China Media Project translates an article from Today’s Mass Media, published by the Shaanxi Administration of Press and Publications, about how the Internet has changed the mechanisms of public opinion in China:
The sheer scale of online public opinion in our country is massive, and according to figures released by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) the number of internet users in China has already surpassed 300 million. From People’s Daily Online’s set up of online forums in 1999 to oppose the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, to making a comprehensive surveys of major news stories in recent years, online media have been active participants, and they have manufactured public opinion through the selection of news reports, comments on the news, interactive blogs, news forums and other means. This [mechanism for] public opinion feedback and the [resulting] build up of the public sphere (公共领域) has reached a point where control authorities and all those concerned cannot possibly dismiss them.
Over the past ten years, online public opinion has passed through three stages of infancy (初生), development (发展) and expansion (壮大), and the [internet’s] influence has thoroughly permeated [Chinese] life. The government has also groped its way through the process of online public opinion channeling in each major online public opinion incident occurring over the past ten years, resulting in the emergence of a relatively mature ideological framework and strategy for channeling [of online public opinion].