Zhang Wen: Blogs, Democracy and China’s Future

ESWN translates a blog post by Zhang Wen which recounts his interview by a French documentary filmmaker who is making a film about Chinese bloggers:

Q: There is an assertion now that the Internet, including the blogs, is a place for people to let steam off. To a certain extent, this is helping the Communist Party.

A: This is a very peculiar perspective. The logic is peculiar. I think that in any country, even western ones, the more channels for people to let steam off, the more stable the governing body becomes. The assumption is that the government pays attention to public opinion and actively rectifies its mistakes based upon the feedback from the public.
Therefore, it is very normal for blogs to be an outlet for citizens to vent their feelings. As to whether this is helping the Communists, it depends on whether the Communists perceive the social crises based upon the expressed discontent and hence take remedial steps. If so, it will obviously help their rule.

Q: Do you think that the Internet (including the blogs) will help to promote democracy in China?

A: My answer is, Definitely. I have said many times before that I thank God for bringing the Internet to China. The Internet allows information to flow more freely. It has increased the cost of controlling information flow, even making it impossible. There may be mixed messages on the Internet, including large amounts of false information. But at the very least, it has broken the monopoly of communication channels. People can listen to different voices. There is no longer an absolute authority. Every person can make his own judgment based upon the various information in his hands. What I called the age of solo singing has arrived. Individuals, not groups; diverse, not monolithic. This is the pre-condition as well as essential characteristic of a democratic society.

July 21, 2010 7:05 PM
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