Peter Winter is a junior majoring in International Relations and East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Southern California. He published this article in last month’s US_China Today website:
Text messages pass along more than just knock-knock jokes in China; to the displeasure of some leaders, they are also a popular way to express public opinion.
While American politicians worry about their political gaffes becoming fodder for countless blogs, Chinese officials are doing more than watching anxiously; they are cracking down. The fight, however, has been more difficult than anticipated. Why? Because these dissidents have a weapon even the Chinese government has trouble with: text messages — and often humorous ones at that.
Text messages have taken on a new purpose in China, quickly becoming the preferred mode of voicing public opinion. From jokes about current Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaders to quips about the people’s thirst for money, text message-enabled cell phones have granted millions of people, especially younger generations, digital freedom of speech and access to information . Think digital “Suggestion Box” for a country that has never worried much about customer service.
… This is China’s new revolution. Citizens are turning to weblogs, text messages and YouTube-style videos to voice their opinions, often at the ruling CCP’s expense. With new technology, China’s virtual linkages are playing a critical role within society, allowing people to voice opinion and maintain distant relationships. Digital culture has led to social activism and new freedoms, and China’s citizens are embracing it all quickly, one text at a time. [Full Text]