March 22, 2006


China has ordered the armed forces to get permission from local government, and abide by environmental rules, when building new facilities, and holding training exercises. This is a major change, for in the past, the armed forces could do whatever it wanted, with no interference from local government authorities. The only one who had any control over these matters was the national government, and in most cases, the national leadership didn’t care what the military did as long as it didn’t cause a stink they could smell. The Internet and cell phones have changed all that. Now, whenever the military offends a lot of civilians, the word gets around (nationwide) quickly (within hours.) These embarrassing situations (especially when the military seizes land it needs, or causes a mess with pollution, or other bad behavior by the troops) tend to get into Chinese or foreign media, and that does not make the big shots in Beijing happy at all.

Heh. This is an example of how communications technology can make a difference even in a place like China that tries to censor the Internet.

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