The ‘blog’ revolution sweeps across China
November 26th, 2004
  • Comments Off on The ‘blog’ revolution sweeps across China
    by

In the current Chinese cyberspace, bloggers may not be as loud as their American counterparts. But they are potentially certainly no less subversive to the dominant paradigm. Hope will be born from their whispers.

The New Scientist published an interesting article of Xiao Qiang on the Chinese blog revolution. The following is a condensed abstract of the story on the blogosphere in China.

Ever since the Communist party took power in 1949, the Chinese media has been tightly controlled by the government. Online publishing is a real threat to that control, and the government is clearly worried. A crackdown in 2003 closed websites and internet cafes and saw the arrest of dozens of online commentators. The government fears that uncontrolled online information will cause the regime to collapse.

Technology writer Fang Xingdong in Beijing, started a news and commentary website, BlogChina.com, which covers the development of China’s IT industry.

Fang coined the Chinese term bo ke to mean blogger. He encouraged his readers to try blogging by registering on blogger.com. “Blogging is a true revolution,” he wrote. “One needs zero technology training, zero institution and zero cost to become a blogger.”

By January 2003, China had about 2000 bloggers when, without warning, the Chinese government blocked all access to blogspot.com, the server that hosts all blogs registered on blogger.com.

The net police do not make the reasons for such actions public, but Chinese bloggers point out that DynaWeb, an anti-censorship service run by overseas Chinese, had been using a blog on blogspot.com to publish proxy server addresses that allowed users to get around the Great Firewall. The authorities’ blanket blockade affected all China’s bloggers, leaving them suddenly unable to reach their journals.

The censors probably did not anticipate the bloggers’ response. For many, blogging had become an addictive activity. With nowhere else to go, many followed Mao’s lead and started to look for solutions inside China.

Three small start-ups offered them a refuge; Blogcn.com, Blogdriver.com and Blogbus.com. All were blog-hosting services started just a couple of months earlier by people who had first gathered on Mao’s website. All were based inside China, and inside the Great Firewall.

In early 2003, most Chinese who wanted to comment online were using not blogs, but online forums like bulletin boards and chat rooms. These allowed people to express themselves anonymously and therefore safely, and were already beginning to have a social impact.

Meanwhile blogging seems set to grow as a national hobby for the younger generation. Providers of China’s 300 million mobile phones are beginning to provide “moblogging” services, with which users can send text and photos directly from their phones to their blogs. For now, most blogs are personal, but their potential for building networks of people and disseminating news cannot be underestimated.

Xiao Qiang is the director of the China Internet Project at the University of California at Berkeley. He runs China Digital News blog at chinadn.org.


Fatal error: Call to undefined function sociable_html() in /home/permutype/smartmobs.com/wp/wp-content/themes/smartmobs/single.php on line 36