Research on information in China does not exactly flood the Western media, but I did accidentally run across one article in today's raid through Association of Internet Researchers, AOIR's archives. Lokman Tsui wrote "Panoptic Control: Regulation of the Internet in China by Surveillance" for AOIR 3.0 in Maastricht 2002. To read the article you need to be a member of AOIR, but here's the abstract:
The internet is known for its open characteristics that make it hard to control. Western media argue that the internet poses considerable problems for the Chinese government that attempts to uphold an information monopoly. This paper attempts to counter this argument and discusses to what degree the Chinese government can control the internet in China and, more than that, to what degree the internet can be used as a means for control. We will analyze how the Chinese government establishes internet control from a legal, technical, economical and social perspective. The concept of the Panopticon prison, invented by Jeremy Bentham and mediated by Michel Foucault, will be used as a metaphor to illustrate that the Chinese government has all the tools at its disposal to further enforce control of the internet, by way of the internet.
The message of the article is dark, almost dystopic, and makes an even stronger impact as it is delivered through well-informed, cool, and clear scholarly analysis.
China is still controlled, different and struggling for freedom of speach. Our concern with not being allowed to distribute all the music we like is a luxury problem in this context.