The Country’s Internet Community Expands, but the Boundaries of Where It Can Go Are Hazy at Best
One week, one Web, two very different outcomes. An angry Chinese father posted his tale of a vacation gone wrong and triggered an Internet uproar that ended last week when the government fired a tourism boss for spoiling the family’s holiday. Meanwhile, a quirky posting about a real estate dispute triggered another Internet uproar that ended Saturday when the government all but silenced discussion.
The story of how Chinese authorities handled these simultaneous cases highlights the shifting boundaries of free expression on China’s fast-growing Internet.
Every day, more Chinese citizens gain access to the Web — and each other, through instant messages, blogs and bulletin board forums. Internet expression has proved to be a potent but uncertain new pillar in Chinese civil society, and as the number of people online climbs past 137 million, the Communist Party alternately embraces and smothers the power of the Web. [Full Text]