Bill Dodson

Prime-minister Wen Jiabao claimed an 11-day illness to explain why it took him so long to pay respect to the victims of the Wenzhou train crash. But always vigilant internet users noted Wen a day after the crash on official business, notes author Bill Dodson, who analyzes on his weblog the credibility crisis for the communist party.

The sophistication of Chinese users in the use of digital communications technology has matured beyond the online petitions that marked the melamine poisoning disaster, just after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, when milk laced with a cousin of plastic was fatal to a dozen children in China and harmed scores more.

This time really is different, with Weibo tweets and blogs and editors of online newspapers combining their efforts to make a concerted attack on the high-handedness and opacity with which the CPC has been operating for decades. Now, though, the “trust me I know what I’m doing and you’re just along for the ride” arrogance of the Party has worn thin as even the man on the street seems to be questioning whether China’s infrastructure development pace is too fast.

In China Inside Out: 10 Irreversible Trends Reshaping China and its Relationship with the World, Chapter 1, I write extensively about the use of the internet in China to flush out abuse of power in the government. This time, though, government censors seem to be on the side of the citizens. Chinese users are still criticizing, tweeting, blogging and investigating with abandon.

More at Bill Dodson’s weblog

Bill Dodson is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch.

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