China Academy of Social Sciences: 2009 China Internet Public Opinion Analysis Report

The Chinese government’s censorship of the media and the Internet has been widely reported, and CDT has been closely tracking netizens’ resistance to such censorship. Intensified Internet controls have coincided with the Internet’s increasingly critical role in Chinese politics, a fact that the country’s leaders are well aware of. The “2010 Society Blue Paper,” published by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences on December 22, 2009, contained a paper titled, “2009 China Internet Public Opinion Analysis Report,” written by analysts Zhu Huaxin (祝华新), Shan Xuegang (单学刚) and Hu Jiangchun (胡江春) of the Public Opinion Monitoring and Measuring Unit of People’s Net. The following excerpts of the report have been translated by CDT’s E. Shih:

Introduction:

In the “2008 China Internet Public Opinion Analysis Report,” we have created the concept of “new opinion class”, to use it to describe those netizens who are concerned with news and current affairs, and express their opinions online. In recent years, they have leveraged the “All communicate to all” strength of the Internet, and expressed their views on all kinds of problems in China’s social development. They can gather consensus, transform emotions, induce action and influence society within a very short period of time. In 2009, the scale of the “new opinion class” has been expanded further. According to the survey of CNNIC, on June 30, 2009, the population of Chinese netizens reached 338 million. The online population has increased 40 million within 6 months. Internet users are more than 25% of the total population, above the world average.

In the background of the world financial crisis, all kinds of contradictions that accumulated during the economic growth and social transformation of the last thirty years have emerged, and sometimes, in some places, they have accelerated. Netizens’ willingness to express themselves and to participate [in public affairs] is increasing and their voices are dynamic. On a series of sudden events, “New Opinion Class” demonstrated their enormous energy to incite public opinion. The government both intensified Internet control, in order to manage overly-radical expressions, and accelerated their reaction to Internet public opinion. Both the central government and local governments have established monitoring and measuring, feedback and absorbing mechanisms for such online public opinion.

在《2008年中国互联网舆情分析报告》中,我们提出了“新意见阶层”这个概念,用以描述关注新闻时事、在网上表达意见的网民。近年来,他们凭借互联网“所有人对所有人的传播”优势,对中国社会发展中的种种问题畅所欲言,能在极短时间内凝聚共识,发酵情感,诱发行动,影响社会。2009年“新意见阶层”规模进一步扩大。据中国互联网信息中心调查,截至2009年6月30日,中国网民达到3.38亿人,仅半年时间就增长了4000万人;全国互联网普及率25.5%,超过世界平均水平[①]。在世界金融危机的背景下,中国30年经济增长和社会转型所积累的各种矛盾凸显,在有些时候、有些地方呈现激化态势。网民的表达意愿和参与意识持续高涨,踊跃发声建言。在一系列突发事件上, “新意见阶层”进一步显示出巨大的舆论能量。政府一方面强化网络管理,以抑制过于偏激的言论;另一方面对网络舆论的反应提速,从中央到地方初步形成了政府对网络民意的监测、反馈和吸纳机制。

……

(2) Web 2.0 and Web 1.0 Show a Contrast in Opinion
web2.0与web1.0形成意见反差

In traditional media, the content producers have a “We write, you read,” or “We recite, you listen,” or “We perform, you watch” relationship with the audience. Portal sites with news pages also belong to this sort of one-way, web 1.0 communication pattern. They carried the burden of spreading the directives of the government and guiding public discussion. On the contrary, web communities, which specialize in interaction, belong to a pattern of netizen speech and the reversal of communication flows. On a Web 2.0 opinion platform, netizens speak freely about government, and certain official policies are always under scrutiny.

在传统媒体中,编辑部与受众之间是“我写你读”、“我念你听”和“我演你看”的关系。门户网站的新闻页面也属于信息单向传播的web1.0形态,担负着宣传政府方针政策和舆论导向的使命。然而,以互动为特色的网络社区,属于网民自主发声、信息反向传播的web2.0形态。web2.0与web1.0之间经常形成一种隔阂和反差。在web2.0意见平台上,网民议政心直口快,某些政府管理措施经常处于被质疑的状态。

Let’s take the once officially promoted “Green Dam: Flowering Season Navigation Wizard,” a filtering software, as an example. On several websites, the official statement was posted: 92 percent of users feel the need to purchase the filtering software from the government. Over 70 percent of users are satisfied with the software. But according to some portal websites’ investigation, over 80 percent of netizens are strongly opposed to the forced installation of the software.

以曾经被要求推广的“绿坝——花季护航”上网过滤软件为例,各网站刊载有关方面的新闻通稿说:92%的用户认为有必要由政府采购过滤软件,70%以上的用户对软件表示满意。但一些门户网站的在线调查结果显示,超过80%的网友反对强行安装这款软件。

(3) The Combination of Internet and Mobile Technology Gives Web Discourse Teeth
(三)互联网与手机结合,网络舆论更具杀伤力

The merging of wired (Internet) and wireless (cell phone) technology has allowed netizens to spread information even more quickly. This is not limited to words, but includes the live capture and upload of photographs and video. Microblogging, in particular, was very lively in 2009. Following microblogs online does not require the blogger’s permission. Some “opinion leaders” on Twitter have over 10,000 “followers,” and have a great amount of power to guide opinion or incite action. Unlike microblogs in the West, which often discuss the daily lives of bloggers, Chinese microblogs are strongly focused on current events. Through the link of “following,” tribes of microbloggers form, creating a sort of mini-platform for political discussion. Occasional reports from “citizen journalists” can be “reported live” via microblogs. For example, in the Shishou riot, an anonymous netizen logged over 200 tweets live from the streets on Fanfou, a Chinese microblogging website. The microblogs effectively broke through certain communication filters and were ahead of the traditional media—and the announcement of official news. It broadcast live information in large quantities as it occurred, and became the most powerful medium for discourse.

有线载体(互联网)和无线终端(手机)结合,网友通过手机能够进行更为便捷的信息传播,而且不限于文字,还可以将现场拍摄图片、视频上传。特别是微博客,在2009年十分活跃。微博客可通过手机或网页登陆,随时随地发布自己的所见所闻、所思所感,一次不超过140字。在微博客上跟从网民,无须对方同意。一些“意见领袖”的Twitter(总部在美国的微博客提供商)“跟从”者过万,对网民的感召力或煽动性极强。与西方微博客多谈论网民日常起居不同,中国微博客强烈关注时事。网民通过“跟从”链接而形成的微博客群落,相当于一个小型的时政新闻平台和论坛。由普通网民临时客串的“公民报道者”,可在微博客上对突发事件进行“现场直播”。例如,在石首骚乱中,一位匿名网民在饭否网上实时播报街头消息约200条。微博客有效地突破了某些信息屏障,赶在了传统媒体报道和政府新闻发布的前面,第一时间发布大量第一手的信息,成为杀伤力最强的舆论载体。

The second product of the marriage between the Internet and mobile technology is micro-videoblogging. Micro video-blogs are short videos from tens of seconds to at most half an hour long. They are taped at the sudden incidents using phones, digital video recorders and other non-professional equipment and then posted to the Web. For example, at around 9 pm on the night of the Lantern Festival in 2009, there was a fire at the new CCTV building. The first report was by a netizen called “Salted and Hand-Ground Coffee” at 9:04 on the Tianya web community website: “Is the CCTV building on fire on Lantern Festival Night???” The report included a photograph of the scene of the fire, taken on a cell phone. In the summer of 2009, Tudou.com and other sites published a web video titled “The Most Painful Sight on the Streets of Beijing,” showing a girl being severely injured by a bus in front of Xiehe Hospital, and not receiving help for 40 minutes and after 120 emergency telephone calls. One netizen commented: “When disasters happen to other people, it is just a story to us. But when disasters happen to ourselves, it is also a story to other people. We can’t be so cold in this world!” Netizens believe that “No Image, No Truth,” especially when it comes to issues of urban management. For example, confrontations between urban management and merchants, or between demolition teams and developers, are often posted online, easily inciting netizen dissatisfaction and igniting discourse.

互联网和无线终端嫁接的另一个产品是微视频。微视频是短则几十秒、长不过半小时的视频短片,在突发事件现场,用手机、DV等非专业设备拍摄,然后发布到网上。例如2009年元宵节晚9时左右央视新址配楼大火,第一个报道的是网民“加盐的手磨咖啡”,9时4分在天涯社区发帖《CCTV大楼元宵夜起大火了吗????》,上传了手机拍摄的火灾现场照片。2009年夏天土豆网等发布了一段网民视频《北京街头最痛心的一幕》,反映一女子在协和医院门口被公交车蹭倒受伤流血,拨打120急救电话40分钟仍未得到救护。网民跟帖感叹:“当别人发生灾难,在我们眼里就是故事。岂不知,当自己发生灾难,在别人眼里也是故事。这个世界不能太冷漠!”网友信奉“无图无真相”,特别是城市管理中一些老大难问题,如城管与商贩、拆迁户与开发商冲突的现场画面传到网上,更容易激起网民的强烈不满,引爆舆论。

(4) Synergy of the Internet and Traditional Media Magnifies Discourse
(四)互联网和传统媒体相互借力,放大舆论

Web discourse has already deeply influenced traditional media. Newspaper reporters, editors and television hosts have become accustomed to going online to look for news leads; and online “opinion leaders” are happy to write columns for newspapers or to do guest spots on television. Breaking news online gains credibility after deeper investigation by traditional media, and garners more government attention. And social critiques published in traditional media become magnified online, swiftly gathering the momentum of popular opinion, and create an enormous pressure of discourse. The synergy of new and old media has solved many social problems. For example, the resolution of the Shanghai traffic management department’s “fishing law enforcement” was a combined result of advocacy on the Internet and in traditional media. Manager Zhang Jun was “fished” when he picked up a pedestrian who claimed he had a stomachache on his privately owned vehicle. By the 12th, he had laid out his complaint online as “Prince Yi” in the Tianya web community. “1980s generation” author Han Han retold this story and commented on a blog, which garnered more attention. After the National Holiday, traditional media jumped into the story in a big way, digging out more cases of “fishing” in Shanghai. They discovered that a certain precinct had successfully amassed a great amount of wealth using this method of fining “smuggler cars,” and that the courts had a previously arranged agreement with the traffic law enforcement, among other facts. The traditional media reported immediately on the “fished” driver Sun Zhongjie, who chopped off a finger to prove his innocence and indignation. This created the height of the media discourse frenzy.

网络舆论已深刻地影响到传统媒体。报纸记者、编辑和电视主持人习惯于到网上寻找新闻线索;网络“意见领袖”也乐于为报刊撰写专栏,到电视台做嘉宾访谈。网上的爆料,由传统媒体接手深入采访和评论,提升了可信度,更能引起政府重视;而传统媒体对社会不良现象的批评报道,经互联网的放大,迅速凝聚民意,产生强大的舆论压力。新老媒体相互借力,推动了不少社会问题的解决。例如,上海交通管理部门“钓鱼执法”问题的解决,就是互联网和传统媒体联手推进的结果。职业经理人张军9月8日开私家车搭载一个声称胃疼的路人而“被钓”,12日他以“公子羿”为ID在天涯社区发帖控诉。“80后”作家韩寒在博客中转述和评论此事,引起了更大的关注。国庆节过后,传统媒体大举介入,挖掘出上海其他“钓鱼”案例,某区对黑车罚款获取天价收入,法院与交通管理部门串通制定审判指导意见,等等。特别是司机孙中界助人“被钓”后愤而断指自证清白的事件发生后,传统媒体在第一时间追踪报道,把舆论推向高潮。

February 11, 2010 9:23 AM
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