Voices and Votes: Web Political Participation

2010-03-03 20:33 BJT

Special Report: 2010 NPC & CPPCC Sessions |

On February the 27th, Premier Wen Jiabao went on line to answer questions about topical issues such as soaring housing prices and unemployment.

He said the nation's 400 million netizens represent a cross-section of society. He says listening to opinions using the Internet is a new way to gather advice.

This is not the first time the Chinese leadership has used the Internet to engage with people.

On June the 20th, 2008, President Hu Jintao held his first live chat. He told participants that different voices are being listened to across the country.

The Internet is making it easier for people to express their feelings and offer their opinions to the country's top leaders. On a major opinion site, the public can participate in political discussions, say what they consider right or wrong, and give suggestions.

At the same time, more and more Chinese are becoming Internet vigilantes against crime, corruption and social injustice.

One of the most celebrated cases of 2009 was "Duo Mao Mao", literally "eluding the cat," the Chinese term for "playing hide and seek."

In Yunnan Province, 24-year-old Li Qiaoming died in hospital from brain injuries incurred while in police custody. The official explanation was that "he hit the wall while eluding the cat."

The story provoked such online anger that local authorities invited ten netizens and three journalists to join an investigative committee.

Following the example of the top leadership, more and more local authorities are using the Internet to listen to public opinion, understand situations, and receive rational comments and suggestions.

At the end of 2009, the acting Mayor of Shenzhen, Wang Rong, asked the public for advice on the city's development over the next five years. Thousands of Internet users responded, making it one of the most popular official postings.

It's predicted that 2010 will see more enthusiastic political participation in cyberspace.

In what Pulitzer winner Thomas Friedman calls an increasingly flat world, the rise of the middle class and the Internet look set to change the social governance and the way of political participation here in China. The Beijing agenda or Beijing Consensus highlights the uniqueness of China's remarkable social progress. Challenges such as social security and medicare, the environment, soaring housing prices and widespread corruption in particular, all need supervision and criticism. A strong and inclusive government should have the political bravery to accept democratic oversight gracefully. This is one measure of a truly civil society. This is also the focus of a severe international scrutiny. And we welcome your scrutiny. Please log on to our survey and English. CCTV.com. Tomorrow, on Voices and Votes, we shall talk about the general public's top concerns for the two sessions, and forecast how and if they'll be addressed. So, stay tuned. I'm Yang Rui, thank you for watching, and see you the same time tomorrow.

Editor: Liu Anqi | Source: CCTV.com