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The Power of China’s Microbloggers

on Wed, 05/02/2012 - 19:37

China’s growing online community presents a unique set of challenges to the current regime. Through code words and allusions, bloggers have been able to circumvent the sophisticated array of computer programs and censors designed to limit of threatening viewpoints and sensitive information. Further, China has been unsuccessful in containing information spread from outside the country, most notably by Boxun, a Chinese language Internet site based in the United States. Boxun, despite the efforts of the Chinese government, has published important details on the Bo Xilai scandal.

In time, the Internet may prove to be uncontrollable by any force, no matter how sophisticated. In the longer term, this may force the Chinese government to become more responsive to the concerns of its citizens—who are provided a powerful voice through Internet blogging. Weibo, a series of twitter-like Chinese microblogs, have proved to be at the center of political commentary. Their use has become so profuse and so ingrained in the daily lives of Chinese citizens that their shutdown would provoke widespread anger. Thus, the Chinese government is forced to use the Internet to advocate its own position: it must answer for what can’t be swept under the rug online. More and more Chinese citizens are discussing important political issues online—and this trend will only continue into the future. Time will tell if the Internet will contribute to a noticeable increase in political transparency and accountability.

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