Online angry youth, petty bourgeois and biz people
(The Asia Week/ESWN)
Updated: 2006-01-16 08:50
CCTV Economic Channel producer Hu Yong has been called an "Internet pioneer"
on mainland China. Hu Yong said: "Concerning the Internet in China, there are
usually two popular views in the west. One of them consists of unreasonable
optimism, for the belief is that western thoughts and ideas, commercial forces
or technological advances will cause rapid changes in China. The other consists
of blind pessimism, for the belief is that China has not changed under a
totalitarian regime which prevents the people from having any freedom of speech.
Both these views are wrong, and they merely expose the naivety of westerners."
Hu Yong is the author of the "Ruling the Internet", the first book about the
Internet on the mainland China.
thinks that the development of the Internet in China is complicated. Hu Yong
said: "This is not say that people outside of China have no right to talk about
China. But outsiders do not usually have the keen insight as those who are
inside. But the insiders and outsiders need to interact frequently and argue
with each other. The matter of Chinese bloggers should be examined through such
Pictures from the
Web log of a self-described Communist Party member from Shanghai who goes
by the pseudonym Mu Mu. One expert says China's new bloggers talk back to
authority, "but in a humorous way."
Hu Yong believes that the Chinese bloggers can be classified into three
types: angry youth, petty bourgeois and commercial bloggers. He admits that this
classification is not rigorous, but it is convenient for clarifying the problem.
Angry youth are the angry young people on
the Internet. He said: "Actually, the definition of 'angry youth' is very broad
and complicated. I believe that 'angry youth' refers to young urban
intellectuals with a sense of social justice. The 'angry youth' knows how to be
angry, they have certain knowledge and they are just not young people who only
know how to release their emotions and pick fights for no apparent reason. These
other people may exist, but they are definitely not mainstream." For example,
when an elementary school in Shalan (Heilongjiang) was overrun by a flash flood
that caused the deaths of more than one hundred school children, the government
ordered the media to stop news coverage. A reporter at Southern Weekend wrote a
report that was suppressed, so he posted it through an Internet blog to point
out that the Shalan incident occurred due to negligence by local officials who
attempted to cover up with lies afterwards.
Mu Zimei, 25, who
writes about sex, became a sensation across China with her accounts of her
numerous sexual experiences, until the government intervened. "I think my
private life is very interesting," she said. [File
Hu Yong said that according to research studies, the Chinese netizens are
more interested that those in other countries to discuss political, military and
social problems. Compared to traditional media, the Internet is a better outlet
for expressing views on those types of topics.
Under the current political climate in
China, the Internet-based platforms contain mostly viewpoints about foreign
relations, the Taiwan issue and the protection of the weaker social groups.
The revealing "S
figure" of Sister Furong dressed in red
For the "angry youth" bloggers, the good thing is that it opens up new vistas
for political participation in Chinese society but the bad thing is that there
is a huge amount of puerile and extreme ideas.
As for the petty bourgeois bloggers, Hu Yong said that there are many white
collar urban youths who have certain economic means with which to pursue
material and spiritual enjoyment.
This is a manifestation of the progress of China. Without the diversity in
society and an urban consumerist culture, such a group could not have emerged.
Hu Yong believes that many of the values that have long been cherished by the
Chinese are being lost, for those ideals are scorned at by the petty bourgeois.
The petty bourgeois are more interested in fashion and lifestyle, whereas the
angry youth are interested in speech and thought. These characterizations are
not absolute, as both the angry youth and petty bourgeois can easily change.
"Muzimei was probably the first famous blogger in China, followed by
Zhuyingqingtung, Furong Jiejie, Liumangyan, Juhua Jiejie and others. The petty
bourgeois bloggers have developed to a stage in which they have the value such
that they are testing the limits of tolerance of society with respect to their
The third type is the commercial blogger. Certain big websites have received
venture capital investment. One or two even intend to have public offerings in
2008. The commercialization of blogger is a hard-to-stop trend. The commercial
bloggers must try to get the angry youth and petty bourgeois bloggers on their