Development of the Internet in China is the result of government efforts to promote a knowledge-based economy in a global environment – all as part of a master plan to preserve the power of the Chinese Communist Party. The unintended result, however, is the ability of Chinese citizens to create a public space to discuss public and political affairs, as well as creatively express themselves and build up social networks online. For China’s one-party state, controlling the nature of information available to its citizens has never been more difficult.
…… What’s happening in the Chinese cyberspace is a power shift, in the sense that citizens have much more ability to shape the information that goes to the public.
The latest Internet crackdown reflects the dilemma facing the Chinese Communist Party: It wants to have an information-based economy but lacks the political will to promote active political participation by citizens.
In the near future, from the upcoming Party’s Congress to the Beijing Olympics next August, we will see more attempts from the Chinese government to control the information flow, online or offline. But this intensified censorship forces Chinese netizens to express themselves politically in a more nuanced manner. The rise of the blogosphere and other wireless technologies transforms communication, publishing, information flow and social organizations in profound ways. This means the Chinese Internet will continue to be a highly contested space. [Full Text]