China Bans “Civil Society”

China Media Project analyzes Chinese media content in light of the recent ban on the term “civil society”:

It is true that banning a term such as “civil society” outright is a difficult proposition, and there are still plenty of examples to show that it is sticking around in China’s print media — even in those trouble-making Guangdong newspapers cited in a number of reports on the directive.

A search of the WiseNews database, which includes hundreds of mainland Chinese newspapers, returned 271 results for articles including the term “civil society” over the past month (since December 1, 2010). Since January 1, the term has been used in 50 articles in the mainstream print media. Of these 50 articles making reference to the term, 18 were from media in Guangdong province.

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As traditional media have pushed gingerly against the limits of this latest ban, the term “civil society” and the ban itself have been shared through domestic microblog services, demonstration again of the potential power of these new media.

On January 3, celebrity blogger Wu Yue San Ren (五岳散人) wrote through his microblog at QQ:

Around the time I’d been in this field of journalism for just a couple of years, you couldn’t raise the concept of the ‘taxpayer,’ and now we can’t say ‘civil society’ anymore. If we say ‘the ordinary people’ that seems like a term we shouldn’t be using in a modern society. And if we say ‘the masses’ instead, then it always has the words ‘who don’t know the truth’ tacked on to it [by government officials].

January 11, 2011 11:10 PM
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