Using the Internet in China just got a little harder. Not content with operating one of the most heavy-handed Internet censorship regimes in the world, Chinese authorities decided that free Wi-Fi makes it just too easy for all sorts of unsavory electronic communication to take place without appropriate supervision by Big Brother… so they ordered public Wi-Fi access providers to install costly software to record the identities and monitor the Web activities of users.
This is why I am not really afraid that the 21st century will belong to China. Sure, they became an economic giant, but this kind of institutional paranoia is ultimately self-limiting. Now if one day, they suddenly kicked out the Chinese Communist Party and replaced its one-party rule with a pluralist society… but then again, if that were to happen and China became the world’s most populous liberal democracy, why would I need to feel worried about their economic prosperity?