Has China’s Young Jedi Joined the Dark Side?
Han Han, the most famous blogger in China, recently sealed a deal with massive Chinese Internet company Tencent and founded an e-journal, One. This is his third attempt at creating a journal.
Compared with his previous work, Party, which was quickly shuttered, the content on One appears to be “significantly less threatening to censors”, due to a possible compromise with Tencent. From Tea Leaf Nation:
“One” resembles a Han Han-curated “Readers’ Digest,” where Han and his team select and share their favorite news and videos. By contrast, “Party” was a collection of essays—witty and sharp-tongued—from liberal celebrities which included the famous artist-dissident Ai Weiwei.
Han Han is never far from controversy. The “Trilogy”, his previous blog entries on revolution, democracy and liberty, stirred up hot debate online and drew him “vitriolic criticism” from some of his previous literary allies. However, he seems to be one of the few writers who dare to “rant” from the heart. From Tea Leaf Nation:
Han Han has the guts to write exactly what he thinks. Many criticize him for an abundance of swear words and “obscene” analogies in his writing, yet these words seem to come straight from the hearts of those who can’t “rant” as prolifically and beautifully as Han can.
Han’s outspokenness surely constitutes a large part of his fame. As Han Han himself puts it, he rants about topics that normal people don’t dare rant about, or can’t rant about with commensurate eloquence.
Whether the online journal will “make it harder for the censors to put the proverbial genie back in the bottle” is still yet to be seen. At the moment, this new approach is still “limited”.
“One” makes only recommendations to its readers, and there is no commentary from Han Han or his team whatsoever. This limited approach seems more prone to help Tencent develop a new celebrity platform, and less helpful to Han Han as a public intellectual.