Thursday, June 11, 2009 | 5:30 PM EDT - 5:30 PM EDT

, New York, NY

Dr. Ashley Esarey, An Wang Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University, and Dr. Yang Guobin, associate professor in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures at Barnard College, Columbia University, spoke about the internet and Chinese society and the Green Dam software controversy on June 11, 2009 in New York. Each discussed ongoing changes in internet restrictions and the predicted ramifications of increased government control. Their commentary was followed by a panel discussion moderated by National Committee President Stephen Orlins and audience Q & A. An audio recording of their remarks is available on the right of this page.

Dr. Yang explained the current debate about Green Dam software installation, describing the aims of the Chinese government in protecting minors from inappropriate internet content, reactions among Chinese internet users, and the triangular relationship among internet users, internet businesses, and the government.

Dr. Esarey emphasized the large and increasing number of internet users in China and the potential effects of widespread internet usage on institutional reform, information accessibility, and economic development. He also elaborated on some crucial differences between blog content and the content of other media sources and the possible impact increased blogging could have on Chinese commercial media in the future.

The panel discussion focused on the capabilities of the new software, timeline of the installation process already begun in China, internet user and Chinese media reaction to the new restrictions, inconsistent levels of censorship across websites, and the possible role of Chinese software developers in initiating new government-mandated software regulations.

Dr. Esarey is working on a book called The Challenge of Truth: Media and Power in Contemporary China. He is an An Wang Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard and was previously a Luce Fellow of Asian Studies and served as an assistant professor of comparative politics at Middlebury College.

Dr. Yang’s most recent book is The Power of the Internet in China: Citizen Activism Online (Columbia University Press, June 2009). In addition to serving as an associate professor in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures at Barnard College, Columbia University, he is also a faculty member of Columbia’s Weatherhead East Asian Institute and an affiliated faculty member of the Department of Sociology at Columbia.