The trial of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai has started for a couple of days, foreign media named the trial as ‘ trial of century’ or ‘show trial’ to define the baby step of China’s democracy improvement.
As a media major student, no matter what charges Mr Bo is facing to, I cannot get clear whether he is guilty or not. (Even the investigator from the Central Discipline Inspection Committee had to use 18 months investigations to give the open trial, and they still messed up every evidence that they thought can make Mr Bo confess his charges for his performance on trial).
However something interesting happened during Mr Bo’s whole case. Censorship in China is known worldwide. The Chinese government has long tried to keep a tight rein for online contents in order to prevent any challengers to its political authority. Google’s battle with the Chinese government over Internet censorship and the jailing of Chinese activist Liu Xiaobo also helped to draw increased attention to censorship policy in China from international society. In 2010, the Chinese government revised its existing law, which extended requirements to Internet companies and telecommunications operators to cooperate with Chinese authorities in investigations into leaks of state secrets. Even Google, Yahoo, to name just a few, have to follow the rules to keep a relationship with Chinese government if they want to do business in China. Now they all have censored version in China’s market.
Sina Weibo, copycat of Twitter, has strict censored functions itself from the beginning of its entrency of people’s social life. It contains a great number of backlisted keywords that the public is not allowed to use on it, especially the sensitive words in critical moments, like political power transition, or big scandals happening. Also, you cannot put central government leaders’ names on it. However, if you pay attention to Bo Xilai’s scandal, from the very beginning of his scandal, you can joke everything about him on blog. The freedom the public had was like they were living in America. But if you dare retweet or write some fake coups about Beijing, you would definitely be arrested.
Go back to continuing talking about Bo Xilai’s recent trials, foreign journalists and the public alike are not allowed to go into the courtroom. Only information outside the courtroom can get is through the court’s Weibo. I am wondering, if the government wants to democratize its trial procedure, let it be openness, why foreign journalists and the public are not allowed to go into the courtroom? If the government does not want the trial be revealed, why the court blogs some details? Why either the state run TV station or newspaper give Bo Xilai warning for his dismissing everything that he might be guilty before the trial give the final sentence?
Despite the political factions infighting got involved in Bo Xilai’s case, what the government is doing for influencing and redirecting the public opinion through censored tools? Who is the one that should be responsible for the public’s comments on Weibo or other social media? The public themselves or the government?
It is believed that mass media has the responsibility to help strength and support the democratic process as a watchdog. Besides, mass media take the accountability to lead the public to a right direction. In Bo Xilai’s case, single direction towards criticizing Mr Bo through social media, without any bountries, even no restrictions in moral sensce, quite the conturary, no comments were allowed to express the public’s will in terms of social phenomenon and policy, this is definitely not a necessary procedure in the process of democracy.
What the public should do is to take responsibility for their comments to the author as well as the contents they are commenting. When give the comments, considering the moral issues. The government should not put the public as the political infighting tool, instead the government should give as more freedom as the public should preside, let the public speak their will out, let the media do what they should do without any restrictions and pressure. That’s where the hope lies that can wipe out the bribery, corruption, and abuse of power.