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Isaac Mao at Expression Under Repression

Isaac Mao rounded out the trio of citizen journalists speaking at the first panel of Expression Under Repression. One of the first Chinese bloggers online, Isaac spoke with a great deal more caution than Hoder or Taurai. He’s received warnings from people in China that his family might be in danger as a result of his decision to speak in public about the Internet in China. Isaac makes it clear that he takes these threats seriously and is choosing his words with caution.

Isaac was one of the major organizers of the recent Shanghai blogger’s conference. It’s difficult to hold meetings of over 200 people in China without attracting government permits. Isaac and friends managed to hold the conference by having it over a weekend in the hopes that the authorities wouldn’t notice.

Chinese media – and bloggers – tend to police themselves, Isaac tells us. He believes that “free thinking is more important than free speech right now”, that people in China need to learn how to think beyond the self-imposed constraints they’re bound by.

A BBC journalist interviewed Chinese bloggers at the Shanghai conference – none were willing to speak on camera. Isaac points to this as another example of self-censorship.

In the hopes of improving communication between the English and Chinese blogospheres, Isaac is urging his compatriots to start translating content from sites like Global Voices – to avoid a “one way world” in which all the content in China comes from Chinese media and where US media characterizes China, and Chinese people don’t speak back.

He also revealed that he’s planning on moving his blog, in the near future, to an overseas host. Isaacmao.com has been blocked for over three months in China – it forwards automatically to notisaacmao.com in the meantime.