Last week, I briefly introduced some examples of Internet governance and online activism in China in the class “Comparative Digital Politics” at the University of Michigan. I created a virtual conversation between Chinese government and netizens as the conclusion.
Netizens: With the Internet, we can get access to all kinds of information.
Government: Except those I blocked. (see GFW)
Netizens: With the help of anti-GFW tools, we can climb over the wall.
Government:In fact only a small number of netizens would use these tools. Most of you are not interested in exploring the world beyond the Great Fire Wall.
Netizens: Even inside the Wall, there is still far more information than before. You can’t censor them all.
Government: I don’t need to censor them all. I focus on those may lead to collective actions. (see Gary King’s study)
Netizens: They are already some collective actions organized with digital media. (e.g., anti-PX protest in Xiamen)
Government: But they are mainly on non-political issues. I remain tight control over political issues. (e.g., China’s jasmine revolution)
Netizens: Talking about political issues, the corruption cases of many government officials are disclosed online and they have been arrested. (e.g., the “Brother Wristwatch”)
Government: They are generally low-ranking officials. In fact, you guys helped the central government to combat corruption on local level.
The conversation has not come to an end, and you can try to continue it!