As we have seen with recent taxi strikes and the riot in Longnan, Gansu, the Chinese government is employing a new strategy to deal with instances of social unrest: report it first and thereby determine the message. David Bandurski recently wrote about what he terms “Control 2.0” on China Media Project, here and here. Today, in the International Herald Tribune, government officials freely acknowledge that they have been forced into this new tactic by the power of the Internet:
“The Chinese government has started to loosen its control on the negative information,” said one of the sources, an academic close to the propaganda authorities who declined to be identified. “They are trying to control the news by publicizing the news.”
A Communist Party official confirmed that the policy on dissemination of news had gradually changed this year.
“It’s almost impossible to block anything nowadays, when information can spread very quickly on the Internet,” said the official, who was not identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media. “We also noticed that it will benefit us if we report the news first.”