The Power of the Internet in China: Citizen Activism Online

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The Power of the Internet in China: Citizen Activism Online
By Guobin Yang
Columbia University Press, 2009
320 pp. $29.50
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Despite formidable state control, Chinese netizens have used humor, music, videos, games, and nimble wordplay to create new forms of expression and association that are intrinsically democratic. Human rights activists can connect across borders, and communities that are formed online can become actors in the real world, especially when they concern themselves with areas in which the government has been more tolerant of citizen activism, such as public health and the environment. Whether these developments will lead to changes in the regime, provide a safety valve for the pressures besetting authoritarianism, or just create another channel for official propaganda remains up for debate. But Yang believes that they are part of a "long revolution" that is making Chinese society more open, egalitarian, and participatory.