With what is quite likely the largest Internet censoring setup in the word, China isn’t exactly known for letting their citizens roam free online. It is by no means uncommon to hear reports of statements critiquing the Chinese government being pulled from forums and blogs. After facing global criticism following the intense online censorship of the Tibetan protests, it seems Chinese authorities may be (temporarily?) loosening their grip.
Following Monday’s 7.9 magnitude earthquake, which is already known to have killed at least 20,000, the information has been flowing in a way previously unseen in the region. For the first time in decades, local governments are being told to welcome and support journalists.
However, much of the information and commentary about the quake is coming not from professional journalists, but the citizens of China themselves. Be it by text, IM, or blog, communication — positive or not — about the quake has been flowing in almost completely uncensored, made possible by the widespread adoption of mobile phones. Sites like Fanfou (a Chinese SMS microblogging site not unlike Twitter), have been flooded with citizens commenting on the tragedy.
We’ll have to wait and see if censorship continues to lighten. With many eyes closely watching China following the Tibetan protests and the monumental controversy surrounding the 2008 Olympic Games being held in Beijing, authorities will likely take any opportunity to shine a positive light on the country and it’s government.