China’s internet: A giant cage (via The Economist), dissidents in China say “freedom is knowing how big your cage is”

Fascinating piece on the Internet in China.

“The fastest growth in internet use is in China’s poorer, more rural provinces, partly because of a surge in users connecting via mobile devices, which now outnumber those connecting from computers. The internet is no longer confined to an urban, educated and relatively well-off public. Most farmers are getting online to listen to music, play mobile games and check the weather, not blog dissent. But even casual users can be drawn into political debates online, and the internet is one place where people can speak their minds and criticise the government relatively freely…Small victories like this are becoming increasingly common, to the dismay of millions of Communist Party cadres. Many web users believe that the balance of power has shifted: in a survey conducted in 2010 by a magazine affiliated to the People’s Daily, the party mouthpiece, more than 70% of respondents agreed that local Chinese officials suffered from “internet terror”…Dissidents in China say that freedom is knowing how big your cage is. It could be argued that with their internet the Chinese authorities have built one of the world’s largest, best-appointed cages. It could equally be said that they have constructed an expensive, unwieldy monstrosity, a desperate grab for control to buy time for the party. Either way, a careful look at their edifice should throw light on the question whether the internet is an inherently democratising force. This special report will show how they built it and ask if it can last.

Image below via (and thanks to Global Street Art), the picture directly underneath that is via (thanks!)
internet cage global street art
economist internet penetration china
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