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China: Party Congress Responds Positively to Age of Internet
Source: china.org.cn
Source Date: Saturday, November 10, 2012
Focus: Knowledge Management in Government, Institution and HR Management
Country: China
Created: Nov 13, 2012

The Internet has been unprecedentedly embedded into the ongoing National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

Not only can contents on the Internet be found in the congress report, but online media practitioners are attending the congress in person.

Shu Bin, general manager and chief editor of Rednet.cn, based in central China's Hunan Province, is one of two Internet media practitioners attending. The other is Liao Hong, president and chief editor of People.com.cn.

It is the first time that delegates from the Internet sector are attending.

Shu wrote on his microblog of Sina Weibo, "My life has been about the Internet during the past ten years. As an experienced netizen, I will record what I see and hear during the congress on the Internet."

He told Xinhua, "This is a new thing, but not unexpected. We represent 'you' in front of the computer." Shu expressed the belief that their participation showed the Party's will to listen to the public and how new media is displaying influence in the new age.

Shu recorded his thoughts before the opening of congress and had written 25 microblogs. Many netizens are expecting the delegates to share their words from the congress.

The congress report looks at areas such as reinforcing regulation on the Internet and building a modern communication system.

China has more than 500 million netizens with the Internet, becoming an economic engine as well as a platform for freedom of speech.

During the congress, both Party delegates and ordinary people can discuss hot topics on the Internet.

Technological progress has broadened the channels of democracy and raised people's awareness of their rights, while at the same time, brought new challenges to the ruling party.

The new media, including the Internet, are a challenge for the Party, as they are going to change many aspects of governing, which will bring the Party to a brand new age, said Liu Jingbei, director of China Executive Leadership Academy-Pudong in Shanghai.

Robert Lawrence Kuhn, an American expert on China issues and writer of "The Man Who Changed China: The Life and Legacy of Jiang Zemin," identified new social media participating in politics to be one of the biggest concerns among the new trends for the Party congress.

Some steps have been taken by the Chinese government after heated online discussions, which show the power of the Internet, he told Xinhua.

State media and local officials have started to use microblogs, online messengers and other Internet tools to express their views and communicate with the people.

Delegate Shen Haixiong with other delegates suggested including microblogs and other new media into the congress report.

Convenient and low-cost online supervision should be fully used by the Party under the complicated circumstances to reinforce its governance capability, Shen said.

On the other hand, pressure from the Internet is one of the ways of hearing from the public. For a party of more than 90 years old, there should be more channels to realize transparency.

"There is one thing that you can be sure of -- that is many Party officials are not as scared as before when talking about the Internet. Microblogs and other new media are growing into a special channel for people in and out of the Party," said Meng Jian, professor of Journalism School of Fudan University in Shanghai.
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