More developments on China’s road to a new information flow
chart: the New York Times researcher in Beijing who has been in jail for 18
months appears likely to be released ahead of Hu Jintao’s visit to the United
States, and a guy in Shandong who posted an essay on the Internet saying people
have the right to use violent means to overthrow tyranny was sentenced to 10 years
It’s tough for them, finding the right balance on these
issues. But as they are pushed inexorably down the information road, they are
still doing remarkably well at maintaining the dominance of the approved
view amongst ordinary people.
This weekend, I was in Shanghai reading a copy of the Hong
Kong Apple Daily from December of last year – the day after the massive street
rally calling for a timetable for "one man one vote" direct
democracy, to help non-government appointed legislatures withstand pressure to
sign up to the Beijing-approved "when the time is ripe" model. Good
graphics and photos and massive headlines in the traditional Apple Daily “hit
them between the eyes” style. A mainland guy aged around 30 looked at the paper
and at first was convinced it was a hoax, that such a thing could not possibly
take place in China-Hong Kong.
This guy is on the Internet all day and all night long. He is
plugged in and intelligent and he had no knowledge of this march and similar events
in Hong Kong. This is a true measure of Beijing’s success in
addressing the challenge of the Internet.