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You know things are going wrong in Tibet and other Tibetan areas when CCTV tells you that Tibetans are living happily as never before, Global Times hits hard on “lawless Tibetans”, and Wumaos (五毛) are swarming Twitter accounts of Woeser and other sources of Tibetan news and spitting hate. On Weibo, there are loose items by travelers, local Chinese, or even one or two members of the armed police, about what they see and do. Otherwise they do a pretty good job making sure there isn’t much news. Click to see a set of pictures taken in Lhasa, Tibet,  on Jan. 31. In this issue we have items about the makeup of China’s new leadership, political reform or the absence of it, a reminiscence about […]


With the holidays I know that many of you have taken a break from the internet to spend time with your families, but the Chinese gov’t realizes this too, slipping 3 State subversion trials of dissidents into the final week of the year in the hopes that foreign media will miss the story (and one very mysterious broken probation). Due to the number of links this week, I’ve only added a few comments. China jails dissident 10 years for subversive essays Why isn’t the West reacting to China’s crackdown Draft law prohibits citizens who may endanger national interests from leaving country – This story has not been widely reported on outside of People’s Daily, but would essentially allow China to keep any dissidents from speaking out […]


My office’s usually chipper intern (the same one whose budget we looked at last week) surprised me on the way to lunch today when she told me she was in a bad mood. “Our society has too many problems everywhere,” she told me in English before launching into Chinese, she had seen an old woman pick food out of the garbage can on her way to work this morning. Later she told me of seeing a patient fight with a doctor over a medical bill that he couldn’t afford. The metro crash to her wasn’t so much a wake up call as it was a painful reminder of all the problems facing Chinese society. “In society, we are powerless to change,” she said loudly enough […]


If you aren’t familiar with the Great Firewall of China I would suggest reading this and this first. Several months ago Hillary Clinton described the efforts of the Chinese Communist Party to maintain their firm grasp on power as a “fool’s errand.” I think her succinct statement was right on target. The gov’t’s attempts to limit freedom of speech only seem to be accelerating the causes pushed by China’s activists. Today we’ll be looking at how the Great Firewall is likely to create more problems than it solves. First just a touch of history. Despite popular belief, the Great Wall as we know it (the brick one built after the Yuan dynasty), was built largely due to gov’t inaction. While the national gov’t bickered over whether or […]


After looking at the effects of Weibo on the Chinese justice system yesterday, I thought it was important to take a closer look. The Chinese Courts Until 1949 there was very little litigation in China. If someone wronged you, you would have to appear in front of the local leader. There you, and the person you accused were usually beaten  before your testimony would even be heard. The leader would then decide, based on anything from your moral character to the ugliness of your face which party deserved the punishment. That person would then be tortured until they confessed, and the common folk would marvel at the leader’s wisdom. This is paraphrased from the book “From the Soil” which I will be reviewing shortly. Not […]


People’s daily and other state news sources have been pointing to the influence of Weibo as a sign of China’s shift toward democracy (here and here), but is social media really creating a more just China? Note: Weibo is a Chinese networking site, something like a combination of Twitter, Facebook and a blog. It is also carefully monitored by gov’t censors (a.k.a. internet police) for stories on sensitive topics, and imposes keyword bans. One way that Weibo is contributing to the development of democracy in China, is that it has helped introduce the idea that the gov’t should actually listen to its people. Weibo has accomplished this largely because it has given common people a way of airing grievances in a public forum. In the past […]


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