Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Blogging the Public Voice

A 27-year-old blogger, writer and race car driver named Han Han was nominated to Time Magazine's 100 most influential people in the world this year.

In the online poll he is topping the other Chinese compatriots on the list that includes Vice Premier Wang Qishan, Chongqing Communist Party Secretary Bo Xilai, Baidu CEO Robin Li and human rights activist Liu Xiaobo. Other notable figures include US President Barack Obama, US Secretary Hillary Clinton, Olympic skater Kim Yu-na, and two-time Grammy winner Lady Gaga.

Han is an interesting and prolific figure blessed with good looks and a high-flying lifestyle. He apparently dropped out of high school in Shanghai and penned a novel based around his experiences, "sparking a debate about the quality of the country's rigid education system," according to Time magazine.

But he is best known for his blog which can be very critical of the government; this is ironic considering his father was the front-page editor of a local party paper, while his mother worked at the social service bureau helping the needy, fostering Han's support for the underdog.

"I may not deserve such a title of being 'influential.' My efforts to improve the fate of those who devote themselves to the cultural sector of this country, to raise their status, and to lift the level of freedom of China's cultural sector, have yielded little gains. I feel I'm weak," Han told a national paper.

Despite his humbleness, he has struck a chord with his blog, which has more than 300 million hits, the largest following of a personal blog in China.

Almost a year ago when the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology ordered all PC makers to install a software called Green Dam to filter out pornography by July 1 last year, Han criticized it, saying the excuse of protecting children from pornography wasn't a strong enough reason to warrant such an action.

Then last month when the sex diary of Han Feng, the tobacco bureau chief in Laibin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region was exposed online, the young blogger wrote sarcastically online, calling web users to be merciful to the man, implying that there are many more officials who are more corrupt and evil than him who have yet to be uncovered.

Some critics like Bai Ye, a Chinese literary critic, think Han is too young and not mature enough to represent all young Chinese.

"The media has created an inaccurate impression of Han, who has been hyped as a representative of young Chinese people."

Another, 56-year-old Sun Hong who is a retired editor, says Han's opinions resonate with foreigners because he is aligned with their views. He is also influential to young people because he has a rebellious spirit and has the freedom to pursue whatever he wants.

Han is merely speaking out what many others think but dare not say aloud.

In a New York Times profile, Han dismissed party officials for their lack of intelligence ad relevance to the people.

"Their lives are nothing like ours," he said. "The only thing they have in common with young people is that like us, they too have girlfriends in their 20s, although theirs are on the side."


After his writings became pointed and would affect his parents' jobs, he suggested they retire and he financially look after them. He is also careful not to name names despite his blog being "harmonized", a euphemism for censorship.

Regardless, most of his readers know what he's talking about and are nodding their heads in agreement.

He makes them feel heard and noted.

1 comment:

gg said...

how come he is not censored by the government officials? is he not considered decadent?