Islamabad, Sep 22: A government-backed campaign in China to assert greater control over social media has chilled political discourse in the country, with increased self-censorship by some of the country’s most influential bloggers.
According to The Daily Times, Chinese microblogs similar to Twitter have become key drivers of public opinion in recent years, with bloggers drawing attention to official corruption, pollution and other issues that challenge China’s ruling Communist party.
However, in recent months influential government critics have been paraded on state television, pledging to avoid posts that could create a ‘negative’ social influence, while hundreds have been detained for spreading ‘rumours’ online, the report said.
The rising influence of microblogs has been accompanied by the emergence of celebrity users with verified accounts, known as ‘Big Vs’.
Tensions increased with the August arrest of Chinese-American investor Charles Xue, who gathered more than 12 million followers to his microblog with a steady drumbeat of criticism aimed at China’s government, on charges of soliciting prostitutes, the report added.
A Beijing based Internet analyst said that it has made people nervous, while a movie actor said that he was now more careful when posting about any kind of topic.
The campaign appears to be part of a concerted effort by China’s new leadership under President Xi Jinping to re-assert control over all forms of the media, the report further said.
Xi last month called on propaganda officials to ‘build a strong army to seize the ground of new media’, while China’s press regulator has ordered journalists to undergo ‘Marxist’ training classes, according to the report. (ANI)