Mon, Dec 12, 2011 - Page 3 News List

2012 ELECTIONS: Chinese netizens praise democracy

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE:A US analyst said that some Chinese Internet users want Taiwan ‘to stay Chinese’ because it offers an example for China’s democratic future

By J. Michael Cole  /  Staff Reporter

The comments above, which appear to have become more common since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, could indicate that views toward Taiwan and its democracy have grown rapidly more pluralistic as social media have liberalized, the analyst said.

While it might be that some in China have always held this opinion and were merely censored before, the analyst said that opinion had discernibly grown as exposure to the facts and realities in Taiwan have increased.

The Chinese government, which maintains a tight grip on media, has allowed coverage of the presidential election to be discussed and covered on social media to an unprecedented, if not altogether complete, degree.

As of Friday night, Sina weibo, one of the most popular microblogging platforms in China, with more than 250 million registered users, had not blocked the search term “Taiwan Presidential Election.” This indicates that the terms are not on the platform’s list of blacklisted keywords, such as “human rights” and “Liu Xiaobo” (劉曉波).

Of course, the Chinese government could be acting strategically in the hope that an open approach will boost approval for Ma and soften Taiwanese impression of the Chinese government, the analyst said, adding that whether that tactic backfired and encouraged more Chinese to demand democracy appeared to be less of a concern for now.

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