Dr. John Rutledge offers a perspective on Chinese censorship, greatly informed by his frequent travels there. An excerpt:
I use the word “attempt” because, as any parent can tell you, controlling the communication of young people is impossible. That’s just as true in China as in the US. The kids there have cell phones too. And like our kids they don’t talk with each other any more; they just send IM’s (Instant Messages).
They are also good at circumventing restrictions by inventing new words to replace the keywords the censors dislike.
Young people I have spoken with in China (they actually “talk” with old people like me who don’t know how to IM) tell me they have easy access to 95% of the information on the Internet, although they sometimes resort to Internet Cafe’s to do so.
Thus I persist in optimism.