China Bloggers Surpass 30 Million

By Gao Shan, Radio Free Asia
November 15, 2006 Updated: November 15, 2006

A recent investigation revealed that more and more Chinese Internet users have their own blogs, and that the total number of bloggers in China has surpassed 30 million.

A blog is an increasingly popular format for online publishing. A blogger can conveniently build his personal Internet space with text, video, and images. According to a survey by the Chinese Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), the blog was first imported to China in 2002. At that time, the total number of bloggers was less than ten thousand. However, the number of blogs in China hit 34 million this August, increasing by thirty times in four years.

The survey shows that among these 34 million bloggers, 80 percent use the blog format as journals for their emotions and feelings, while 60 percent use it to express their opinions.

A political dissident in Beijing, Liu Xiaobo, says that forums, blogs, online journals, and Internet messaging all contribute to the expansion of community space for Internet users: “After all, a blog is non-governmental. At present, bloggers do not dare to touch sensitive political topics. But in other fields, the values and tastes expressed in blogs show a lot of diversity. A blog can be treated as a personal platform or even an informational tool.”

Liu believes that Internet media is more open and democratic than conventional forms of communication and more helpful for the development of Chinese society. “Another important impact of the blog is that those [blogs] visited the most move personal opinions into the realm of public debate, providing a forum for the public to weigh in with their own thoughts,” observes Liu.

Liu Xiaobo believes that Chinese citizens will naturally express their beliefs and cultural opinions through Internet forums and blogs. Through this media, he says, a democratic society is incubating in China and that in the future, forums and blogs will act as the main force behind the development of modern Chinese culture.

Liu Zhengyou, a human rights activist in Sichuan Province, says that because even the Internet is carefully monitored by the Chinese authorities, these blogs, which would otherwise be personal Internet space, become an efficient tool for communicating with the rest of the world.

“The government will often erase any online content related to the defense of human rights. What we can do now is to point out how peasants are treated poorly and comment on the cruelty of the government through overseas websites. This is beneficial for us since we finally have one place to reveal the unfair treatment we have endured. We will report the government's crimes immediately through the Internet,” says Liu.

Liu also says that although the blogger population is expanding tremendously throughout the country, the authorities' Internet screening continues to increase as well.

“The supervision of the Internet is extremely strict now. Many of my articles, including some from March and April of this year, have been detected and deleted by the government. There is no free voice allowed at all,” says Liu.