If you were reading the New York Times today, says Rebecca MacKinnon, you probably saw a story about a weird meme on the Chinese internet: the so-called “grass mud horse”.
… The question now is what is going on inside China. Is it healthy? Does it encourage democracy?
The government in Beijing is starting to understand the internet and beginning to engage with the Chinese public online. What is developing is a sense of debate, if not traditional democracy.
“Scholars are calling this a form of authoritarian deliberation – you can have an authoritarian society, but you don’t have democratic institutions, legal protections for free speech or open courts. But you do post comments and videos online.”
But, she adds, “that does not make a democracy”.