China’s Public Opinion Management:
Tightening the Grip in the Digital Age
The Finnish Institute of International Affairs
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The number of netizens in China is growing year on year and
the increase in the use of mobile technologies to access the internet is the
most notable trend of late. Around half of the Chinese population are now
The Chinese leadership has tightened internet control since
August 2013. In February 2014, China established Central Internet Security and
Information Leading Group, headed by President Xi Jinping, to monitor Chinese
cyberspace. Defamatory social media posts were criminalized, and the first
sentence was imposed in April 2014.
Despite stricter internet control, criticism of the state
and politicians has often been tolerated in social media, whereas any content
that promotes offline collective action is systematically censored. However,
the idea that the development of the internet in China would lead to
significant political change seems unwarranted in the current circumstances.
Poll data released on September 9 show that almost 90 per
cent of the Chinese respondents harbour negative views about Japan. Internet
forums and increasing commercialization of the traditional media are
contributing to this public opinion trend, which complicates the handling of
China’s turbulent relations with Japan.