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How A “Grass Mud Horse” Leapt Over China’s Great Internet Firewall

China’s imaginary animal that’s actually both a filthy play on words, and a symbol of internet freedom

image via (cc) flickr user andy-li

The barrier surrounding China’s state-run internet services is the stuff of legend: A multi-layered “great firewall” designed to exert near-total control over what goes in, and out, of that country’s computer networks. While China credits its restrictions on internet giants like Google and Twitter as having created the necessary vacuum in which that country’s own crop of tech juggernauts—web portals like Alibaba, and Baidu—could grow into the market successes they are today, the cumulative effect of China’s “great firewall” is that digital information is policed on a scale unlike anywhere else on Earth.

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Chinese Language Programs Revive "Red Scare" Hysteria

Will learning from a native speaking Chinese teacher turn American students into subversive commies? Probably not. (But it might get them a job.)


Chinese President Hu Jintao's making his first state visit to the Obama White House at a time when the American economy—and American schools—are feeling left behind by the growing economic superpower. Now a story out of Columbus, Ohio, about the Gahanna-Jefferson School District's Chinese language and culture program spotlights the revival of "Red Scare" fears—all because China's helping pay part of the program's cost.

At a time when many American school districts are busy cutting foreign language offerings, the Chinese government is contributing $30,000 to Gahanna-Jefferson's four-year-old program. It's a fraction of the cost—the U.S. government is ponying up the rest of the $1 million needed to run the initiative, which teaches Mandarin and Chinese culture to 350 students.

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