Qatar made unsuccessful bids for both the 2016 and 2020 Games, and will no doubt make another one in the years to come. If it is serious about respecting the tradition of the event, let alone becoming a global centre for genuine cultural inquiry, it needs to get over its inhibitions.

Nearly 40 minutes have been chopped from the Hollywood film "Cloud Atlas" for Chinese audiences, deleting both gay and straight love scenes to satisfy local censors despite a movie-going public that increasingly chafes at censorship.

A little more than a week after journalists at Southern Weekly, one of China’s most daring newspapers, clashed with propaganda authorities in southern China’s Guangdong province over alleged censorship of a New Year’s editorial, China watchers are still trying to suss out what the conflict — which inspired anti-censorship protests both online and in the streets — means for the future of media in China.

Knock-offs aside, a bigger reason for China’s lack of a “Gangnam style” hit is the pervasive censorship apparatus that keep tight control on print, radio, TV and live music performances. Censorship is even tighter than usual this month, ahead of China’s leadership transition in early November. As Chinese pundits study for lessons about soft power, that’s one theme that they dare not write about.

Chinese state television hailed Mo Yan as "the first Chinese writer to win the Nobel Prize in literature" following the announcement Thursday of the 2012 award... As part of its quest for soft power, Beijing has been obsessed for years about winning Nobel prizes, which in its view too often go to dissidents and emigres.

Google‘s head of operations in Brazil, Fabio Jose Silva Coelho, was arrested yesterday for disobeying authorities to take down YouTube videos that criticized a local politician. He was released today after signing a document saying that he promised to show up in court on a date that has yet to be determined.

"Every country tries to promote its views using 'soft power' and it's not surprising that China would try to do it as its power increases," he said. "Promoting 'soft power,' even with Hollywood's cooperation, is difficult if a country's policies are too far out of step with prevailing global norms.

The famous Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei once wrote in a blog, "To express yourself needs a reason, but expressing yourself is a reason." In the highly censored world of Chinese media, this sums up the growing consensus within that country -- and around the world -- that the freedom of expression and dissent is important as an ends, and not just a means.