Saturday, November 26, 2005

Blogs and China

China's government is locked in an ongoing contest with advances in information technology. At issue is whether these advances have the effect of enhancing freedom of expression or whether they can be turned around to efficiently regulate expression. A New York Times story on blogging in China indicates that the proliferation of blogs is leading to the loosening of social restraints as well as political ones. Especially notable is this passage:

A leading practitioner of the sly, satirical style that is emerging here as an influential form of political and social commentary is a 38-year-old Beijing entertainment journalist named Wang Xiaofeng. Mr. Wang, who runs a site called Massage Milk, is better known to bloggers by his nickname, Dai San Ge Biao, which means Wears Three Watches.

His blog mixes an infectious cleverness with increasingly forthright commentary on current events, starting with his very nickname, which is a patent mockery of the political theory of the former Chinese Communist Party chief Jiang Zemin, which was labeled San Ge Dai Biao, or the Three Represents.

In a recent commentary, as the government stoked patriotic sentiment during the commemoration of the defeat of the Japanese in World War II, Mr. Wang asked who really fought the enemy, making the provocative observation that only two Communist generals had died fighting Japan, while more than 100 of their Nationalist counterparts had.

"In blogging I don't need to be concerned about taboos," Mr. Wang said. "I don't need to borrow a euphemism to express myself. I can do it more directly, using the exact word I want to, so it feels a lot freer."

We'll have to see how long Wang gets to express such sentiments. The point that the Communists barely fought the Japanese is particularly incendiary as it cuts at the roots of the story the regime tells about itself. The recent Mao biography by Chang and Halliday documents the lack of Communist resistance to the Japanese at some length - turning on its head the long retailed myth of Mao's nationalism.


Anonymous preetam rai said...

Actually its no big deal, most Chinese already know that half the things the CCP says is rubbish. Most of the Cultural revolution or Tiananmen people are still alive. You hear the funnies Mao jokes on the trai. For most people as long as there is growth and no major uncertainity, there is no much reason to dig up the past.

December 02, 2005 4:03 PM  

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