China right now: Li Gang’s son

I received some great comments on my post about Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiabou and how the Internet is changing China and may force her to liberalize politically. What follows is my recap of a great Financial Times article…

Li Gang is super poweful. He is the deputy police chief of Baoding, a Chinese city with a population of 1 million. When his son 22-year-old son Li Qiming hit and killed a student while allegedly driving drunk, he drove off yelling: “Make a report if you dare – my dad is Li Gang!”

But after those words made a tear across the blogosphere… cartoons were made, songs were composed… Li Qiming was arrested and his father was forced to bow and sob on national television.

One third of China is a web user, either at home, work or at internet cafes, which has made responding to public opinion a very high focus of the party.

Officials at all levels spend a great deal of time monitoring internet chatter; when something heats up too much they simply ask the site to take it down. Public officials will often then respond to the issue in their own online forums and blogs. As you probably know, China blocks many foreign websites including Facebook, Twitter, the New York Times which is how many Chinese were unaware that their own countryman had won a Nobel Prize…

Pulitzer prize-winning Nicholas Kristof wrote in the New York Times in 2005: “It’s the Chinese leadership itself that is digging the Communist party’s grave, by giving the Chinese people broadband.” I can’t help but hope Kristof is right.

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