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Latest update : 2009-11-17

Obama's visit to China commented online

The Web lies at the heart of Barack Obama’s China visit. Also in this edition of webnews, the 20 years of the Velvet Revolution online. And the launch of the first domain name in Arabic.

Barack Obama in China

Barack Obama appealed for uncensored internet in Shanghai, China, in the framework of his Asian tour, before flying to Beijing to meet with Chinese leaders. A visit in which the web has its role to play.

On Monday Obama met with a selection of handpicked students. And as early as Friday, official sites were urging net users to ask questions to the US President. Some were concerned to know whether Obama would meet with the Dalai Lama, asking him to respect China’s position. A meeting broadcast on the White House site.

Last week, the US Embassy received a panel of Chinese bloggers to discuss freedom of expression in particular. One suggested that Obama go to an internet café to fully appreciate the difficulties encountered by Chinese people in accessing news.

During the entire trip, Obama’s advisors will send video blogs to recount the different stages. Here Ben Rhodes, the advisor in charge of national security, addresses net users from the President’s plane, Air Force One.
 

This international relations expert analyses the stakes of the visit and relations between the two nations. He feels it is the climate that the two giants must now see eye to eye on.

20th anninversay of the Velvet Revolution

Today, November 17, the Czech Republic celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. An event which hastened the bloodless demise of the communist regime in the former Czechoslovakia. Net users are also commemorating the anniversary.


On share sites, several videos and other photo montages pay tribute to the many protesters who dared to defy the authorities twenty years ago.


Others such as this photographer, who was present in Prague on November 17, 1989, posted shots taken on the occasion of the event’s large-scale gatherings. Images which allow us to slip inside the skin of those who decided to defy communism.
 

This Czech net user posted extracts of his diary, written during the Velvet Revolution, when he was only sixteen years old and translated into English. In particular, he recounts the various clashes with the police.
 

But twenty years after this famous Revolution, some Czech citizens seem to look back on the communist era with nostalgia. This seventy seven year old grandmother, who testifies online, explains that in her opinion the advent of democracy did not necessarily bring about positive changes.
 

And in this audio extract, a Czech journalist declares that under the communist regime, the system was even better from a social point of view as there was an abundance of work and the State assisted citizens.
 


Domain name in Arabic

 
Egypt has just launched the first domain name in Arabic at a conference in Sharm el-Sheikh. Baptised .misr, which means Egypt in Arabic, it is the first extension in non Latin characters. An important step towards the internationalisation of the Internet, with half of the world’s net users speaking languages which are not based on Roman characters.

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