The BBC has a story out that more than 2 million people work for the Chinese government to monitor web activity. (China employs two million microblog monitors state media say)
The odd part is that this report came from state-run media.
The story in The Beijing News describes the monitors as internet opinion analysts.
The fact that Beijing has used all tools at its disposal to censor the Internet is no surprise. What was surprising in this case was that the ruling party actually admitted it has so many people on the government payroll to try to control what people say and can see on the Internet. (And no, this is not a new “charm offensive” to show “openness.” It is just offensive.)
I guess that with the Chinese economy slowing down, Beijing needed to make sure there was plenty of work available so they can maintain social stability.
This story comes after the rulers started a major move to stop “rumors” from popping up on the Internet, including jail time.
The leadership also show their devotion to the old ways of Mao and the Cultural Revolution, rather than to anything related to a modern society.
I recent statements the party leadership call for a “public opinion struggle” to get control of what people are saying and seeing on the Internet.
The reversion to the Cultural Revolution term — “struggle” — sent a shudder down the spines of many in and out of China. (The word “struggle” creeps people out)
This idea of a “public opinion struggle” fills people with dread. This high-spirited “struggle” [the first character of the two-character combination for “struggle”] is full of violence and viciousness, making people think of the bloody “struggle sessions” [under Mao Zedong’s rule], of bitter life-and-death “combat”, of the ridiculous struggle against the roots of ideas in oneself, and even of the idea of “class struggle” that fills everyone with bitter memories. Words like “struggle” were basically tossed out of our political dictionary after the start of economic reforms in China. People gradually forgot these revolutionary-era terms. So to use “public opinion struggle” to describe the contesting of ideas today is a blast from the past.
If anything, the latest pronouncements out of Beijing should remind people that no matter what the rest of the world things are the meanings of such words as democracy and freedom — the ruling party in Beijing has its own meanings.
And none of those meanings has anything to do with freely electing the government leaders or with freedom of speech/press/assembly.