The Right To Know

'The statistics on quantitative expansion of media in China are mind-boggling: more than 400 million internet users, 220 million blogs, 800 million mobile-phone subscribers, more than 2000 newspapers and 9000 thousand magazines, some 2200 TV stations and more, all increasingly commercialized. Still, the party remains in control...

Censorship is an organic part of the party-state and will no doubt remain a crucial weapon, but its usage is increasingly exposed as the Chinese internet society becomes aware of the extent to which entrenched party interests determine their access to information. As a consequence, an idea of a “right to know” is taking shape in China’s rapidly growing online civil society and this could, in Shirk’s analysis, become “the rallying cry of the next Chinese revolution.”

While internet freedom clearly is not about to be declared, civil society and new technology will over time push limits beyond the axiomatic boundaries of the party-state. A critical point will be, as Lagerkvist puts it, when the demands for changes offline will be sufficiently strong to change the game. The party’s control may be “lost” and tested, but it’s not about to crash and burn. The fifth generation taking over in 2012 can be expected to try more deliberative forms of authoritarianism and new combinations of repression and responsiveness as it struggles to maintain its power monopoly in a society that changes faster than the party can.'

- Borje Ljunggren, 'Big Brother Watching.'


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