Changing China

Giant on the move

“The hidden danger of blogs”

August 13, 2009

China’s government may be fretting about the vast new potential for leaking information opened up by the internet (see this Xinhua piece on planned revisions to the state secrets law).
   
But that hasn’t stopped the many bureaucrats who police the nebulous world of Chinese state secrets from wanting to leap headfirst into the online world.

The web is awash with the sites of state secrets bureaux, I discovered after a colleague dug up a report posted on one of them about the commercially and diplomatically sensitive detention of executives from mining giant Rio Tinto.

It was on www.baomi.org (which roughly translates as www.protectsecrets.org), the succinctly named Website of the apparently not-as secretive-as-its-name-suggests National Administration for the Protection of State Secrets.

Someone in the Administration may be more old-fashioned than the technophiles who set up the site, as it stopped working soon after Reuters report was followed by dozens of other media outlets and spread around the world.

But it is now back online, although with several articles removed. And lower-level protectors of the nation’s many, many secrets (which in the past have been deemed to include newspaper clippings sent abroad in the conventional mail) are also offering up a flurry of non-classified information.

Vast modern cities like Guangzhou, Shanghai and Tianjin are teeming business and political hubs that might well have important government and commercial information to worry about.

But Puyang city? I had to do a quick map check to pin down where it is (northern Henan province, if you were curious). There are secrets to protect everywhere, it seems, and you can read about the efforts in Puyang at www.pybm.cn

Highlights include “Products that can protect secrets”, “The hidden danger of blogs and measures to counteract them” and “Build a firm line of defence to protect military secrets”.

Shanghai has taken a more light-hearted approach, featuring a series of cartoons about the lurking risks to national security.

In one, a cluster of giant eyes peer over the shoulder of an unwitting man, typing at a computer labelled “secret”.

And in another — my favourite by dint of my profession — dozens of people are avidly reading newspapers, under the warning caption, “When the media leaks secrets, the consequences are hard to predict”.

See the dangers for yourself here.

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