Independent Candidates Turn to Microblogs

In The New York Times, Sharon Lafraniere writes about microblogs as an outlet for China’s independent local election candidates as their campaigns battle a stacked deck of government obstruction:

The ability of candidates to whip up online sentiment for political change appears to be what most worries the authorities. One state security officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to comment publicly, said regulatory authorities were considering measures to curb microblogging sites partly because of the potential for political networking.

Indeed, Global Times, an offshoot of the Communist Party’s official newspaper, People’s Daily, warned in a May editorial that “the independent candidates could destroy the current system by soliciting votes on the Internet.” And propaganda authorities have intervened to suppress news of independent candidates, most recently with a Sept. 26 order from Beijing officials not to mention them, according to an editor for a party-run publication, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to comment to foreign reporters.

See also previous CDT coverage of independent candidacies in China and the use of social media as a campaign platform, including two who recently won elections in Foshan and the failed attempt by a celebrity to contest a People’s Congress election in Beijing.