Diane Wei Liang: A New Tiananmen – but This Time China’s Rebels Are Online

In the Guardian, author Diane Wei Liang writes about the Green Dam software brouhaha, Internet activism, and the 1989 protest movement:

I was a student at Beijing University at the time. My generation and the generation before us had grown up with censorship; there were severe punishments for voicing dissent. My parents were sent to a labour camp during the Cultural Revolution for being intellectuals. When I was 14 years old, I decided that I wanted to become a writer. My mother, who was a professor of Chinese literature, forbade it because writing was one of the most dangerous professions.

The history of modern China has been punctuated by bursts of rebellion followed by bloody crackdown. Throughout the history of the Chinese Communist Party not only has it been dangerous for the protesters, but also the protests have never produced any real impact.

The internet has changed this. The web gave the Chinese people a platform to express their opinions and to have their cases heard, and it is making a difference. The attention given to the case of a young woman working in a public bathhouse in a remote area of China is a good illustration of this.