2010 is already off to a chapping start, but things aren’t so icy on the Chinese media front. Tania Branigan has given us this succinct report of how citizen activism, political discussion, tighter censorship and propaganda struggles could well intensify this year. Things have already kicked off, with cyber activism going full steam ahead: recently, netizens have been tweeting away and registering the Internet domain name CN4IRAN.org in support of December’s protests in Tehran.
The kind folk over at China Media Project have translated and served up a guide to this year’s direction of external news and propaganda. According to the country’s State Council Information Office (SCIO), China “must effectively engage the international struggle for public opinion” and “raise our nation’s cultural soft power.”
And, true to form, no time has been wasted in following through. In the past two days, IMDB has been blocked (although access to CN4IRAN.org remains free-flowing), and Tibetan filmmaker Dhongdup Wangchen has been jailed for six years for his documentary, Leaving Fear Behind, which highlighted Tibetan anger with Chinese policies before the 2008 Olympics. In the past week, the New York Times also reported that Liu Xiaobo appealed the 11 year sentence handed to him on Christmas Day, which has 45 days to be considered.
This also may well be a big year for Ai Weiwei (whose 2009 wasn’t exactly quiet, either). Besides setting up the Earthquake Student Names Citizen’s Investigation, which found around 5000 names of children who died during the Sichuan earthquake, the artist has been busy tweeting and speaking out against the CCP’s various moves. Most recently, he has been heralded as the ‘new model for the intellectuals’.
Today, the government is a part of us, and we are a part of the government; society is a part of us, and we are a part of society. Everyone must assume [this responsibility], whether it’s in their consciousness, part of their mentality, or it’s something they do; everyone is expressing how they want society to be.