The Internet, Social Media, and a Changing China

By Jacques Delisle; Avery Goldstein et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
New Media Empowerment and State-Society
Relations in China

Zengzhi Shi and Guobin Yang

Chinese Internet users were the first to break news of the Wenchuan earthquake in May of 2008. Shortly thereafter, China Central Television (CCTV) began working with local television stations to produce live broadcasts of the earthquake relief work occurring on-site. This was the first time CCTV had taken such an initiative. During this period, new and old media interacted to bring about connections and communication between multiple subjects. In some cases, new and old media actively cooperated in the earthquake relief work. In a sense, this marked a new stage of China’s public communication era. This has significant implications for the transformation of China’s state and society relations.

In the wake of the Wenchuan earthquake, evidence of social autonomy appeared in the form of civic awareness and citizen participation in the relief efforts.1 While the government led the disaster relief, a large number of volunteers, NGOs, and media took part as well. Citizens and organizations influential in the development of the welfare industry emphasized voluntary and independent social participation while supporting cooperation with government authorities. The Red Cross Society of China (RCSC) was the first national organization to fund grassroots NGO projects in China. Shortly after the Wenchuan earthquake, RCSC allocated 20 million RMB to fund NGO-directed post-disaster reconstruction projects. The NGOs that accepted RCSC grants were required to make a pledge to work with local government departments in completing the projects.

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