China Beat Archive





Date of this Version


Document Type



August 16, 2009 in The China Beat


Copyright August 16, 2009. Used by permission.


There are several recent pieces on China’s internet controls that are worth reading if you haven’t already looked at them. First, “How China Polices the Internet” atFinancial Times, gives an interesting account of what David Bandurski has called China’s “Control 2.0,” an increasingly adept deployment of online discourse on behalf (rather than at the expense) of the government. After vigorous online debate emerged over a Yunanese man’s suspicious death while in police custody, officials did not just cut off discussion:

Wu Hao, deputy propaganda chief for the area, put out an online appeal for “netizens” to help investigate the case. Within hours, thousands had signed up. Wu picked a group of 15, among them some of the bloggers who had been most vocal in attacking the police’s behaviour and in fuelling the debate. He invited them to tour the Jinning detention facility and be briefed by the wardens. State media outlets ran stories about the bloggers entering through the heavy metal door that had banged shut behind Li three weeks earlier.

And while the blogger investigation committee couldn’t do much real investigating – its members were refused access to surveillance camera footage and to key witnesses – the stunt proved a coup for Wu. The bloggers released a report concluding that they knew too little to give a proper assessment of what had happened, while provincial prosecutors announced that Li had not died from playing blind man’s bluff but had been beaten to death by another prisoner. Soon, the debate died down.