China and the “Crisis” of Public Opinion
Below is a piece published in a recent issue of China Press Journal (中华新闻报), a publication of the All-China Journalist’s Association. The article was reposted at Nanfang Daily, the online China Journalism Review and other places on August 13.
In language typical of the thinking we’ve seen recently, the article talks about public opinion in terms of “crisis.”
This is in fact an apt characterization, as a lack of real transparency and responsiveness at government institutions and the crisis of credibility facing China’s media has meant that public opinion often emerges irrationally and explosively (on the Internet or on the streets). Precisely because, to reiterate the point, state controls limit rational channels.
Is it so surprising that Chinese officials are obsessed with putting out fires? After all, preventing them would require a more serious project of political reform, beginning with an expansion of media freedoms.