What Does Micro Blog Reflect About China’s Government?

17 Nov

Transparency

“China, please stop your flying pace, wait for your people, wait for your soul, wait for your morality, wait for your conscience! Don’t let the train run out off track, don’t let the bridges collapse, don’t let the roads become traps, don’t let houses become ruins. Walk slowly, allowing every life to have freedom and dignity. No one should be left behind by our era.”

The quotation above was a post on Micro blog–the Chinese version of Twitter, after the deadly bullet train collision in eastern China in July and millions of bloggers posted similar appeals for safety control in the nation’s development. What infuriated the public was not the accident itself but the follow-up by the government. Right after the accident, all major websites reported the accident with pictures showing that the ministry was burying parts of the wrecked trains near the site. The news with pictures prompted public request for careful examination to determine the causes of the malfunction. The Railway Ministry explained that the trains contained valuable technology that might be stolen and thus must be buried. More confusion emerged over efforts to portray lightning as the culprit in the accident, when the government announced that the trains were hit by lightning and lost power. The true cause of the accident was not explained, and the Railway Minister said “believe it or not, that’s what happened,” when asked to explain the issue on the press release. This lack of transparency in China’s government over the past few decades also led to the people’s mistrust of the government.

Trust

In another posting on the Micro blog, a teenager named Guo Meimei showed off her luxury handbags and sport cars through posts and claimed to be the General Manager of Red Cross at the Chamber of Commerce.  She did not realize she stepped on a sensitive nerve and caused national questioning of the credibility of The Red Cross. The public reaction was so intense that The Red Cross had to hold a press conference for clarification. Recently, she admitted that she made up the title, but the public still didn’t buy it. The people’s reactions showed the general mistrust of government and government-backed institutions which, historically, lack transparency.

Micro blog is the only uncensored information medium in China since traditional newspapers are controlled by the government. It serves as the single unrestricted venue where people voice their thoughts and thus fully reflects China’s political situation.

What this means for business communication

The lack of transparency in the government and the people’s trust of the nation are mainly caused by the abuse of censorship. Censorship is the unique “product” of Socialist countries like China and I have experienced censorship in various aspects for my first twenty-year life in China. I could not find the original source of the most first quote from Micro blog because it was deleted two days after the post, and I would never know that a Chinese writer won the Nobel Prize last year if I was not studying abroad. From a business perspective, government censorship is important for large companies that intend to expand internationally. Companies would have to make compromise when encounter government intervention as Google did with its searching system in China. It would be best if we know what Socialist governments need regarding censorship to establish better corporations. The concept of censorship also makes difference in individual business communication. To sell ourselves to potential employers, we must build reliable “brand images.” With a sense of censorship in mind, we would never post party picture and antiauthority comments on Facebook where potential employer may see, and thus eliminating negative impressions. The proper use of self-censorship will always help us communicating in the positive manner through our professional careers.

by Tianqi (Frank) Zhou

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