In China, Delhi Rape Spurs Debate, Then Censorship

The Hindu’s Ananth Krishnan examines Chinese reactions to a storm in India over the fatal gang-rape of a woman on a New Delhi bus.

The incident and the protests in New Delhi in recent days have received wide attention in China. While the brutal attack was initially highlighted by Communist Party-run outlets as indicative of the failures of India’s democratic system to ensure stability, the following protests in New Delhi triggered calls from pro-reform bloggers for the Chinese government to learn from India and to allow the public to express its voice.

The rape case was one of the most discussed topics in Chinese microblogs over the past week, prompting thousands of posts and comments. By Sunday, however, the authorities appeared to move to limit the debate: on Monday, a search for the topic triggered a message on Sina Weibo – a popular Twitter-equivalent used by more than 300 million people – saying the results could not be displayed according to regulations. The message is usually seen as an indicator of a topic being censored by the authorities.

[…] That Communist Party media outlets and academics often point to India’s “disorderliness” as an outcome of the democratic system and to justify one-party rule is a sore point among many liberal Chinese who are pushing for democratic reforms.

Western responses have also come under fire: Emer O’Toole wrote at The Guardian that media commentary focusing on cultural rather than political issues has frequently displayed “uncomfortably neocolonial” attitudes.

In a recent essay at Foreign Affairs, Eric X. Li argued that Chinese authoritarianism has proven its superiority over democracy, while at The New Republic, Pankaj Mishra lamented India’s “budding likeness to China—the onset, in particular, of an informal authoritarianism in the hollow shell of a formal democracy” (both via CDT).

January 2, 2013 3:32 PM
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