Weibo and Tencent suspensions show government still in control of social media in China
Following the circulation of rumours regarding Bo Xilai’s downfall, government censorship has been swift and decisive with reports of up to six arrested and 16 websites closed. Despite reform and the Open Door policy adopted in China since 1978, a comprehensive mechanism of control and censorship on media, including the internet, continues.
There is no sign that anything close to a regime change is happening in China, but social media is beginning to play an interesting political role, sometimes influencing localised policy changes.But these changes can only be accomplished with the government’s backing, and its tolerance of the informal cooperation between ordinary citizens and established leaders. In this small way, social media is helping authorities to become more aware of problems in the community and giving some citizens more opportunity to start public debate.