26/09/2012

Netizens In China Are Coming Into Their Own And This Signals A Social Revolution

Censoring the bloggers
Censoring the bloggers
Gu Suhua writes from Beijing: The social media is feasting on the details of the Wang Lijun trial. You remember that he was the police chief in Chongqing, a self-governing city of 32 million inhabitants. He fell out with the Party boss of the city, Bo Xilai, when he informed him of the misdeeds of his wife, Gu Kailai. The naughty madam was involved in the murder of Neil Heywood, a British businessman. Neil was the conduit for laundering the family money. Most of it came through London. When Wang told Bo about the illegal activities of his wife, he slapped Wang around the chops. Now that is a serious insult in China. Wang came to the conclusion that if he stayed in Chongqing, he might end up in a box very quickly. He told the Americans everything he knew but they would not grant him asylum. Washington was not going to protect a cop who had himself committed some terrible crimes. He was instrumental in arresting and eventually executing dozens of hoods. Were they all hoods or just opponents of Bo and Wang?
Now that that trial is over and an unprecedented amount of information about Wang’s corrupt dealings with hoods and businessmen was broadcast, Chinese netizens are looking forward to an even bigger show: the trial of Bo Xilai. That will be lip smacking good and worth a thrill a minute. The big comrades in Beijing want to squash Bo. Why? Well, he was disrespectful towards them when he was Party boss in Chongqing. As a princeling or the son of a Revolutionary general, he thought he was a cut above those in Beijing. He had a Jekyll and Hyde character. He was charming to outsiders, especially foreign businessmen and journalists, but vindictive and brutal towards his subordinates. They all hated him and rejoiced in his downfall.
There are 513 million Chinese who have access to computers and social networks. It is a hopeless task for Beijing to try and censor them. Every time something is banned, they find ways round it. Type in Bo Xilai and there is no information. However netizens have their own code for Bo and can communicate the latest rumours.
anti-Japanese demonstration
Anti-Japanese demonstration
An interesting question arises. To what extent is the present anti-Japanese demonstrations orchestrated from above or spontaneous from below? Huge numbers of people in many cities have marched with banners aloft. Japanese restaurants have been ransacked. Japanese companies, such as Panasonic and Canon, have suspended operations. One of the Panasonic factories has been wrecked. This is economically stupid. It means its Chinese workers are now unemployed. A newspaper has even advocated a nuclear attack on Japan.
The social media has fuelled the fury. However something strange appears to be going on. Some of the banners during the demonstrations have portraits of Mao Zedong.
It is strange because under Mao there were never any anti-Japanese demonstrations. This means that those who support Bo Xilai’s revival of Maoism are making clear to Beijing that his views on social policy are still relevant. Bo built a lot of social housing and looked after migrant workers. He also wanted reducing the gap between the rich and the poor to become central policy.
One can argue that China has now reached a stage of development which makes it difficult to manage from Beijing. Huge social problems have emerged. People will no longer accept passively what the authorities decree. We are now in the age of the blogger. This is the new force in Chinese politics. This post was first published on Stirring Trouble Internationally - (A humorous take on news and current affairs)

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