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Sunday, November 12, 2006 

Are the authorities putting a brake on innovation and creativity?

What happened in the days and hours before the recent Chinese Blogger Conference is now public:

"The school suddenly asked for a full list of the meeting attendees. The boss of SINEW Group also called him asking about the conference, our website, the content of the speeches, and the real name of the organizers and VIPs. He also ordered JIANJIAN to keep his cell phone on 24 hours, and to wait for the next order. In the afternoon of the day before the meeting, we got a notice from a Party representative, who asked us to hand out all information about the guest speakers and the organizers: names, phone numbers, employers, positions, backgrounds, etc. When I asked for those information on Skype, everyone was at a loss. But they were all very cooperative."

And that wasn't it.

The next day after the incident:

"the school had an urgent notice: power will be cut on Oct. 28 and 29 in order to maintain the electrical system. We would certainly not be able to have our meeting.

I immediately called a friend who works at the city Power Bureau to consult with her. She said that these kind of actions usually will give notice at least two weeks ahead of time. It is impossible that the customers only have this short notice. Plus, universities always have backup systems.

I start to get the picture now. I will not give up. Start from scratch again!"

My poor friends.

But I am so glad that in the end everything worked out fine.

However, all the road blocks experienced by the conference organizers reminded me of this point that Rebecca Mackinnon raised:
"Fang Xingdong, head of the blog-hosting service Bokee.com, declared in a presentation that he believes China will drive global innovation in the 21st century. It was clear that the people in the room would love nothing more than to play a part in making that dream a reality. Will the authorities allow them to play this role?"

I really wonder.

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