Joseph Muscat holds up as a (good) example China’s use of the internet against “foreign manipulation”

Published: January 18, 2013 at 11:55am

In March five years ago, after Labour lost the general election, The Times carried an article by Joseph Muscat, up until then Labour leader Sant’s righthand man, in which he revealed where he thought the Labour Party went wrong with its use of the internet as a campaign tool.

He held China up, in its international war of ‘perception’ about its behaviour in Tibet, as an example of what can be done with the magic powers of the internet, if you get everyone together and control them.

The Chinese campaign on Tibet has taken an interesting development. The Chinese are now adopting a media campaign to neutralise another media campaign. In blogs, chat-rooms, bulletin boards and by SMS, Chinese citizens are assaulting the international press, exposing mistakes and depicting what they perceive as foreign manipulation. One hopes that the matter will not lie to rest once the Olympic Games are over.

– Joseph Muscat, The Times (last Monday, 31 March)

The mystery, to me, is how so many people can’t see past the faux-liberal wrapping-paper to the autocratic gift inside. Muscat uses the word ‘progressive’ in the same way the extreme left does, but this appears to be apparent only to those of us who grew up in a Cold War world where the extreme left was a real and tangible presence, and where the word ‘progressive’ was automatically equated with Communism and a disregard for basic human rights.

I honestly don’t know how people can expect otherwise. This is a man brought up to admire Mintoff, for heaven’s sake, who still admires him. Nobody who admires Mintoff can possibly have a liberal forma mentis or understand that human beings are not cheap and disposable guinea pigs in a controlled laboratory.

9 Comments Comment

  1. Josette Jones says:

    Daphne, please swallow your coffee before you click:

  2. Paul Borg says:

    “He is like a stopped clock. It’s bound to tell the right time eventually but is completely useless unless there is someone else around who actually knows the time of day” – Margaret Thatcher

  3. Tumas-Muscat says:

    While, quite fortunately, I was born after the Cold War and Labour’s Golden Years, I do appreciate just what Muscat actually means and the disturbing echoes of the past. This is thanks to my education and interest in history, which I’m sure I wouldn’t have been allowed to have under Mintoff at all.

    But with the state of the Maltese people’s general interest in Maltese and foreign history being what it is, I’m not really surprised.

    Most just don’t care enough to see what events and movements led to their current life to appreciate what to avoid in future. Quite sad, but unfortunately true.

    “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” has never been more true locally.

    • Jo says:

      For this, the education system is partly to blame. Our students learn about our remote history but little or nothing is taught about our very recent past.

      Maybe because it might be taken as talking about politics?

      So we are doing a disservice to our students as we are presenting them with a stunted version of our recent past.

      How can they relate to this past and learn to be wise when weighing the actions and words of the political class, especially?

      Is European history a part of the school curriculum?

      Again if they’ve never come across the the good and the bad in other countries, they are learning history in a vacuum.

      And when those who fear their past and would like to forget and make us forget, and are trying and succeeding- to some extent, then this even worse.

      Again, when those of us who lived through those terrible years won’t be here, there will be nobody to tell them. They will believe that the Golden Years were really so.

  4. Wilson says:

    Can anyone really gauge what is the damage in Malta’s foreign policy by what (supposedly) Malta’s future prime minister is saying?

    If the there was another wiki leaks, do you think there would be some large bells ringing?

    Does Muscat know the implications of the Tibet saga on the world platform, both at political and street level is?? But then again he will have to write like this quite a bit if China is giving him a power station for free!

    This guy is turning out to be far more dangerous than the PN could ever predict!! Some little red lights must be going off somewhere in the world.

    • Tumas-Muscat says:

      That’s what embassies in our country are for (in part): gathering information and possible policy outcomes in the host state.

      If they’re doing their work right, I’m sure statesmen from the USA and Europe (amongst others) already know about Malta’s possible re-alignment to the rogue states of the world should Labour come to power.

      What this scenario would mean for our relations with the rest of the civilised world is anyone’s guess.

  5. bystander says:

    I hope Joey is a communist.

    Then we can all have a dip in his swimming pool.

  6. Jozef says:

    This blog could be shut down;

    ‘…..On December 28, 2012, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s legislative body, passed the “Decision to Strengthen the Protection of Online Information.” The Decision contains troubling provisions that require internet access and telecommunications providers to collect personal information about users when they sign up for internet access, landline, or mobile phone service. Paragraph 6 of the Decision also applies to service providers that allow users to publish online, who must be able to connect pseudonyms to real identities when citizens post information. In the days following the decision, several well-known online activists found that their weibo micro-blogging accounts had been shut down.

    “These new mandates send a chilling message to China’s netizens,” said Cynthia Wong, senior researcher on the internet and human rights at Human Rights Watch. “The government’s decision is an effort to silence critics and curb anonymity online by further conscripting internet companies to monitor and censor users.”

    “Real name registration” requirements allow authorities to more easily identify online commentators or tie mobile use to specific individuals, limiting anonymous expression, “whistleblowers” who spotlight official corruption, and the right to privacy. Even without energetic enforcement, the law will suppress critical speech as users may fear that anything they post critical of the government could lead to reprisals.

    Although the right to freedom of expression is guaranteed in article 35 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, the Chinese government continues to regularly impose sharp curbs, including through broad internet censorship, surveillance practices, and prosecution of citizens and journalists for their online activity. For example, in February 2012, writer Zhu Yufu was sentenced to seven years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power” because he posted a poem online calling for political reform in the wake of the Arab Spring…’

    The website is full.

  7. Francis Saliba M.D. says:

    The Labour Party has a strong and despicable record of antidemocratic suppression of any opinion not congenial to it by burning down printing presses and depriving them of their own radio and TV broadcasting stations.

Leave a Comment