Blogs, bulletin boards help Chinese get access to some of the real story – Gady A. Epstein
It was on the Internet that anti-Japanese sentiments coalesced into a real-world movement, generating huge street demonstrations in Chinese cities last spring. And it was on the Internet that a routine car accident, in which a BMW struck and killed someone, became a flash point for angry debate about China’s growing divide between rich and poor.
The government often steps in when these debates appear to become broad-based and politically charged. But Chinese cyberspace has grown to such a size that any blog or bulletin board can become a platform faster than the government can shut it down.
“The Internet and emerging civil society in China are energizing each other,” said Xiao Qiang, director of the China Internet Project at the University of California, Berkeley by e-mail. Bulletin boards and blogs have “provided a communication forum for citizen participation in Chinese public life.”