China Beat Archive



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June 11, 2009 in The China Beat


Copyright June 11, 2009. Used by permission.


Berkshire Publishing has recently published its Encyclopedia of China with contributions by China scholars like Sherman Cochran, Kerry Brown, Judy Polumbaum and many others and featuring one thousand entries on a diverse range of historical, social and cultural topics.

A few of the entries caught our attention as a little unusual for a print encyclopedia—including entries on “internet use,” “online social networking,” and “blogging.” As these topics are of particular interest to us (and we’re guessing to many of you, too), we were curious how Berkshire would cover them in the encyclopedia format. Here are a few relevant excerpts (selected from much longer entries), reprinted with Berkshire’s permission.

Internet Use

Internet use if regulated and monitored by the government. Watchers scan website content for hot political issues, such as Falun Gong and the situation in Tibet, and content deemed socially unhealthy, such as pornography and violence. Web masters also monitor online discussions in chat rooms, a method of self-censoring. Generally speaking, Chinese Internet uses accept government intervention much more readily than users in Western countries would do. In CNIP surveys conducted in 2003, 2005, and 2007, more than 80 percent of respondents in China said that the Internet should be controlled (mainly on pornography and violence) and that they government should be the controlling agent.

Social Networking

China’s online youth are finding friendship and solace, as well as information and entertainment, in cyberspace. They are searching for others who can relate to their experiences and who may share their mind-set. Online social networking is also becoming functional and a way to adjust to real-world relationships. Online dating sites, such as and (or, are increasingly chosen for meeting potential marriage partners. Web portals, such as MSN, Skype, and QQ (which boasts more than 220 million users), are accessed by many merchants as customer-service and marketing tools to reach out to real-world customers…