Country Spotlight: China
China is a nation going through a remarkable transformation. It is rapidly growing and industrializing, which has improved the quality of life to most citizens. China's growth, however, poses major challenges to the government. The Communist Party of China strictly regulates speech, assembly, and other activities. Yet maintaininng economic growth requires that citizens have a lot of freedom to buy, invest, and start new businesses. The tension between enforcing restrictions to maintain control and order and promoting freedom to foster economic growth has put the Chinese government in a difficult position. New technologies have given the Chinese people more power to campaign for freedoms. China has more internet users than any other nation. The government has been especially sensitive to the power of the internet, and have established the most comprehensive website filtering and censorship system in the world. China's tremendous and growing importance and unique position as a repressive state with a free market make it one of the nations where social movements using modern technology can have the most impact.
1. Human Rights:
In China, the struggle for human rights has been the focus of most social movements.
2. International Pressure:
China is also under international pressure. Because of the government's harsh response to protests, social movements have adapted their strategies to make small strides for change while avoiding crackdowns. However, certain activists draw enough attention to anger the government. 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo has been sent to jail repeatedly, and after he received the award the government started taking action against his wife as well. The Chinese government's continuing efforts to stifle online discussion of sensitive topics has led to the development of a variety of technologies to circumvent government censors (check out how-to guides and the toolbox for a list of helpful programs).
Timeline of Major Chinese Social Movements:
Continuous: Rural unrest in China leads to various protests in the provinces. Recently these have been caused by the government seizing land from farmers and relocated people
1978-1981: Inspired by Wei Jingsheng and reacting to the Cultural Revolution, social movements begin pushing for more democracy in China. They are subsequently suppressed
1987: Village elections are introduced, which allows more participation among Chinese citizens. The legitimacy of these elections today is disputed
June 1989: Tiananmen Square protests demanding political reform are brutally quashed. Discussion of the massacre is still strictly censored in China today
February-? 2011: "Jasmine Revolution", organized online, provokes a major government reaction despite minimal actual protesting
China: Censors vs. Citizens summarizes the Chinese government's censorship policies and activist efforts to combat them
Movements.org is blocked in China discusses ways to tell if a foreign site is blocked in China, and ways to make sure the site's content can still be accessed
There is a Jasmine Revolution in China argues that the "Jasmine Revolution", launched by international dissidents, was more effective than most analysts think
Chinese Dissident wins Nobel discusses the implications of Liu Xiaobo receiving the Nobel Peace Prize for China's reform movements
Liu Xiaobo's Nobel, one week in looks at the reaction among activists to Liu Xiaobo winning the Nobel Peace Prize
The Dictator's Dilemma argues that the Chinese government may be inadvertently fostering protests with policies that are designed to prevent them
Anti-Japanese protests in China examines protests against Japan joining the security council to understand how Chinese citizens were able to coordinate protests in a nation where political organizing is illegal
Using Language to Evade Online Censorship in China explains how Chinese dissidents use unusual word choice to avoid detection by the government's censorship programs