China and the Internet: The Genie Is Out of the Chinese Bottle

This is an editorial article on The Asian Wall Street Journal, via A Glimpse of the World blog:

The fact that millions of Chinese have gathered online to protest ’s bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council will come as no surprise to anyone who has spent more than 10 minutes on the mainland. Anti-Japanese sentiment permeates all levels of society.

The wild card in this equation is the , which has condoned this activity. If the party now tries to shove the genie back into the bottle, it would be acting too late to suppress the image of rabid nationalism that has been put on display. The online petition originated from several overseas Web sites, but has spread throughout the mainland, where major Web portals such as such as Sina, Sohu and Netease were reported as having surpassed 10 million signatures. Another Chinese Web site, China918.net, boasted over 16 million signatures as of earlier this week, leading to estimates that this could be the largest Internet mobilization in China’s history.

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