The purpose of this blog entry is to compile notes on the scholarly essay entitled, From Grass-Mud Equestrians to Rights-Conscious Citizens: Language and Thought on the Chinese Internet by Perry Link and Xiao Quiang.
Example: A Train Wreck
In 2011, a train wreck occurred in China that resulted in the deaths of 40 people with upwards of 200 being injured. Information about the incident was first unleashed onto in internet via a tweet, which caused the government to release a statement asking people not to talk about it. A poll later asked Chinese citizens why they thought information about the incident was being covered up. 98% thought it was to destroy evidence of something while a mere 2% believed official government statements.
Government Control of the Internet
The Chinese government attempts to control the activity of its citizens on the Internet through the use of things such as word filters, hotlines for the public to call to report issues and even an Internet police force tasked with carrying out the interests of the party.
Internet users in China have attempted to fool word filters in a number of ways, including shortening and lengthening words, borrowing words from other languages and using words with a double meaning.
Does New Language Give Rise to New Thought?
Usage of the internet in China is giving rise to new terms as well as new thought. With new words in a language come new ideas and double meanings behind the words themselves.
“Cyber Assembly” On the Internet
The internet has given the Chinese people more opportunities to “assemble”, especially considering how the Chinese government feels about large groups of people coming together without “good reason”. Through the internet, the people now have more of a voice than they ever had before.
New Identity on the Internet
Groups that people become a part of over the internet essentially can become part of their identity. Internet lingo becomes a source of pride and unity.
Internet Disclosure in Perspective
Despite its best efforts, the CCP cannot hope to keep up with and contain all the information that is being shared on the internet in China.
In conclusion, the internet is becoming a platform for the Chinese people to spring board all their ideas and issues that the government doesn’t want them talking about into public view. I think it will be interesting to see how the CCP’s attitude towards the internet changes when they realize that they can’t control it.