Censorship definitely not just an Asian trait
While it may seem odd to compare the movie The Village, to information censorship in Asia right now, just think about it.
In the movie, you are lead to believe people live in a town reminiscent of colonial America. Its inhabitants are haunted by horrific beasts that live in the forest surrounding the village and scare anybody from going beyond the perimeter of the village. However in the end you find out the people live in the present, and the beasts were just a ploy to keep villagers from knowing the truth about the outside world.
You could compare this type of behavior to countries that suppress information from their citizens. The most obvious example is North Korea. Few people have been able to escape and even fewer have gone inside.
From birth, North Koreans are taught to worship their "dear leader", Kim Jong Il. The documentary National Geographic: Inside North Korea, gives you a sense of how repressive the country is.
No information from outside the state is allowed inside without being controlled by the state. Their whole lives are choreographed like some type of theatrical performance.
Other countries, like China for example, seem to use every possible resource to keep their citizens under surveillance.
Programs such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are replaced by the Chinese equivalents, all approved by the government. Not to say that Facebook, YouTube or Twitter don't deserve their fair of criticism, but that's a whole separate argument.
This is is simply an observation of the Chinese government and how determined they are to keep certain information out of their country. When you search the word "freedom" in China on Google, it comes up with no results.
It seems odd to ban a simple, seemingly inoffensive word from one of the largest countries on the planet, but why? Maybe they're afraid that one word will start a movement where Chinese citizens vie for more social freedoms.
Musi Zhang is from China and currently lives in the Los Angeles area. Zhang believes the government isn't afraid that people will find out what freedom means, because citizens already know the definition, but not necessarily to the fullest extent. "They're just afraid the results that come with freedom," said Zhang. He mentioned the government is worried certain information might affect the stability of society
America and other countries are by no means perfect. It might seem ridiculous to certain Americans the amount of money and effort the Chinese government puts into surveillance, except in a way we are no different. For years, the United States Government has done thousands of wiretaps and viewed the email accounts of many. Their explanation is obviously national security, and the prevention of incidents like 9/11.
Ultimately, the government still has near infinite access to what is going on in our lives. Who really knows if our cell phones can be used to track our location or if the cameras on our laptops stream video 24 hours a day.
While we might not have stories of our friends disappearing into the night, we all know the government is out there watching. In North Korea and China people do disappear and it often relates to when they speak out against the institution.
Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese author and Nobel Prize winner, was arrested in 2009 for writing Charter 08, a document cited as subversion to the Chinese government.
Zhang explained that Chinese citizens are used to censorship and have learned to accept it. "If you don't want do get in trouble, don't talk about politics. That's it," said Zhang. "You never know who's going to tell on you."
The government sounds like the bully on the playground, who will beat up anybody who finds out they are talking badly about them. People shouldn't live in fear of their governments.
In comparison, Zhang believes that China's all-seeing eye benefits the country in extreme cases of emergency. They are better fit to put down violence and unrest.
We can sit here and argue that people are forced to live in false realities, yet America is not so different, only the ideas of free speech and freedom of the press remain vigilantes in the night. In the end, governments are supposed to provide for the people and open doors, not close them. If countries can't do that, despite whether or not they are doing well economically, what are they there for?