Thursday, August 03, 2006

Everyone's a blogger...

From Asia Times Online:
The People's Daily reported that China's first "police blog", launched last year by Hebei province's Public Security Bureau, is even more popular than the blogs of many pop stars.

The founder, Hao Chao, is a policeman and is proud of introducing something new, initially to the media and now to the public, in an effort to showcase the hardships that police face and difficulties they experience at work. The police blog was an overnight hit, claiming more than a million visitors in its first two months.

Internet visitors approve of the project, saying it has helped them learn more about the police, their work and lives. They say they have learned that police officers are ordinary people who need understanding, support and communication, according to the People's Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party.

The blog has also allowed the public to submit suggestions on how the police force can improve. Some say police in high-ranking positions should be encouraged to improve law enforcement and be more efficient when making decisions. Others write the police should own up to their mistakes instead of covering them up.

The police hope their blog will help boost their influence. They now plan to increase the content on the blog, including discussions of typical crime cases and open forums on the law and police work.
The article actually focuses more on blogs started by prominent Chinese businessmen. And some of the implications of this are very interesting indeed:
Xiang Wenbo, chief executive officer of Sanyi Heavy Industries, started to write his blog on only a few months ago. He had never imagined that his blog could be regarded as "China's first ever financial blog". It enjoys more than a million visitors, even though the main subject of his blog is fairly technical: the transfer of shares in Chinese companies.

The notoriety of his site comes from the fact that Xiang's comments on his blog about the takeover of the state-controlled Xuzhou Machine Group Ltd by the US-based Kelly Co helped squelch the transaction. The Chinese government has halted the deal amid criticism of "selling state assets cheaply". Xiang's company had been competing with Kelly in taking over Xuzhou Machine.

"The motive of writing my blog comes from a sense of responsibility," Xiang once told journalists, "No matter whether the blog writers are private or state entrepreneurs, they have an important social role to play, ie, to offer their experience and knowledge to the society. My special experience in starting, conducting and developing a private enterprise and also in introducing reforms in the allocation of stock shares of an enterprise enable me to share them with all that may concern."

Consequently, Xiang has posted a series of articles with titles such as "The takeover of Xuzhou Machine - a beautiful lie"; "Price cheating in the Xuzhou Machine purchasing case"; "See how Xuzhou Machine was cheaply sold out"; "The takeover of Xuzhou Machine by Kelly is an illegal transaction".
In this case, it's easy to conclude that Xiang's criticisms (and his own self-interests) dovetailed with the Chinese government's interests — some faction's interests, in any case. It's easy to appeal to peoples' nationalist sentiments, and it's popular to respond to said sentiments. But it will be interesting to see what happens when some prominent businessman/blogger takes on an issue not so much to the government's liking — or more accurately, one that works against the current ruling faction but plays to their competitors' interests. China may not have competing political parties, but the shades of Red in today's CCP are varied indeed...

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