When you see the names Jingjing and Chacha, you'd probably automatically assume that those are character names for a children's show on Chinese TV. You may sit up and take notice then when you realize that it's actually a play on words for the Chinese word of Police: Jingcha. And those two cute names have an equally cute caricature design showing a tiny Chinese male and female dressed like police officers. Only, they aren't promoting real police but rather an unseen force to help regulate the internet. Yes, all that as a new cute marketing effort by the historically tough Communist regime in China to keep the younger generation from doing anything they shouldn't when they go on the internet.
That marketing campaign was directly implemented by the Internet Surveillance Division located in Shenzen, China within the last couple of years–perhaps as a way to keep any approaching influence from the Beijing Olympics in making the young Chinese generation think they can start making political statements on message boards or even looking up things that most Chinese youth probably don't know exist in cyberspace.
Quite a concept of keeping the children there from dialing up porn or putting their cyber foot in their mouths posting fly-by-night comments on MySpace or on highly-visible message boards, isn't it? It almost sounds attractive when you see how much of a mess America's internet has become and how kids get exposed to websites either on purpose or by accident. Not that many Americans want to have a regulated internet here, even though seeing mascots that would incite kids to mind their P's and Q's on the net just might work in a generation not already tainted by pop culture.
For China, they've imposed a new concept for the children of their country that could also work for the innocently new generation of America: Building up a personal desire to impose self regulation.
That concept is quite different from a few years ago when the Internet Surveillance Division was just one division set up by the People's Republic of China where harsher crackdowns were imposed for those saying or looking up forbidden internet content. Now that things are slightly different from a few short years ago, the PRC is employing what's called, in a bigger picture, a chilling effect where people don't partake in certain activities due to thinking Big Brother is watching their every move and potentially putting the offender in legal hot water if they don't comply.
Yes, we know Orwell's "1984" is playing out all over China, Japan and other countries well outside of Asia with shades of it in America. It's hard to deny, though, that self regulation is the only real hope for those who want a regulation of the internet here in America.
But lest we use China as the ultimate model of how to regulate the internet, most people in America have no idea how many of those Chinese internet police (who probably look nothing like Jingjing or Chacha) are monitoring every single move of internet users…
The 30,000 who keep the internet peace…
When you realize that some Chinese adults at one time almost let pop culture lead the way with providing sex and controversial politics on the net, you can see why the Chinese internet police have grown to a staggering 30,000 force. Many of them are assigned to internet chat boards and having the ability to intercept private IM chats in the event someone is planning a covert political revolution similar to what happened in Tiananmen Square. They've also constructed the other Great Wall of China: The Great Firewall, or otherwise known as the Great Shield that was the first protective system for the internet back in 1998 and since refined to be the ultimate Big Bother for many.
It's those 30,000 internet police who had to learn how to tone down their protectiveness when the Summer Olympics arrived to Beijing this year. The complaints from the International Olympic Committee was that blocking certain types of content on the net would inhibit many of the international reporters covering the games who depend on the internet to get information. As of this writing (three days into the games), that's apparently been settled and certain sites that were blocked have been lifted just for the games.
With some Chinese adults having sophisticated minds and not being afraid to jump at the chance of seeing or exploiting something on the internet, it has to make you wonder if a lot of the more daring Chinese citizens won't take advantage of the timeframe of the Olympics to look at sites they ordinarily wouldn't be able to see. Try as they might, the internet police are said to still be on heavy duty, especially because the country has some Chinese teens out there who try every single day to penetrate the Great Firewall as hackers do here in America. In fact, when you look at those maps on your firewall programs when someone attempts to infiltrate one of your computer ports, the location sometimes says China.
Does that mean that the Jingjing and Chacha characters won't help shape a new Chinese generation in how they handle themselves on the internet? Kinder and gentler is better than barbaric crackdowns, though there isn't any doubt that China can't entirely prevent the insidiousness of the evils that lurk on the internet and how it can be accessed. Nevertheless, the PRC are onto something with the self regulation and one that could work potentially well with certain realistic guidelines.
Then again, maybe it's too late for America to deal with self-regulation on the internet. For China, the refreshing idea that Jingjing and Chacha are forwarding the rare concept of children keeping their innocence gives the Chinese government some points during a time when their horrid human rights record is still one of their biggest blights in their history.
To see the copyrighted images of both Jingjing and Chacha, click on the links below from Wikimedia Commons: