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Comment Icon0 While the Internet poses a modern dilemma to China, the introduction of this technological innovation in itself is not the real threat to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Instead, the CCP identified the principal threat to come from particular instigators and their subversive uses of the Internet to destabilize the incumbent regime. Often, these instigators are part of unsanctioned non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which operate within as well as outside of China. As an authoritarian regime, the CCP does not tolerate these unsanctioned NGOs. As such, Beijing has been on a crackdown of these destabilizing components, as a testimony to Jiang Zemin’s 1998 pledge at a national law-enforcement conference. Zemin had declared: “Stability is the prerequisite for reform and development.” He continued to warn: “Without stability, we would achieve nothing and forfeit what we have achieved.” Zemin told the assembled members of the police and law-enforcement apparatus that maintaining stability was thus of the “utmost importance” (Xinhua News, 1998).

Comment Icon0 The destabilizing forces mentioned by China’s ex-president would likely include key unsanctioned NGO factions, namely the Falungong meditation sect, the China Democracy Party (CDP), and the Tibetan exile movement. In the past several years, the Chinese regime has been harassed by a host of unsanctioned NGOs, many of which come with global networks of supporters as well as dissident diaspora in North America and Europe. While these organizations operate in swarms, even individual activists have been equally effective at discrediting the Chinese government. For instance, the director of the Hong Kong Information Center, Frank Siqing Lu, gathered information on dissident arrests and worker demonstrations, then faxed handwritten news releases to international media organizations. While the Chinese authorities have not been able to silence Falungong followers, the resilient China Democracy Party, nor watchful activists like Frank Siqing Lu, till today there has never been any political, social or religious organization in China that is capable of challenging the CCP’s reign over China (Chase & Mulvenon, 2002). The relative effectiveness of the CCP’s Leninist methods to stop potential organized opposition, serves as evidence of how China has so far been able to overturn the democratic assumptions of the Internet, something which most of the Western nations had originally deemed as impossible. In the next few sections, we will observe the ways dissidents use the Internet to communicate and coordinate their actions.

Chapter 7.2 – Dissident Uses of Internet

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