Vietnam-China Relations

Vietnamese Protesters

Vietnamese Protesters

When the crisis between China and Vietnam started last May, some experts believe back then that the bilateral relations had been compromised. The crisis took back the Vietnam-China relations into a worst possible crisis since the 1979 border war. However in the recent events, Beijing and Vietnamese officials are now working into trying to strengthen their ties and forget the oilrig crisis. During the oilrig crisis there was a physical confrontation between Chinese and Vietnamese civilian law enforcement vessels. Such event incited violence in Vietnam wherein the people conducted anti-China riots, evacuation of Chinese workers from Vietnam, a decrease of Chinese people going to Vietnam and even the Vietnamese government threatening China to taking legal action in the international court.

Vietnamese foreign security officials attending conference in Beijing

Vietnamese foreign security officials attending conference in Beijing

In trying to repair its relations to Vietnam, Chinese officials had sent out special envoys and even opened up bilateral channels of communications among various governmental agencies that were greatly affected by the incident. The concerns of Vietnamese officials are appeasing the sentiments of its citizens and the prevention of damaging bilateral relations. During the visit of State Councilor Yang Jiechi to Hanoi, the media focused on the remarks about the territorial disputes in South China Sea. Such remarks symbolize how China would want to prevent the possibility of worsening the dispute against other countries. In fact Yang’s visit is a signal that China would want to maintain its relations among countries involved in the dispute. There was also a confidential behind-the-scenes discussion by representatives of Chinese and Vietnamese communist parties.

At the time wherein the 13 member high level Vietnamese military delegation visited Beijing last October 16, Chinese and Vietnamese media reported greater details on the substance of the exchanges. Such coverage could be an effect of the peaceful atmosphere in the bilateral meetings. Vietnam and China used past diplomatic solutions in repairing their strained relationship. In the coverage of the media, it emphasized on the remarks of Lt. Gen Fan Changlong, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission, who said that China has always been friendly and cooperative towards Vietnam. Unlike South Korea who just merely dismissed calls of Vietnam comfort women activists to obtain an apology from their government, China has in fact showed its efforts in trying to repair its relations with Vietnam.

Images by BasPhoto and talkVietnam

Discussion of Chinese human rights

Activist can freely criticize the government about human rights

Activist can freely criticize the government about human rights

The understanding of Chinese political communication has been challenging for some. In the application of        Chinese political communication to the case of the discussion of Chinese discourse of human rights, it has been widely influenced by history. Historically, the Chinese have never had the concept of human rights until 1948. They have never interacted with Western countries and it was a strategic call in order to preserve their own culture. They wanted to avoid unnecessary influences that may harm the preservation of culture. They developed a strong sense of nationalism among its people and they have succeeded in doing such thing. However they were forced to open up their country to other nations in 1978 due to globalization. In here the discourse of China human rights became the focus of the nation. It rapidly developed in terms of the way of discourse.

Human rights discussion used to be limited to politicians

Human rights discussion used to be limited to politicians

Discourse on China human rights used to be discussed only by experts on politics and philosophy. The discussion rarely added value in the political discourse. In modern Chinese political communication, the discourse of human rights became multifaceted and a lot more. The transformation was due to the increased number and kinds of speakers and even audience. It improved in numbers due to the reinforced opposition to the cultural repression.

Moreover the change in the political discussion of China human rights has been a way of criticizing China’s past experience. There has been a necessity to balance the past Chinese norm and even the contemporary approach to human rights. Such balancing provided more depth in the concept of China human rights. However it is necessary to point out how Chinese discourse of human rights has been dependent to their culture. It is inherent to Chinese to criticize their Western counterpart. Thus in the political discussion of human rights, it became a response to the American-West-centric discourse.

Images by beyondbrics and Xinhua

Extent of Internet Censorship

Chinese Internet users do not have access to famous sites such as Google

Chinese Internet users do not have access to famous sites such as Google

Surfing the Internet in China is known to be unique all over the world. The information found in the “national World Wide Web” greatly differs from other democratic states. Due to China being a socialist state, the Internet content is highly regulated. It is in fact deemed by some to be the “great firewall of China” wherein it does not allow users from the People’s Republic to gain access on contents that the government deems as sensitive. Events like the protest happening in Tibet or when students were prohibited to conduct protest in Tian’anmen Square in June 1989. The government has the control over the content that should pass their standards. The primary factor that they consider on whatever posts to be put up in the Internet is the absence of criticism or attacks towards the government.

Chinese government constantly observe contents uploaded in the Internet

Chinese government constantly observe contents uploaded in the Internet

 

Another factor that they consider in the censorship of content is that the site should not be influenced by Western culture. Thus sites that are made in the West such as Facebook, Youtube and Twitter have been unavailable in the region. However some Chinese users still gain access through bypassing the system put up by the government. Despite some users gaining access to such site, the government still has a thorough censorship of various contents in the Internet. In fact the central government has employed more than fifty thousand online police officers to monitor the activities of the users. They actually observe online activities for 24 hours. Such content control agents do moderation of online content through influencing contents found on various threads on most popular bulleting boards (BBS). There are claims wherein users posting positive commentary on BBS receive payment from the government for about 50 cents a post. They have been called as the “Fifty Cent Party”. The rapid increase of users post a great challenge for the authorities on regulating online content.

Images by Daxue and China Law & Policy

State Journalist got censored

Hong Kong protest have gained critics from the  mainland

Hong Kong protesters have gained critics from the mainland

The on going protest happening in Hong Kong made a sharp-tongued columnist rant about the oppressive Chinese government. The columnist is known to be writing for a small Communist Party newspaper in Central China. He posted his opinion in the Twitter clone social media platform, Weibo last November 15. The posting made Chinese netizens to react swiftly towards such rant posted by the writer. It escalated into an online spat between Weibo users and in fact portrayed the growing nationalist voices in the Chinese Internet sphere.

Some Chinese journalist support the cause of Hong Kong protesters

Some Chinese journalist support the cause of Hong Kong protesters

Chinese online content police immediately erased  the posting and even the columnist himself retracted his archive of Weibo posts. He has been known to be constantly criticizing the Communist Party. Majority of the posts that he has erased were about the inability of the government to improve its relations with the Hong Kong protesters. He has also been posting his unsatisfaction with the Communist Party particularly its Chairman, Mao Zedong and even the state media of course except his own employer. Despite the fact that he has deleted his multiple controversial opinions, it can still be seen in various websites in the Internet such as FreeWeibo.com and bulletin boards. Users of the mentioned sites have been reconstructing the various opinions made by the journalist. It all started when Ning Fanggang, a doctor in the burn unit of a Beijing hospital made a post about the inability of people in Hong Kong to gain rights because they are under the rule of the central Chinese government. Such opinion is not new to the issue of Hong Kong wanting democracy. In fact most people from the mainland have been angry over the actions of the Hong Kong protesters. This made Wang Yaofeng reply with “Your mother’s dog farts — this is what’s called regional autonomy. Do you get it or not? A student of medicine with no common knowledge of political science should fart less.”

Images by Paula Bronstein and CNN

Forums for Political Debate

Chinese users  have a hard time looking for a site to share their political views

Chinese users have a hard time looking for a site to share their political views

People outside China usually has a misconception towards the inability of the Internet sites in China to provide a platform wherein people could engage in a debate. The creation of Internet forum Qiangguo luntan during 1999 was the symbolic start of a new digital era. The famous Internet forum was regulated by the state owned People’s Daily. The popularity of Internet forum became the grounds for some anonymous users to post their arguments on a particular political debate. Users now have an alternative on obtaining their information or arguments besides the official news agencies. Although the credibility of the site is sometimes questionable, users prefer such platform in engaging political discussion.

Riots in Xinjiang made the government decide to remove Fanfou

Riots in Xinjiang made the government decide to remove Fanfou

In August 2009, a “miniblog” with the same resemblance to Twitter was created. The site, sina.com.cn, has been known to be the third largest commercial web portal in China. Members of such mini blog could comment on various topics. As what everyone knows Chinese users could not gain access to Twitter since June 2009. Despite the creation of a similar site to Twitter, which is Fanfou, it was still banned by Beijing officials. It was been removed from the Internet because of the unrest happening in Xinjiang. Authorities claim that demonstrations have already been difficult to handle. Kaixin, which is the Chinese equivalent for Facebook, could also be a platform for Chinese users to engage in various debates however the content police is still monitoring it. Majority of the activities of subscribers of Kaixin are focused on entertainment and communication unlike in Facebook wherein some users uses such sites to forward their political views.

Alternatives for Chinese users who would want to engage in a political debate are the bulleting boards (BBS). It is in fact a good source of criticism. It will surprise observers due to sharp criticism towards the government and the constant exposure of corruption practices of the Chinese officials.

Images by World Media and AFP

Increasing importance of blogs

Blogging has been important platform to criticize the government

Blogging has been important platform to criticize the government

The proliferation of news sharing in various blogs has been helpful towards making Chinese citizens informed. However there have been claims wherein newspapers is still the most important source of information. The availability of such sources to Chinese citizens plays a role on increasing their knowledge. The role of online media is still at its early forms. It has just begun playing an important role in Chinese politics in 2003. Daily newspapers in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou have constantly criticizing the Chinese government since the 1980s. Newspapers have been publishing extensive analysis of the different actions done by the government.

Various political blog sites have been active since 2006

Various political blog sites have been active since 2006

Blogging has gained its popularity in China last 2006. Bloggers have increased to 16 million, which is 32 times the number of blogs in early 2005. Just like newspapers, blogs also publish criticisms towards government officials and their various policies. The difference of blog from newspapers is the ability of writers to voice out their criticisms without the pressure of a publisher dictating the content. Bloggers does not have any incentive to prioritize the welfare of the media agency. They do not depend upon the direction that the company dictates them to write about. In fact bloggers have the ability to write about anything and also publish their posts whenever they want.

It is interesting for readers to see such articles because majority of bloggers publish controversial claims against the government. Such sites are not immune from the potential backlash of the government. The blog could still go down however the creators could just easily put up another site and publish again. Newspapers do not have the luxury to anger the government that much because of the fear of them getting close down or possibly journalists getting fired for writing controversial articles. In the end, the ability to read out various opinions by Chinese citizens is greatly needed in today’s political landscape.

 

Images by Political System and Elizabeth Dalziel

Impact of Political Blogs

Chinese officials conducting online chats to answer questions about the government

Chinese officials conducting online chats to answer questions about the government

Chinese government officials recognize the value of allowing political debates to take place in the Internet. Despite the limitations of the government in the usage of the Internet, it has been a place wherein different conception of values such as industrialization, urbanization and liberalization developed. The Party knows the importance of allowing public opinion to continuously be published in various websites. Thus, the Party has been working on trying to also include forums on the websites of the provincial, municipal and central government.

Chinese officials has been widely criticize for its censorship

Chinese officials has been widely criticize for its censorship

In the past, Chinese officials created a program wherein Internet users were given the opportunity to speak directly to the head of the state at the time, Hu Jintao. Users sent our inquiries in advanced and then the government chose most of the topics being talked about by the writers. Then such topics were discussed in a real-time online chat room. It has attracted so many viewers that it crashed the web site. Hu Jintao talked about how it was important to address various comments and suggestions regarding Party business. Such comments allow officials to formulate government policies. This move was claimed to be a strategic move of the Party to maintain its influence over the Internet community. It was a way of appeasing the users to decrease the animosity against the government and make them feel how their views are important to the officials.

Despite claims of the Internet not influencing the decision making of the central government, there has been one significant event that had an impact in the political decisions. During the announcement of the pre-installed filter software in summer 2009, Chinese bloggers immediately counter against such policy. The software, which was called the Green Dam Youth, was said to protect children and young people from international criticism. Due to the magnitude of the protest, the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Technology abandoned such plans. This shows the importance of online sites in voicing out your views in various policies.

Images by Pang Xinglei and Andy Wong

Content of Blog Sites

Blog sites has been a continuous source of criticism of the government

Blog sites has been a continuous source of criticism of the government

 

Due to the increasing popularity of online blogging in China, there have been a lot of web sites created to serve the demand for it. Blogging has been a significant platform for writers to freely criticize the Chinese government. Majority of writers prefer blogging due to the inability of the Chinese officials to shut them off and even get their opinions straight to the readers. The ability of blog sites to post immediately criticisms has been the reason why readers are hooked to read such thing. Although there are some newspapers publishing opinion articles about government policies, readers are getting comfortable in obtaining such knowledge in blog sites because of the exclusive content it provides.

Readers have been greatly interested in viewing political blog sites

Readers have been greatly interested in viewing political blog sites

There have been various studies observing the amount of readers that blogs and newspapers gain. The factors investigated by the studies are the levels of criticism, pluralism and propaganda for each type of media. The reason why pluralism and criticism has been observed due to its ability to gauge the level of freedom to consider political issues through debate or criticism of government institutions. Meanwhile, propaganda allows the readers to gain insight into the ability of the state to set out agenda in the parliament.

In the results, blogs have more articles that are categorized as criticism. Majority of the blogs contain some form of criticism. In comparison to newspapers, 61% of blog postings have opinions that points out the insufficiency of the parliament. About 19% of the blogs containing criticisms are focusing on the central level of government in comparison to less than 4% of newspapers. Such statistic is surprising because newspapers do not publish any criticisms to central leaders. However there have been two articles in newspapers wherein it implicitly criticizes Mao Zedong. The ability of blogs to be able to capture this various forms of criticism has played a significant impact to readers.

Images by China Internet Watch and Foreign Policy

Government using Internet to gain influence

Chinese officials have been working on appeasing Internet users

Chinese officials have been working on appeasing Internet users

Chinese official has been using the Internet to gain support from the citizens. Despite the fact that some Chinese Internet users believe they have some sort of freedom from the government, officials has been using the platform to forward their political agenda. The increase of Internet users in China initiated the start of the “digital revolution”. The upside of immediately publishing an article and interact with millions of people has been revolutionary. Majority focuses on their ability to criticize openly the government. At the same time for the Party, it has been a significant tool for propaganda especially on state controlled media, which are primarily found in Beijing. The increase on contents containing criticisms allowed for the Chinese officials to pick up the various irreconcilable contradictions.

internet_cafe_china

The Internet in China has been a platform of different concerns of citizens and even extended into a way of protesting against the repressive policies implemented by the government. Unfortunately, the impact of such protest has not been significantly felt. In fact it reaffirmed the power of the Party further because of the ability of the government to easily dismiss such complaints. Beijing officials do this through conducting online chat sessions and even hiring some Internet users to post positive commentary. They have been clever in terms of trying to remove “offensive” content through establishing a positive characterization of the government. This endangers the ability of political discourse to take place because of the inability of some users to match the commentary provided by such officials. It is important for the government to remove them from such censorship because it would not allow citizens to freely express what they want to say. The positive commentary contributes to making a particular contested issue to be discussed extensively. Such practice will not allow some users to have an in depth knowledge of the issue in the point of view of other people.

Images by Jason Lee and CNME

Confucianism: Affecting Political Communications in China for Millennia

For over two thousand years, Chinese history has been filled with bloodshed, wars, and some inhuman violence. Chinese Dynasties have been changed from one to another, as emperors tried to outlast each other in order to get the power that they desire. But behind all these negatives, it can still be said that the Chinese political system has remained stable and enduring throughout the years.

A logical reason for this as accepted by many is the idea of Confucianism that political leaders in China continuously embrace up to now. In simple context, Confucianism has been the dominant source of Chinese political thinking.

Confucius

Confucius

Confucianism is the way of life that was propagated by the legendary Confucius. This ideology has been followed by the Chinese for over two millennia already and has transformed over time. The influence of Confucianism was not limited to China; actually, its influence has been extended to other Asian countries such as Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. Unfortunately in Korea, the idea of Confucianism has not been maintained as evident in the issue of Korean Comfort Women.

The idea of Confucianism has truly affected the peaceful political system and communication in China. Ideas of Confucianism such as social hierarchy, family authority, and emphasis on public rituals and morality of individuals have become operative principles of Chinese political practices, causing success for thousands of years.

Although the idea of Confucianism is considered to be traditional and rhetorical, no one can deny that it is still practiced until now.

The ultimate political goal of Confucius was to achieve moral idealism of the rulers and individuals, which in turn would contribute to an orderly and civilized society. For Confucius, an orderly and harmonious society can be achieved and maintained by two important values and practices- ren and li. Ren consists of values such as humaneness, goodness, kindness, benevolence, virtue, and love for fellow men. On the other hand, Li focuses on rites, customs, ceremony, ritual, rules of propriety, decorum.

Perhaps the best way to prove that Confucianism is indeed practiced up to this day is the mere fact that current President Xi Jinping endorsed the promotion of Confucius and Confucianism.

President Xi Jinping

President Xi Jinping

Images from SCMP and Confucius Institute