Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Defend vs. Denounce: People Show Conflicting Attitude toward the Chinese Government on the Internet

When some Chinese people were using the Internet as the platform to voice dissent against the party-rule government, a 23-year-old college graduate posted a long comment on an online public forum, calling on the public to trust the state government, love the country and be unified to build a stronger China.

More comments to this post, however, deride it than support it, partly because web users in China are more used to making or reading criticism than complimentary of the government on the Internet.

The poster, named Shouxi Niuren ("The No.1 Man") on the forum, apparently was prompted to say something after reading too much denunciation of the government on the Internet.

"I just don't understand why we can't face [the government] with a fair attitude," he writes in the post, titled "We Have Reasons to Trust our Country and Government."

To him, it is understandable that there will be all kinds of problems coming up in the development process. He believes that the vast majority of government officials are "truly serving the people," and that China's country leaders could become leaders because "their IQ and capability are absolutely beyond ours."

Some commentators of this post called it sick, blind-talking, and "a nauseating high-school political education text." Another announced, "Only love the country, but not the Party, because there is no way to love it."

People also made their own political statements in their comments. One person made a list of things for the government to do to achieve democracy, including allow free speech, remove party organs from universities to allow free thinking, allow other political parties and universal suffrage.

Those who supported the post said people should be more positive about China's social reality, "in fact, is there any country and society that has no defects?" Others agreed with Shouxi Niuren that those who always condemned the government on the Internet did not have the right view of the country.

Some radicals in China already intended to stir public opposition against the Chinese government via the Internet. In one of the latest incidents, Zhejiang writer Zhang Jianhong, pen name Li Hong, "defamed the Chinese government and current social system and incited subversion of the state government" in over 60 articles published on foreign-hosted websites last year, Xinhua reported. On Monday, he was convicted of "inciting overthrow of the state government" and sentenced by a Ningbo court to six years in jail.

Whether or not to trust the government is also an ongoing discussion on other Chinese public forums. On huayue forum, for example, one poster says the Communist Party has been controlled by corrupt officials and some capitalists and lost the support of the people.

"But if we did not support it, who else can we support?" asks the poster, who is concerned that without the rule of the Party, China could be disrupted and fall into conflicts of regional powers.

"So long as it [the Party] holds fast to the interest of the country and the nation, I still don't want it to collapse, until the rebirth of a party that represents the interest of the people."

Shouxi Niuren post

Huayue forum

Zhang Jianhong sentence


hari deepak said...

But i really cannot understand this internet censorship mrs.liu..........i am not sure how internet censorship is helping the services sector in china....Are the software companies in china being given a raw hand in this deal.....Also will western outsoucing comapanies continue to tolerate having to enforce censorship just to have their presence in the fastest growing economy in this world?....Though i really appreciate many policies which chinese government has,internet cesorship does not seem to be one of them.......If i want to say post an article on a controversial topic like say taiwanese freedom i can use some tunneling software,bypass the censorship and continue to post articles anonymously..Why does the government need to spend millions of dollars trying to enforce censorship when it could divert them to some other more useful projects?What is your personal opinion on this as a chinese?

Also i have one more critical question i want to ask you......When most of the young chinese today want to go abroad for higher studies western universities upon graduation what is stopping chinese government from making english the first language?Is chinese language so important to chinese culture?

I have also read that chinese are learning english very aggressively nowadays...also to be noted is hu jintao's claim that by 2020 every chinese citizen can speak fluent english...How is the current level of profeciency of english in china today?

Sorry i am always posting long comments...I only wanted to have a good discussion/debate....but your articles are always bringing to the surface many questions i have regarding china..really very relevant articles....keep posting more....

Josie Liu said...

Hey Hari, thanks for the comment.

For the first question about Internet censorship, I think there is no much difference between that and the government censorship on the press in general. It’s all about control of information and public discussion, something almost inevitable when the country is ruled by a single party.

As for the language question, Chinese is Chinese people’s first language, period. Just like French is French people’s first language, and other languages are the first langue of other nations in the world. Just because many Chinese youth coming to study in the US or other countries does not mean Chinese is no longer their first language.

I don't know where you got the idea that "most of the young Chinese today want to go abroad for higher studies," but it is certainly not true. There are many young people considering studying abroad, but they are not the majority, and even fewer did go abroad.

According to statistics of China’s Ministry of Education, there are 380,000 Chinese students studying abroad (http://www.china.org.cn/english/features/38284.htm), comparing to the total of 217,000,000 Chinese youth, not to mention the total 1.4 billion of Chinese.

Taking a look at the U.S., just because Spanish-speaking population is now the largest minority group in the country does not mean that English should be replaced by Spanish as the national language of the US. Also, there are thousands of Americans learning Chinese, too.

Chinese is one of the oldest languages in the world. It is rich and beautiful and carries a tremendous amount of human civilization and wisdom. There would not have been Chinese civilization and culture without the Chinese language. Similarly, can you imagine American or English culture without the English language?

Chinese people are learning English because it is useful, but only a small portion of the learners are really fluent in English. Having said that, I think the younger generation is doing better. Still, Chinese is our first language, and will always be.

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