Chinainternettoolforpoliticalactivism2 - The Internet as a...

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1 The Internet as a Tool for Political Activism in China Sharon Schroeder June 20, 2005 Copyright © Sharon Louise Schroeder, 2005. All Rights Reserved.
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Internet as Tool for Political Activism in China 2 It is almost hard to imagine that not that long ago, hardly anyone knew what the Internet was, let alone how to develop tools like e-petitions to let someone in a country to which you have never been join in a campaign to demand the release of a human rights abused prisoner in another country to which you have never been. The advent of the Internet and Information Technology has greatly altered the way societies are governed. Politicians and those in “power positions” depend on the communication of messages and ideas, and IT can be used to strengthen that power by affecting the “speed, destination, and anonymity of those communications” (Hachigian, 2003, p.56). Using IT to bolster a cause, whether it be for citizens or their state, can alter the outcome of a particular political race by changing the pace at which each side performs (Hachigian, 2003). It is important to remember, however, that technology is not the sole cause of political change, but it is a method through which people can affect change. Hachigian suggests several ways in which the Internet and Information Technology can influence the way a state is governed. Smaller political parties, non- governmental organizations (NGOs), dissenters, or concerned individuals can challenge those in power or their policies by widely disseminating information and more easily facilitating platforms through which supporters can organize. When information is freely available, it is possible to more easily gather facts with which to hold leaders accountable, especially when the mainstream media or other sources will not challenge the government. Dissenting groups can actually affect regime change by exploiting IT to highly publicize criticisms and share and organize information about gatherings and protest venues (Hachigian, 2003). As well, external pressure from foreign and international concerned parties can pressure governments to change their policies (Lai, 2003). Politics in different countries have been affected by the IT explosion in different ways. In some Asian countries like North Korea, Myanmar, and Singapore, IT has minimally affected politics. In other Asian countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, and China, however, IT has strongly affected politics (Hachigian, 2003). The reverse is true, as well, especially in China. Brief Background to Politics in China
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