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Official CCP media lashing back at Weibo for setting the agenda

Yesterday morning (8/3) CCTV brought a short segment titled “微博的伦理底线在哪里” (Where is the moral bottom line of Microblogs?) attacking the credibility of information on different microblog services and claiming that they are sources of rumors, fraud, and hidden marketing.

And just now (5/8) Global Times English Edition published an editorial warning the media not to blindly follow the agenda set by weibo claiming that it is too emotional and extreemist:

Use Weibo as a guide, not a master – Global Times


Timing of the critique

The timing of this increased interest in microblogs does not seem coincdental. The storm of attention and messages concerning the recent Wenzhou train crash and the handling of the incident quickly evolved to a more general critique of government incompetence, corruption and disregard for for the ordinary citizen. The ability of weibo to sustain such a massive critique must have been a bit discerning to the CCP.

It seems that the initial response is to try and undermine the credibility of microblogs altogether. It is hardly new to anyone that microblogs can be full of rumors and be highly emotional, so why would official media feel the need to warn against that just now?

The power and weakness of any media with user generated content (UGC) is the lack of editorial filtering – a lot of unverified rumors will inevitably be submitted, but also some very relevant stories that would never have made it through official media channels. This is especially important in a media environment like China with heavy filtering in official media.

Critical commments

While there are certainly plenty of rumors and less-than-credible information on weibo and other microblog services the irony of CCTV questioning the morals of other media is not lost on the users commenting…

A few select comments from the page on

  • CCTV你的道德底线在哪里?
    [CCTV, where is your moral bottom line?]
  • 真是造谣也是他们贼喊捉贼
    [There certaily are lots of rumors, but this is also like a thief yelling “stop the thief”]

Apart from the comments, the segment naturally also sparked some debate on weibo – Oiwan Lam has collected some of the comments in a article on GlobalVoices:

China: Anger Over State TV Attack on Microblogging Platforms


CCP reacts to the criticism online

In the past few days there seems to have been some slight reactions to the massive criticism online (especially on microblogs) following the Wenzhou train accident last month, acknowledging that official handling and communication of the incident has been poor to say the least.

Yesterday the People’s Daily had a short article on how officials interact with the public in “the age of microblogs”.

微博时代如何说话(人民论坛) – Original chinese version

Politics in the age of the microblog – English translation and comments from China Media Project

While pointing out that “weibo” language needs to be concise and honest “ordinary language” there is in amplicit critique of the poor handling of the medium showed by some officials. “Official-speak” (and clear  propaganda as well?)  will be called out by fellow bloggers.

Increasingly microblogs provide an important platform for the communication between officials on all levels and the public and as such it is very much in the interest of the CCP that the communication conveys the correct message and does not incite any “internet unrest”.

Short break in writing

I will be taking some time off from my thesis writing as I have accepted a full time position in web commmunication for the next six months. This blog will not be updated in the period.

See you in the summer of 2011.

Bibliography page

I have added a bibliography page to the blog – the idea is to comprise an extensive overview on research articles and books on the internet in China. For now I have just created a single list based on authors but as it groows longer I might split it up into separate topics.

Feel free to leave a comment if you would like to suggest items for inclusion on the list.

Bibliography page

“Asian Diversity in a Global Context ” conference at the University of Copenhagen

I recently (11-13 november 2010) attended the conference “Asian Diversity in a Global Context” at the University of Copenhagen where I am witing my thesis. While not relating directly to the topic of the internet in China, it had many interesting talks on modern asian societies.

I attended the panel Ideas in Transit on the flow and spread of ideas – both between East and West and within Asia as a region. Of particular interest was the panel on the spread of “green ideas” in Asia and the different approprations of climate discourse. You can find the abstracts for the presentations.

Chinese Internet Research Conference archives

I recently discovered the annual Chinese Internet Research Conference (CIRC) and their websites as a valuable inspiration and resource for access to a comprehensive and diverse look into the current research in the field of  Chinese Internet studies. The conference takes place each year at a different university and under a new theme and the list of speakers seems to provide a healthy balance of well-known authorities and new researchers.

Being new to the field I have not had the chance to attend any of the conferences but hope to do so next year. The most recent conferences still have websites up and running containing list of speakers, abstracts, conference blog, etc. It gives a great overview and insight into the current research in the field.

As far as I can find, the next conference is to be held at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, University of Georgetown, May 2011.