Saturday, November 17, 2007

1907 and 2007: The late Qing press vs. the current Chinese Internet

I'm currently doing some research for an essay in my final class (Survey of Publishing: From Text to Hypertext) and stumbled upon a passage worth sharing here. The essay is about the rise of the Chinese press in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and the influence of Western newspaper models. The passage is from page four of Joan Judge's Print and Politics: ‘Shibao’ and the Culture of Reform in Late Qing China (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1996), and discusses the connections between the Chinese press and revolutionary politics toward the end of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911):
While print journalism served a political function in many nations, this role was particularly consequential in late Qing China, which had neither a system of political parties nor a representative national assembly. Independent of the dynasty and accessible to the reading public, the political press provided one of the few forums where reformists could advance their political agenda. Opening a field of mediation between the different spheres of late Qing China made it possible for reform publicists to challenge imperial authority and express popular grievances, encourage debate over government policies, and educate their compatriots about the urgent need to reform the structure of dynastic power.
Does anyone else see the parallels between what was happening at the end of the Qing dynasty, and what's happening now with the Internet in the People's Republic of China? We're not seeing much online debate in China about the CCP or the current political structure, but late Qing newspapers in the 1870s didn't have this kind of debate, either .... Judge is referring to newspaper activity several decades later, in the first decade of the 20th century -- right before the fall of the Qing.

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Another reason China should fear the 'Net: A million people with camera phones

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1 comment:

eric said...

I happened across this blog because I just finished applying for one of the professional masters at HES, but I also have a strong interest in Chinese culture, history and current events.

I think late-Qing and contemporary press probably do have some similarities, although I strongly doubt that very many in the contemporary press corps in China have anything like the urgency that would have existed in the first decade of the 1900s in China. The historical antecedents are quite different, and the view of the future of the country and its place in the world is also quite different today than 100 years ago. Just my opinions :-)