Zhang Ming: Microblogs Can’t Give Us Justice

Several recent cases have proven that online public opinion expressed through microblogs can help ensure some political accountability where otherwise none would exist (ie the Li Gang case). But for China Media Project, Zhang Ming argues that Chinese people shouldn’t rely on microblogs to bring social justice as power can still easily be manipulated:

We live in the age of the automobile in China, and we see many of our society’s problems manifested over luxury sedans and the special powers and privileges they have come to symbolize. No one dares lift a finger when traffic laws are broken by the powerful. The violator need only mention that he knows such-and-such a person in the traffic police division and the whole matter is neatly smoothed over. When this is how things really work, what good is it to announce a national campaign against drunk driving?

In the olden days, Chinese waited for the benevolent official of myth and fiction to come and deliver justice. Today, people wait for microblogs to apply pressure, administering some semblance of justice.

In a sense, of course, this is a mark of progress. But why is it that simple justice can only come if pressure from microblogs are brought to bear? Do police in Nanchang not know how to handle a traffic accident? That’s not it, of course. They don’t need people teaching them how to do their jobs through microblogs.

What microblogs do is apply public opinion pressure. And if truth be told, the authorities in Nanchang don’t exactly live in fear of public opinion. To the extent that online public opinion serves any purpose at all, this is only because the superiors of those involved are keen to manage the possible impact on their own careers.

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