Chinese netizens are growing in power, through their powers to expose both individuals and the government. The online community is more aware of the net’s power to influence as well as to inform. In the recent prison death in Yunnan province and in Deng Yujiao’s case, members of online communities actually came forward and effectively took part in the criminal investigations, attempting to replace state media and the police. In Deng Yujiao’s case, netizens interfered in a number of ways, whether legal or not: visiting her in the psychiatric hospital, probing the crime scene, attempting to protect evidence, and publishing personal details of government officials and their families.
One can’t help asking, not whether there will be another Deng Yujiao, but when? A senior official admitted that public servants have become perceived as public enemies. He has every reason to say so, not because every public servant is corrupt and lustful, but because the public’s frustration under non-credible single party rule is ascending to a boiling point.