Monday, May 7, 2012

Chen Guangcheng, Technology, and the Rise of a Democratic China

Chen Guangcheng, a Chinese activist who has recently sought refuge at the U.S. Embassy, fears for his family as they have been placed under house arrest, most recently Guangcheng's nephew was beat by "thugs".  Chen Guangcheng, a blind human rights activist and lawyer, has fought for years against the excessive force used in the one child law, resulting in unwanted abortions as well a number of human rights and environmental violations.  He is currently kept in a hospital room, away from the public and under supervision by the Chinese government.  American diplomats have been warned to not get involved in the affairs of the Chinese government, which have strained current Chinese-American relations.  Activists in China have taken to Weibo, a hybrid of twitter and Facebook, to call upon fellow activists to gather and protest for Guangcheng's freedom.  The Chinese and U.S. government are still struggling to find an amiable solution for both parties, and in a video from the AP, Vice President Joe Biden expresses concern for Guangcheng and wishes to provide safety to the activist and his family through the form of a study abroad program.

Chen Guangcheng, is one of many Chinese dissidents who have tried to seek refuge in the United States, which continues to perpetuate the idea that American democracy is the purest form of democracy to the Chinese.  While their image of America is far from the realities, it shows a longtime movement toward democracy that many Chinese are hoping for.  With the advent of Weibo, despite the censorship it faces, still provides the Chinese some form of communication.  Some even argue that it may be time for East to turn democratic.  It may be difficult now,  but there are factors that show a systemic crisis on the rise and Guangcheng and his supporters on Weibo show this.  Not only that, but they are receptive to change and new technologies are giving them a new perspective.  As much as government officials try to fight the rise of technology in China, the great Chinese firewall can't censor an idea once it has started to spread.  Digital activists and citizen journalism is on the rise, as news of Guangcheng hits the states. Guangcheng, with the use of Weibo by his supporters are giving the Chinese new means to be innovative, so long as they continue to stay one step ahead of the government.  If a blind self taught lawyer is a threat to the red state, than the future of the Chinese, technology, and democracy is sure to become China's next nightmare.

1 comment:

  1. I like how you are taking a truly breaking story about Chen Guangcheng and providing a connection to digital news spreading (rather than news gathering) via Weibo. Analysis of a few specific examples of how activists are using the site might help American audiences understand more about cultural differences (or similarities) in how the news is read there. I might suggest trying also to interrogate binary terms like "democracy" and "censorship."