China Blog Blotter – Issue #3 Freedom of Speech on the Internet

Chinese Netizens understand that its government controls every form of the media. State censorship is the norm, and Chinese people have come to accept that. Even so, Chinese Netizens regard the internet as a better reflection of reality than traditional media. Through their personal blogs, they are able to express their opinions and engage in dialogues and debate with the rest of the world. Recently a blogger named Han Han choose to discuss the vitality of the internet to the Chinese people, demonstrating that Chinese Netizens value the freedom of speech and expression as do people everywhere.

Han Han starts by first commenting on how internet activity affects the political system. Our blogger indicates that he perceives the internet with a great amount of consideration regarding its shortcomings, knowing that “extreme views or false information may sometimes appear on the internet” when it comes to politics. However, Han Han points out that as biased, extreme, and uninformed as some of these blogs may be, they still provide a conversation that traditional media lacks. In Han Han’s opinion, this conversation is truly the traditional media’s responsibility, like that of the western media. But since it is much easier for the Chinese government to censor traditional media, the internet must pick up the slack.

Next, Han Han discusses how the internet is causing social change in China, and how it compares to other countries. He analyzes language differences and states that “the only difference is English-speaking countries treat the internet as technology, while Chinese-speaking countries treat the internet as medicine.”

Here, Han Han contrasts technology to medicine, which is a powerful statement regarding the Chinese stance on the internet; technology is a luxury, but medicine is a necessity. Medicine is only used when one is sick, so Han Han may be making the comment that the Chinese media is like an ill patient. Therefore, it is even more important for the Chinese to have the internet, because it is arguably the richest pool of resources and outlet to the international public for the Chinese people.

Lastly, Han Han argues that the internet is the best mouthpiece for opinion, as it is simply faster and more direct. Han Han reminds us that it is almost impossible to publish sensitive articles in traditional media, but it is not impossible to do so on the web. The fundamental difference here is that the internet provides the ability to get these articles publicized at all. So “even though others might delete your writing online, at least you can publish your opinion completely.”

Han Han, like many bloggers in China, refers to himself as a writer and an intellectual. “To be a good writer,” Han Han says, “one must publish the words as one wishes.”

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