Sunday, September 29, 2013
Chinese Government's Attitude toward Social Media
Well, this post may be a response to various news about Chinese social media recently...
A few days ago there is incorrect news saying that Chinese government will open up Shanghai for Facebook and Twitter. Two weeks ago a Chinese law came up saying that people whose rumor was retweeted more than 500 times on Weibo (Chinese Twitter) will be arrested. Some weeks ago lots of famous accounts on Weibo were shut down. Some months ago, there are suggestions from central government to local governments to communicate with citizens. Chinese people can always read news about government’s new actions on social media, sometimes positive, and sometimes negative. It is interesting to focus on Chinese government’s attitude towards social media, for it is always changing.
Although Chinese government is always criticized on social media problem, in my opinion, it is getting rapid improvement. Chinese government is trying actively to join in people’s discussion on Weibo. Nowadays, there are thousands of government accounts on Weibo, and the most popular account has more than six million followers. Number of interactions between people and government agencies is growing rapidly in recent years.
As for Chinese government’s self-contradictory attitudes towards social media, I think it is understandable. In fact, the development of social media in China is not only about social media, but more importantly, it is about democracy. After thousands of years of autocracy, Chinese people today are so eager to get democracy that some of them get out of control and just cannot think rationally on any information about the government. Rumors spread faster than any time in the history, and discontent in people can be ignited easily. This actually is a progress for Chinese society for it shows people’s realization of democracy, however, it can also cause chaos easily. For example, last year, some speeches against Japan spread on Weibo, and then some cities broke out demonstrations and soon become violence. After this incident, Chinese government strengthened the restriction of Weibo. Later, it released the restriction for more voice from citizens, and another incident happened. Chinese government does try to be more transparent and democratic, but in such a large country with more than 1.3 billion people, there is also a strong demand of stability. So such “release – chaos - restriction” circles lead to a changing attitude of Chinese government towards social media.
That is my understanding of Chinese government's attitude toward social media, so I am not sure whether my analysis is right or not. But one thing is sure: China is now standing at a turning point toward democracy. So let's look forward to its change.