- Obama military strategy too weak for future security, panel reports
- Sen. Tom Coburn vows to slow down budget-busting bills ahead of recess
- Obama fantasizes about more executive power, signs new order on federal contractors
- Clintons call Klein, Halper, Kessler ‘a Hat Trick of despicable actors’: report
- Boehner accuses Obama of ‘legacy of lawlessness’
- Pro-marijuana group claims responsibility for Brooklyn Bridge flag swap
- Young adults shun Obamacare mostly due to cost: survey
- Stabbing attack on transgender girl, 15, was ‘bias motivated,’ police say
- LGBT adults still lean overwhelmingly toward Democratic Party
- Lawmakers rattled by Syria genocide horrors, call on Obama to act
At Mao-style conclave, China embraces Twitter age
Question of the Day
BEIJING (AP) - During China’s last party congress, the cadres in charge of the world’s most populous nation didn’t know a hashtag from a hyperlink. But five years on, there’s a new message from Beijing: The political transition will be microblogged.
Party officials have this fall embraced social media with unprecedented enthusiasm, hoping it can help guide public opinion and stir up excitement about the staid and scripted party meeting taking place this week in Beijing that kicks off a transition to a new, younger set of top leaders.
Dozens of the more than 2,000 party delegates, among them Chairman Mao’s grandson, are using social media to wax rhapsodic about China’s rise and Party General Secretary Hu Jintao’s live 90-minute reading of highlights from this year’s party work report. Typical posts include pictures of grinning delegates on Tiananmen Square and mobile snapshots of poinsettia arrangements and chandeliers from inside the Great Hall of the People, where the congress is meeting.
Guo Mingyi, a miner from the frigid northeast who was making his debut as a party delegate, posted, “On this land with great affections, how can I not sing, how can I not tear up, I love this piece of land, the people and the great Chinese Communist Party!”
State media also are posting microblog interviews with officials and shooting out updates about the congress schedule.
Twitter and Facebook have been blocked by the government since they were instrumental in anti-government protests in Iran two years ago. Instead, the government has encouraged homegrown alternatives in the apparent belief that they would be more responsive to its demands. China’s main Twitter-like microblogging site Sina Weibo now has more than 300 million registered users.
But apart from being a tool to deliver Beijing’s approved policy messages to the mobile phones of ordinary Chinese, the Internet has become a two-way street that’s also being used by the public to poke fun at and critique the propaganda. Online commentators have compared the gushy crying and clapping of some delegates over Hu’s speech to North Korean-style mass hysteria.
Responding to state media reports about how a female delegate, Li Jian, cried five times at Hu’s work report, a Sina Weibo user writing under the name “Buying Soysauce” wrote: “I sobbed uncontrollably too, at the thought that these people were my compatriots.”
Wang Keqin, the assistant to the editor-in-chief of Beijing’s Economic Observer magazine, wrote about the tears of another delegate, He Guiqin, “It’s back to North Korea overnight!”
Other critics have dredged up old headlines from 1987 about the scourge of bribe-seeking and posted them online to highlight how little party rhetoric, and party problems, have changed despite major social change over the last three decades.
The clash of ideas underscores just how important the Internet has become in China’s campaign to guide public opinion _ a major shift from just a few years ago.
But as elsewhere, China’s Internet population has exploded over the last five years, jumping from 170 million to more than 500 million today. Social media have boomed with it and now play a huge part in everyday Chinese life, particularly for urban residents who use it to find restaurants, jobs and mates.
Beijing’s initial reaction to social media was to block and censor, to limit conversations by banning access to Twitter and Facebook and to limit mention of anything considered sensitive or destabilizing with keyword filters. Though authorities still use those tactics, the government is increasingly proactive and working to wrest control of the online conversation by flooding the zone with its own content.
David Bandurski, a researcher with the China Media Project at Hong Kong University, said Chinese officials have learned that simply banning or blocking reports is no longer effective in the porous Internet sphere and that stifling information can backfire by fanning more interest in scandals and crises and sparking online rumors.
TWT Video Picks
By Ted Cruz
Israel saves its enemies; Hamas endangers its friends
- Inside the Ring: Israel surprised by Hamas tunnel network
- Army's 3-D printed bombs to create 'a whole new universe' of lethal capabilities
- GOP leaders delay border bill, leave Obama in control
- Chicken pox outbreak puts illegal immigrant facility on lockdown
- CIA admits improperly hacking Senate computers in search of Bush-era information
- Report: 40% of weapons sent to Afghanistan are unaccounted for
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
- Israel surprised by Hamas tunnel network
- 3 African leaders cancel trip to U.S. over Ebola outbreak; Obama still plans summit
- GOP report sees ties between rich donors, green 'nonprofits'
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world