How China Polices The Internet

From Financial Times:

An executive working at one of China’s leading internet portals tells me: “The task [for the Communist party] has been to allow enough noise in the system for people to let off steam and make them feel that they are living kind of a free life, but at the same time to maintain a sense of fear and respect that keeps them from demanding big change.”

Meanwhile, internet use is undergoing another profound shift as it extends beyond its predominantly urban base. Already, by the end of 2008, 117 million people, or more than one-third of the country’s web users, could access the internet on their mobile phones. A rapidly growing number use QQ, China’s largest online messaging tool, on their handsets wherever they go. That means that the vast rural hinterland, where about 70 per cent of the population still live, is getting a fast-track link-up to a network via which they can voice their dissatisfaction: about corrupt and despotic officials, unsolved problems of pollution and social security, land grabs and income disparity.

“That is the perfect design for jump-starting social unrest in rural China,” says the internet portal executive. “And I think the chain of ­‘internet mass incidents’ over the past two years is an indication that it has started to work.” The government may have previously been effective in curbing online chatter, he says, “but they didn’t expect the repercussions of all that online noise in the real world”.

July 20, 2009 6:36 PM
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