The Social Networking And Political Participation Media Essay

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Since the Reform and Open policy, China Communist Party turned its attention to economic development and social reconstruction. In 2004, after decades of economic reform the Chinese government proposed its strategic objective of social development to establish a "harmonious society"-a conceptual framework that changed the country's focus from. economic growth to overall societal balance. This drive appeared in response to an emerging tide of social activism that deals with problems that arose during the reform period. (Lee & Hsing,2009). However, with the development of marketization and globalization, Chinese's democratic aspirations run unprecedentedly high. So economy income increment of in the meantime the demand political participation also at increment.

"Political participation" is one of the important dimensions to measure political development and degree of political civilization. the seventeen of the CCP's report has made it clear that "expand citizens' orderly political participation at all level and fields, widely mobilize and organize as many people as possible to manage state and social affaires as well as economic and cultural undertaking in accordance with the law.

Political participation in China

The definition of Political participation including several implications as follows

First, the main participant of political participation is citizens and all kinds of social organizations.

Second, political participation is the concentrated expression of stakeholder's attitude

Third, political participation is not only the process of citizens and social organizations pressure on political decision-making,but also the process of citizens and social organizations speak to themselves

Last, the influence of political participation is mutual, not only the participant affect decision-making, but also the government actions also impact on initiative and interest of participants

The forms of political participate

There are various traditional forms of political participation. and there are four typical ways in China : election, political association, political expression and Xinfang

Election is one of the most important part in political participation. because politic, economy and society are all involved in and election is the most direct and extensive participation. Political association refers to groups which organized by people who want to fight and protect their interests. Political expression means citizens and social organizations express their opinions and observations by legal channels.

XinFang means petition is a particular political expression way in China. Citizens and groups apply for an audience with the higher authorities to appeal for help. The XinFang system, which allows citizens who feel they are being mistreated by local officials to file a complaint with higher authorities, is inefficient. (

A new political participations forms based on social networking

E-Democracy is "the use of information and communications technologies an strategies by 'democratic sectors' with the political processes of local communitites state/regions, nations and on the global stage.(steven 2003). E-domocracy is a new form of democracy which based on network technology innovation, it emphasized on political participation according to interaction between citizens and government in the cyberspace. the background of the rise of E-Democracy are: 1.the trend of political democratization is the politic background of E-Democracy; 2.the rapid development of the modern network technology become an immediate driving force for the E-Democracy; 3.Marketisation has turned media organizations into self-interested economic entities, which in turn has motivated the media to challenge the Party's control.(Xiaoling Zhang,2011:60), globalization has introduced the Western concept of democracy into China; 4.the developments of social and economic is the social context of the rise of E-Democracy.

A social network is a set of relationships between a group of "actors"(the "actors" could be individuals, departments and so on) who usually have similar interest. Through social networks, and individuals outreach is enlarged and the potential for learning in enhanced.(Jay Liebowite,2007:3).

The history of social networking in the Chinese campaign.

Accompanying the lunch of internet and rapid increase of netizen, the online participation in China was appeared in the mid the end of 2010, the statistics data supplied by the china internet network information center (CNNIC) showed that total number of internet users was 4.57 hundred million, and the penetration of internet was 34.3%.the total scale of internet users was in the 23.2% in the world.(li li 2011)


Number of internet users in China internet penetration in China

So far, the internet in China is the fastest-developing in the world. People come to obtain the latest political information, anti-corruption supervision and politic communication through internet

The develop of online political participation in China went through three important period

First, infancy period.

One BBS was established by two students in Tsinghua to serve as a platform for discuss public affairs. In 1996, with the approach of Mukden incident anniversary, many people expressed rabid opinions on the BBS. It was the first time

Second grow up period.

In 1999, the second day after the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia had been bombed, the people daily online was opened the "the forum of protest NATO atrocity", it was the first news BBS in China. After that, a number of BBS like "jinhua BBS" and "the east BBS" have been established. Internet forum and virtual community were known as a new pathway to participate in politics.

Third developing period

Rapid development of online political participation since 2005.every year during the two sessions (national people's congress and Chinese people's political consultative conference), an online communication channel is opened by Xinhuanet to serves for internet users communicated with premier.

Microblog is a platform which is based on information sharing, transmission and obtaining. it is characterized by low-using standard, issuing optionally, spreading quickly and strong interaction, etc. it develops rapidly in the recent years and one of its main applications includes the public participation. So microblog will be the basic research object in this paper. The main current microblog in China are: Sina Weibo, Tencent Weibo.

The features of microblog

The main function of microblog

Based on the twitter, microblog in China has carried on the localization transformation. Except the function of real-time information issuance, it also has some features of Social Network Site.1.Information publish. Users can publish texts, pictures,Web Links or other multimedia data 2. Followed micorbolgger. What the micorbolgger publish will present on the home page of followers 3. Reposted.users can reposted the information what they interest to their home page in order to make information diffusion. 4.comments. users present opinion on the information they interst function searching directly what users want looking foe 6.@username @ mention it is function remind users to view some important imformatio 7.private message. Private message realize private real-tome communication. 8.micro topic and micro group(a group of microblog users)

Reasons of political participation

1. Breaking the limitation of the institutional political participation and removing obstacles for public opinion expression

Except the low-level people's congresses, all other levels of people's congresses are indirect election. The CPPCC members are nominated by parties and then the come out after discuss with the ruling party. This kind of reality determine that the limitation of CPPCC members which cannot listen public opinions overall.

2. Expanding the public sphere space and riching political participation channel

Public sphere covers civil society, public power and personal field, which is an intermediate between public power and civil field. In the past, the political discourse was mastered by elite and power bloc. After the appears of microblog, the features of opening, liberal, and interactive allow grassroots to express their politic opinions

3.Setting up the rational criticism platform and cultivating civic culture.

Uses in microblog only display nickname other than show real ID. Anonymity, a cloaked identity serves to reduce external constraints on status, bridge hierarchical distinctions which allows user participate equally. Communication proceeding from personal experience, objective reality,and good intention. In recent years, several public affairs like "best way to mourn victims" "flaunting wealth" "national crackdown on child abductions" initiate unprecedented attention and discussion. Several

Participates of political participation through microblog

1. Government microblog. It is the internet uses who represent the government. Holders of government microblog including NPC (national people's congress), CPPCC. At the end of 2011.there are 32thousand government microblogs authenticated by 4 mainstream websites.(Chuanyu Hua 2011) government miroblog have the features as authority, high credibility, high social responsibility.

The following charts shows the ranking of government miroblog's social influence

Ranking of government miroblog's followers (top 5)

(Until November 11,2012)



Social influence



chengdu issue


Information office of people's government in chengdu


"attack against sinister gangs"


Ministry of public security


Safe Bejing


Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau


Safe Guangdong


Guangdong Municipal Public Security Bureau


Informed diplomacy


Public Diplomacy Office of the MFA

According to the charts we can find that safety issues and daily life issues are most concerned by internet users.

2.Officials microblog. It is used by internet users who are officials and civil servant in real life. At the end of 2011.there are 18thousand government official's microblogs authenticated by 4 mainstream websites.(Chuanyu Hua 2011).official's microblog can be used as a platform to obtain public opinions, discuss bill, communicate with grassroots and cultivate populist image. However, contradiction still existing in the identity of is hard to transfer from professional identity and civic identity. Some personal opinions may be interpreted as official attitude.

3. Elite microblog elites are who from all walks of life, they have high profile and influence. but most of them are focus on entertainment, literature and,elite's microblogs are not concerned closely on political.

4. Opinion leader and public intellectuals' microblog

Most of them are sociologists, politicians, writers and journalists. This people are sensitive about social movement and political reform as well as make valuable comments on the development of economic and politics. On the other hand, followed by millions followers, public intellectual's comments, suggestions and values, may effective influence social consensus.

5. Grassroots' microblog

Grassroots are main participates of the microblog. They are the followers of opinion leaders and also making use of the microblog as virtual venue to discuss with public intellectuals. Even some of comments may influence decision making of public affairs.

Issues classification of Online political participation

1. The society supervises on corruption and power abuse

Corruption and power abuse issues are highly concerned in China. nomatter autonym or anonymity impeach could be suppressed by some illegal means. Clientelism or business-government collusion overflowing to entity political system of China. microblog serves as a breakthrough for the political supervision and political participation. Even though there is a limitation of 140 words, however, with photos and videos. Microblog become more intuitive and real. "microblogging" is also a new means to spread information on the internet. Several "illegal violence demolitions" cases (property developers use illegal approaches to grab land from general public) were exposed through microblogging by some journalists. All the public voices come from the responders of microblogging cluster together forms the formidable public opinion pressure to relevant functional departments.

2. Concerning about social inequality

Cases such as "wounds of the school bus"---concerning school bus's quality,

" poison milk powder:---concerning to promote dairy industry to improve safety

3. Defensing for civil rights.

Civil rights including: vulnerable persons, homeowners, Forced relocation, hepatitis-B carriers and diabetes patients, consumer rights, human right and other issues of urban middle-class concern)(yang guobin 56)

4. Expose muckraking

Cases such as the "Guomeimie issues"---flaunt wealth by children of power and rich

"My father is LiGang"-----a boy bump people and escape

5. Popular nationalism

Wenchuan earthquake, diaoyu island,Chinese shows highly nationalism.

Case introduction

Against PX project in zhenhai,Ningbo2012(ZhenHai is one of county in Ningbo)

PX is the short for p-xylene, which is a toxic chemical. Zhenhai artifice integration project was found by Sinopec and Zhejiang provincial people's government intend to produce project was met with opposition which came from the residents in ZhenHai .At the beginning of October 2012, some residents went to district government to petition for their environmental concerns, but the district government did not solve the problem and claimed the project was reach the environmental protection standard.

And during October, Several Elite microblog and public intellectuals microblog holder expressed their support for the resistance movement.

Yaochen(famous actress in China)

"Ningbo,a beautiful city, please cherish it"

And the responders of this tweet were 6thousands

In this case ,microblog were also used as way to refute rumor

Li yuan(chief editor of the Chinese Version in Wall Street Journal)

She forwarded tweet to rumor the information about "the private cars in ZhenHai are not permitted to enter LingBo"

In October 26 and 28, presidents were gathered through microblog to march together to against the PX projects.

In October 28,

Ningbo government announced to suspend the PX projects

After that announcement, ZuoYeBen(one of the most famous opinion leaders on microblog in China) published


The number of retweeted were 12831 and responders are 2000

The performance and function of microblog in this case

Offer discussion space

Fully display the progress

Push forward problem solving

Formation pressure of public opinion

1. Fully display the progress

Real, in time and comprehensive reporting the progress of the petition and the attitude of the residents and government officials. because except the residents in ZhenHai, all the other followers or resisters of the project can only understand the situation through microblog for the limitation of traditional media.

2. Offer discussion space

Keeping updates the progress of boycott offers more information for the public outside ZhenHai and more discuss materials. Discussers on behalf of different fields including sociology, politics, economics that can analyses the case in different aspects. Such as profit margin for refiners, government and stakeholders, what kind of insider trading exist in this project? If the project is put into effect, what the consequence of this would be.

Microblog communication and political participation has the nature of infinite both in information capacity and information links Which the traditional media and political participation not gain (,2012)

3. Form pressure of public opinion

Without severe "gatekeeper" in the microblog system, pubic can express their expressions and opinions more freedom compared with traditional media. But for limitation of word limit, most comments and opinions remain on catharsis. The interaction with traditional media push the pressure form public opinion more rational "People's Daily Online" published an article point out "'Against PX project' is the consequence of government ignored the people's right to know about public information,to express and to participate in policy decision-making".the cooperation between microblog and traditional media pose a big pressure on related government departments and stakeholders in the case

4. Push forward problem solving

In the end, PX project was suspended by discussing the feasibility at the municipal level.

The success of against PX project is victory of human rights in China as well as take the advantage of microblog's impact.

The challenge for political participation with the social networking

The "PX issues" represents the political participation process through microblog. Compared with traditional means, it has some distinct characteristics: non-institution political participation, pluralistic participation of the masses and masses have "strong" participation taking advantages of all this characteristics, micorblog can have positive effects on political participation in three aspects as follows:

1. Broadened the range of participation

In general, the higher the proportion of political participation, the more democratic in the country. Due to the economic and technology limitation, there is no country realizes national political participation. Even the president in America is elected indirectly. Anonymity makes masses silent no more as well as express opinions less inhibition. Easily to sign up, high efficiency and large user base make masses likely to obtain political information .

2. Expanded the depth of participation

"talents exist in the Internet in China"

Idea collision message exchange frequently updated information

A more comprehensive understanding

Knowing public interest

3. Enriched the forms of participation

The current democratic system in China is based on "national people's congress system, mutli-party political consultation system and regional autonomy for national minorities system

Types of political participation through microblog

1.officials acquire the information about political appeal from microblog


The evolution of China's internet control regime

The PX issues also reflect the strict internet control policy in China. Until November 13,2012, if you search the information about NingBo PX issues , "in accordance with the relevant laws, regulations and policies, the search results could not be displayed, said the response on's microblog.

The totality of the institutions and practices of Internet control constitutes and Internet-control regime. Reflecting the fluid and multifaceted nature of the internet.

Three stages of evaluation may be identified. The first stage, from 1994 to 1999, focused on the regulation of network security, Internet service provision and institutional restructuring. The second stage, from 2000 to 2002, was characterized by the expansion and refinement of internet control. The main development was the strengthening of content regulations targeting both internet content providers(ICPs) and individuals consumers. The third phase, from 2003 to the present, marks the expansion of internet regulation and control from government to governance and govenrmentality. (Yang.Guobin, 2009:47-48)

The ministry of information industry issued a regulation for managing internet bulletin-board services on October 8,2000.( Yang.Guobin, 2009:47-48

Sometimes, Web owners temporarily shut down a forum to prevent it from becoming a site of protest. When authorities consider the violations serious, they may close the Web sites permanently and arrest and prosecute individual violators.

Socialism with characteristic.


Administration policy implementation

Sphere of legitimate controversy

CCP ideology

Sphere of consensus

Human rights, violent eruptions of frustration, ethnic problems,etc

Sphere of unacceptable controversydf

The sphere of consensus, legitimate controversy and unacceptable (xiaoling Zhang,2011:140)