In my opinion China’s recent economic and technological growth since the reforms have left the majority of Chinese satisfied with enough work and an active society, but once this period of prosperity ends, as social and economic stratifications increase the Sinophone Internet will become the space for dissent that many have been waiting for. The use of censorship by the CCP can easily go to far if the government becomes completely authoritarian and wealth and social stratification are aloud to get out of control through corruption. However, the use of the blogosphere as a type of social informal institution could give the CCP the ability to promote a healthy society and stay in power. The line of government censorship is difficult to draw and in the end may define whether or not the CCP lives.
In the article that we read for today titled “Blogging Alone: China, The Internet and the Democratic Illusion?” James Liebold discusses issues over the use of the Chinese Internet as a tool for social change. Liebold points to the fact that, “the internet is normatively neutral and socially malleable”, meaning that it is a representation of much of Chinese past and present culture and can be used like any other media source to influence change. The belief that the Internet would automatically be used for social activism has shown to be false, as the Internet becomes more of an “’entertainment highway’ rather than the ‘information superhighway’” (Liebold). The current use of the Internet in china is most likely due to the large growth period China has been experiencing.
As discussed in Joshua Kurlantzick’s article, “Nonstop Party,” the use of the Internet, as a source of entertainment rather than social change is most likely because the Chinese people are, “less interested in pushing for political change that might upset their standard of living”. China has had an insane growth rate of almost 9.2 percent averaging over the past four years (GDP Growth (annual %)), and because of this the standard of living has been increasing for everyone, in turn subduing political frustration over other social issues. However as this growth rate slows and socioeconomic stratification increases the political dissent will increase. Thus, “China is not unique: in many other developing countries, urban elite have realized that, at least in its initial stages, political freedom could threaten their economic gains, by opening a wider spectrum of society and, potentially, by allowing populist politicians to redistribute wealth”. China realizes the potential for this and so, “the party successfully filters information before it even gets to the average Chinese”.
As China works to filter the Internet just as it does it media, the blogosphere presents a challenge to this approach by offering a field of public voice that may prove to be too large to subdue. The power of a public voice that is free of all political and economic tampering is incredibly valuable for the Chinese government and businesses. A recent article by the economist point to the new industry known as online opinion monitoring that analyzes blogs…