TECHNOLOGY AND TOTALITARIANISM

Publication: China Brief Volume: 2 Issue: 15

By Baopu Liu

For technology enthusiasts who believe, or wish to believe, that information technology can help bring about the fall of totalitarianism, China is a serious disenchantment.

Its economic boom began in 1992, just in time to be caught up in the crest of the Internet revolution wave. By the end of 2001, 33.7 million Internet users operated over 12 million personal computers to gain access, 2.3 million of which had dedicated connectivity. [1]

Nevertheless, the growth of the internet and the flow of information via the internet has apparently not brought more diversity to Chinese opinions on major issues. Some 86 percent of mainland Chinese believe the U.S. spy plane incident was “a deliberate provocation by the United States.” [2] Nearly 82 percent of mainlanders support the use of force for unification with Taiwan. [3] Some 96 percent of Beijing residents supported the city’s Olympic bid. [4] And, in 2000, as the country faced growing unemployment, 97 percent of the population supported Premier Zhu Rongji’s Government Working Report at the National People’s Congress. [5]

HIGH-TECH AT WORK