Rebecca MacKinnon: What Does Charter 08 Mean? Too Soon to Tell…

Rebecca MacKinnon has posted a lengthy discussion of Charter 08 which includes commentary from people she has talked with inside China. She writes:

Most people I’ve spoken with are not particularly optimistic that China will attain the goals outlined in Charter 08 any time soon, and some were skeptical that China ever will. Many felt that the first step is to build platforms that enable the Chinese people to engage in an informed discourse about their future so that concrete solutions and strategies for getting from A to B – or perhaps to some other Point C – can eventually emerge. The Internet is already facilitating a great deal of discourse, despite all the censorship, propaganda, nationalism, manipulation, and cyber-mob behavior. A more constructive discourse would be possible, many argue, if a law could be passed upholding the right of journalists to do their jobs. Thus some people are focusing on building professionalism and improving the quality of Chinese journalism, and trying to push for more media freedoms. Another step, which I heard from many people, was the need to build a stronger sense of citizenship throughout Chinese society: people need to take responsibility for the problems they see around them, and get in the habit of doing what they can to help improve whatever is in their power to improve, however small. Not to change the whole country right away, but to make small changes in their own communities.

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