Chinese Language Blog

Chinese Social Media, pt. 1 Posted by on Oct 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

It’s hard to imagine life before the internet. In those dark ages, fundamentally important questions went unanswered (like what is Lebron James thinking?). If you wanted to see a movie or listen to a new album, you’d actually have to physically go to the store or theater and buy it. ┬áMail was used for more than just Netflix and Amazon packages. Communication took forever. Barbaric, wasn’t it?

For all the internet has done to alter the human landscape, nowhere has the change been so profound as in the News game. It gave everyone with a web connection first hand experience in video, reporting and blogging that made the world smaller and more personable. Instead of waiting for a new News cycle or next day’s paper, the internet brought instant independent thought from around the globe. Just look at these numbers:

After centuries of hearing only one side of the story, information finally became a public good. State-run media is highly ineffectual (if you are following this blog from China, you know what I mean ;)), and state-run propaganda, as shown from the Jasmin Revolution networks, can’t compete with 1 million twitter followers, reporters and photographers. I mean, what are you going to do, shut down the entire communications infrastructure of a country because they called you bad names?

In North America and Europe, newspapers and syndicated publications are dying. Those that manage to stay afloat do so by employing a variety of social media tactics that are open to everyone with a few hours to kill. The Old Guard is crumbling. Change is upon us. The bloggers shall inherit the (google) earth.

So it comes at great surprise (and disappointment) that the CCP is considering revamping and improving their already stringent social media censorship rules, for fear of social unrest exciting China’s massive “netizen” community (largest in the world, folks). Times are rough in China, and with few avenues for social discourse, the internet is really the only place where Chinese citizens can vent. Why take that away from them?

I’m a little baffled because, the interwebs appears to be holding China together, not threatening to tearing it apart. What would young males do without World of Warcraft or COD? How would people occupy their time when smog and pollution clouds the outdoors?

If anything, the Chinese government should be allowing greater access to it, presenting it as a gift from a precariously poised party, months away from a substantial power transition (so long Hu Jintao). When heads are already rolling, you don’t want a internet blackout to force people to the streets now, do you?

I realize that with greater internet freedom, critics and critiques of the government will swell in number and people will grow angry. But lets face it, part of running a country is having nearly half (or with GW Bush, 2/3rds) of the country pissed off at you. That’s democracy in the truest sense of the world. 1.4 billion people yelling “rabble, rabble”. Deal with it, CCP. It happens in the US all the time, but you don’t see mass revolution (#OccupyWallStreet does not count!).

Internet freedom is an inevitability, and censorship only occurs in nations with a large group of unhappy residents (what up, Middle East?). So why prolong the inevitable, China? Give the internet to the people. Say it’s a gift from the CCP. You cannot have your entire nationalist relationship between government and the people to be solely about GDP growth and consumerism. At some point, the economy will slow down (experts believe very, very soon), but even more importantly, people will want more. China’s middle class will demand it soon enough.

The next post will cover Chinese social media in China including Weibo, China’s “netizen” community, censorship and ways around the “Great Firewall of China”. Thanks for following the blog. Stay tuned cause we’re diving into the wide world of the Social Media in the mainland.

…So Follow Steve on twitter already: @seeitbelieveit

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About the Author: Stephen

Writer and blogger for all things China related. Follow me on twitter: @seeitbelieveit -- My Background: Fluent Mandarin speaker with 3+ years working, living, studying and teaching throughout the mainland. Student of Kung Fu and avid photographer and documentarian.


  1. John S.:

    I’d be interested in how Chinese people share photos online or blog together, especially between mainland and their friends and family all over the world.

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