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LinkAsia | Feb 22
"Can a search engine succeed if you have no concept of the free flow of information?" That was the question posed by former Google China head Kai-F...
We're now just days away from the official 90th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party. It's a time of great pomp and circumstance, but also of deep anxiety, for China's Communist Leaders. Just last week, the top propaganda leader, Li Changchun, sent the message that it was time to get the Party started, and that no one had better spoil the mood of glory and goodwill. He said the media must "sing the main theme of the times", of the "goodness of the CCP, the goodness of socialism, and the goodness of economic reform." The mood, he said, should be "solemn" but "joyful." China's top Internet news websites got the message. They all went "red" to celebrate the anniversary. But the biggest Party-driven commotion now surrounds China's new, state-financed propaganda flick. Called "The Beginning of the Great Revival," the film centers on the 1911 Xinhai Revolution which overthrew the Qing Dynasty, and also on the founding of the Chinese Communist Party. The film, which is state-financed, features major commercial film stars such as Chow Yun-fat and Andy Lau. The film is expected to rake in hundreds of millions of yuan. And it could hardly fail. It has the full backing of the state. And releases of Hollywood blockbusters like Transformers 3 have been pushed back to clear the box office. But behind the celebrations, there is growing anxiety about where China stands, and where it's heading. While the Party can take much of the credit for China's economic growth, it now has to deal with the casualties. And in recent weeks, there have been clear signs of the mounting social pressures in China as Chinese bristle at inequality in Chinese society, and festering problems like government corruption. Just two weeks ago, thousands of migrant workers in southern China staged riots, burning government vehicles and attacking police, after news spread that a pregnant migrant worker had been attacked by government security. These are all images posted by ordinary Chinese to the Twitter-like Sina Microblog. . . The unrest showed just how potentially explosive tensions now are between the government and many Chinese -- particularly those like migrants who have been left behind as China has surged ahead. But now, try searching the term Xintang, where the riots happened, on Sina -- and you get a warning: "According to relevant laws and policies, these search results cannot be shown." Photos and posts are inaccessible. Of course, rising tensions are no secret. And as the proletarian characters in the CCP's new hype film shout, "Long Live the workers!" some Chinese will no doubt be grumbling about who the CCP actually represents today, 90 years after its founding, off the silver screen. Those questions are deepened by the revelation in two major Chinese newspapers last week that -- based on figures from China's central bank -- that more than 10,000 corrupt government officials have fled China since the 1990s with an estimated 800 billion yuan in state assets. That's a staggering 124 billion US dollars.
Thanks. David Bandurski is head of the china media project at Hong Kong university.