Maura Cunningham, former editor of China – Beat – “Blogging How the East is Read”, is set to explore the pivotal role of digital media within Chinese society and politics along with the shifts and new methods of dissent happening within its platform.
Her speech will be delivered at the “Tiananmen at 25” symposium will be taking place in St Joseph’s University conference on June 4 this year, marking the anniversary of the incident. The event will be comprised of speeches from the word’s top experts on the massacre, a move to kick off the international remembrance of incident, under threat of disappearing off the face of history due to political backlash on commentators, internet censorship and lack of mention in school curriculums.
Cunningham points to the social-media as the new method of political dissent in the absence of public protests under the CCP regime. Trends noted relating to internet censorship include tighter controls over U.S or British websites including Twitter, YouTube and the New York Times.
She also notes the increasingly complex nature of the role of digital media in China as netizens discover new ways to avoid censorship detectors. New codes have emerged, leaving only the plebs scrambling around the Chinese internet for “June 4” while the savvy opt for “May 35th” instead, — a count of that month’s 31 days plus four in June, demonstrating the online solidarity enshrined in these codes of censorship avoidance.
Meanwhile, the government remains classically sneaky through both utilising the internet as a political tool to connect and spread its ideas to its people whilst carrying out “internet maintenance” to stamp out ‘subversive ideas’.
As to what is classified ‘subversive’ or acceptable? It remains ambiguous, with the line (probably purposely) continually shifting, leaving most to retreat to the sweet and harmless WeChat instead to voice their grievances instead.
By Mandy Liang
[Photo credit: philly.com]