The impact of the Internet on Chinese politics is a hot topic in contemporary academic debate. Some scholars believe that political discussions in cyberspace will lead to a more pluralistic and democratic China. Others argue that the ruling Communist Party will strengthen its position by using the Internet as a tool for censorship and active propaganda. The purpose of this article is to contribute to the debate on the political impact of increasing Internet use, by studying uncensored online opinions about the Communist Party and its policies. More specifically, we investigate and analyze some of the most popular and uncensored microblog tweets (Sina Weibo) that discussed political scandals in China during the Spring of 2012. The findings show that a majority of the tweets contains criticism against certain activities of the Party, but do not challenge its hold on power. The study indicates that the phenomenon of loyal dissent is a distinguishing feature of online political discourse in contemporary China. Consequently, the blogosphere has the potential to foster a generation of more critical Chinese citizens. However, in the current phase of overall information repression and censorship, and as a particular form of online expression, microblogging cannot yet be considered a catalyst for democratization.
|Tidskrift||Studies in Media and Communication|
|Status||Publicerad - 2013|