In an article in today’s People’s Daily, SIIO director Lu Wei has provided concrete information on Internet governance measures that can be expected over the following months. This follows from Xi Jinping’s speech at the recent Propaganda and Ideology Work Conference, which confirmed recent trends that Internet governance is put front and centre. It is not strange to see why this is the case. Not that long ago, the leadership had a relatively strong command of traditional media, certainly where its central political imperatives were concerned. Consequently, the traditional media sphere could be described as a relatively harmonious echo chamber. This made it possible to pin dissent onto a small minority of people. The advent of Internet technology and – granted – the fact that social media were given considerable space to develop in China has upset this relatively satisfactory picture. While it remains an unanswerable question to what extent the leadership was aware of the magnitude of social tensions, corruption and dissatisfaction, the online outpouring of “negative energy” online in recent years seems to have come as a genuine, disconcerting surprise, and makes it considerably more difficult to continue to derive legitimacy from good governance. Furthermore, as Lu recognizes in this article, the Internet has brought the increasing complexity of Chinese society to the fore, and allows for persons with similar interests and ideas to communicate across the regional, sectoral and geographical borders that have hitherto been used to fragment the media sphere.
So what is to be done about this. First, the Party will enhance its efforts to maintain its dominance in the formation of public information. Recognizing that it is no longer possible to control the publication of factual information, it has redoubled efforts to provide the correct ideological mindset to interpret and contextualize factual information. Second, according to Lu, and as already indicated in recent Red Flag articles, it seems that the enforcement of existing regulations will be upped, and new licensing structures brought in for information and communication platform providers. These measures will also include the enforcement of the real name registration system for microblogs, as well as website registration. Lastly, the Party will strengthen various related measures, including mandatory training and certification for key positions within enterprises and a continuing crackdown on online rumours and other undesired content.
It is recognized that these objectives require an increased control over the technical side of information networks, as well as a conducive international development. One interesting trend to follow in this regard is the development of Chinese efforts to internationalize control over ICANN. Its 46th Public Meeting was held in Beijing last April, where it announced its approval of Chinese character top-level domains and the opening of its first Global Engagement Centre, run together with the China Internet Network Information Centre and the Chinese Academy of Science.
Make Online Public Opinion Work Into the Heaviest of Heavies in Propaganda and Ideology Work
In his important speech at the Nationwide Propaganda and Ideology Work Conference, General Secretary Xi Jinping stressed that, on the basis of the needs of trends and developments, we must make online public opinion work into the heaviest of heavies for propaganda and ideology work, and grasp it. This is a new deployment and a new requirement of the Centre concerning online public opinion work, which fully reflects the Party Centre’s moving with the times and correctly grasping Internet development trends. We must deeply study and implement the spirit of the speech, implement the basic policies of positive use, scientific development, management according to the law and guaranteeing security, we must liberate thoughts, seek truth from facts, reform and innovate, comprehensively improve online public opinion levels with an even more enthusiastic and active spiritual attitude, closely grasp the leadership power, management power and discourse power in online public opinion work, further consolidate the guiding position of Marxism in the ideological area, and consolidate the common ideological basis for the united struggle of the entire Party and the people of all ethnicities in the entire country.
I, Deeply understanding the major significance of making online public opinion work into the heaviest of heavies
We must realistically strengthen our sense of responsibility and sense of urgency, deeply understand the extreme importance of doing online public opinion work well, comprehensively do online public opinion work well with even more powerful measures, and build a desirable online public opinion environment.
Making online public opinion work into the heaviest of heavies is a major policy decision to guarantee national security and ideological security. New network technology and new businesses are developing rapidly, which both stimulated the development and innovation of overall social culture, and intensified the mutual agitation between different ideologies and cultures on a global scope, it further expanded the characteristics of plurality, diversity and variability of our country’s ideological and cultural sphere. Following the development and spread of mobile Internet and intelligent mobile terminals, online information sources and dissemination channels have increased rapidly, the scale and influence of online public opinion is growing ever larger, the Internet is becoming more of a platform for all sorts of thinking trends and all sorts of interests to appeal and coalesce every day. We must persist in comprehensively planning both the domestic and international larger pictures, expand network construction and management strength, closely grasp the online public opinion battlefield, and guarantee national security and ideological security.
Making online public opinion work into the heaviest of heavies is a strategic choice to respond to developments and changes in our country’s media structure and public opinion structure. The Internet and especially social media, also known as “self-media”, have seen great changes and developments, they brought changes to the methods of information dissemination, changed our country’s information dissemination structures and the ways in which people obtain information, and are further changing the structure of social public opinion. The Internet has become an emerging medium with a broad influence, it has become an important place where social opinions generate, and has become an important force influencing social public opinion. At present, our country’s Internet houses nearly 600 million netizens, there are 460 million mobile netizens, among which there are 300 million microblog users. The rapid development of the Internet has brought great changes to the environment, targets, scope and methods of propaganda and ideology work, we must face these sorts of changes squarely, give high regard to this reality, act by seizing opportunities, guide actions according to circumstances and move with the times in adjusting the focus point of our propaganda and ideology work. Under this kind of circumstance, skirting around online public opinion work in discussing mass work will not do. Doing online public opinion work well means marching along the online mass line and doing online mass work, and is a necessary path to do mass work under new circumstances well.
Making online public opinion work into the heaviest of heavies is an important measure to strengthen and innovate social management under new circumstances. The Internet has brought important transformations to people’s expressing information, interacting, communicating, social networking and thinking habits. Networked production and networked life have become normal, a number of netizens with similar purposes and interests cross regions, sectors and national borders, and compose social units and social groups that each have their own symbols, they interact and discuss at all times and places, and influence public affairs and the direction of policy. The Internet’s changing of social structures and social relationships has further increased the difficulty of social management and ideological work. We must deeply understand the profound changes that information technology has brought to the structure of society, and on the basis of the new characteristics of the new stage of social development, put online public opinion work in an even more prominent position, grasp it, strengthen and innovate social management in cyberspace
Making online public opinion work into the heaviest of heavies, is a real requirement to satisfy the popular masses’ daily increasing spiritual and cultural needs, and to strengthen national cultural soft power. At present, the contradiction that the supply of our country’s excellent online cultural products is insufficient and public cultural information services are unsatisfying is relatively prominent, they are not suited to the needs of constructing an advanced Socialist culture, and there still is a relatively large gap with the broad popular masses, daily increasing spiritual cultural needs, the task of developing healthy and upward online culture is arduous and complex. At the same times, from the global point of view, all countries are making the Internet into an important method and carrier for increasing cultural soft power, and adopt all kinds of methods to seize decisive development opportunities. Even though insufficient development has been obtained in developing our country’s online culture, there still is great space for improvement. This requires that we expand the strength of online public opinion work and strengthen the supply of healthy and upward online information, enhance international online dissemination strength and strengthen national cultural soft power.
Making online public opinion work into the heaviest of heavies is an urgent requirement to purify the social environment and protect the healthy upbringing of the youth. The youth occupies the majority of our country’s netizens. Through efforts from many sides, our country’s online environment has generally been preserved relatively well, but because of complex reasons on many side, online obscenity, sex and vulgar tendencies rebound extremely easily, online rumours, online violence and other such uncivilized phenomena happen time and again, gravely upsetting social order, running the social atmosphere and harming the youth’s physical and mental health, the broad masses react extremely strongly against this. We must, in line with a spirit of responsibility towards the Party, responsibility towards the people and responsibility to posterity, firmly grasp online public opinion work, this heaviest of heavies, firmly grasp the purification of the online environment, and realistically grasp this popular sentiment work tightly, well and with effect.
II, Founding a new picture of online public opinion work with a spirit of reform and innovation
We must, according to the new requirements of new deployments, strengthen our political consciousness, a consciousness of the larger picture, a sense of responsibility, a sense of critics, we must dare to take charge, reform and innovate, and found a new picture with a positive and promising spiritual attitude.
Strengthen and improve online positive propaganda and public opinion guidance, vigorously disseminate online positive energy. We must realistically raise online positive propaganda quality and levels, strengthen attractiveness and effectiveness. We must persist in unity, stability and encouragement, putting positive propaganda first, closely revolve around the main line of deeply launching propaganda and education on Socialism with Chinese characteristics and the Chinese Dream, and give rein to the function of online positive propaganda. We must persist in correct public opinion guidance, incessantly raise online public opinion guidance levels, regardless of whether it is Internet construction, content production, or Internet management, we must always put persisting in the correct orientation first. We must grasp online public opinion guidance timing, extent and effect well, truly start from stressing practical results, research problems, research targets and research strategies, improve online public opinion guidance, and let netizens take this in and trust this. We must strengthen guidance and persuasion concerning all sorts of online thinking trends, confused understandings and social emotions, explanation and guidance concerning online social hot spots and problems, online guidance concerning sudden incidents, we must both reflect the work of the Party and the government, and guide social emotions onto healthy and rational tracks.
Forcefully promote the development of new media, expand and strengthen the online mainstream public opinion battlefield. In the Internet era, promoting media convergence and development is an inevitable trend. If we do not effectively occupy emerging public opinion battlefields, other people will occupy them, and this will form challenges for the power of initiative and power of discourse in our public opinion work. We must strengthen a consciousness about the battlefield, forcefully move forward with the converged development of traditional media and new media, strengthen dissemination strength, credibility and influence, and realistically and substantially implement the principle and requirement that the Party manages the media. We must promote Party newspapers, Party journals, news agencies, radio and television stations, etc., to accelerate the pace of digitalization, networking and mobilization on the basis of consolidating the development of traditional business, and race to seize the initiative in development. We must vigorously respond to the trends of differentiation and objectification of dissemination, tightly grasp the juncture of mobile Internet development, forcefully develop online media, mobile media, etc., and strengthen the construction of all sorts of mobile terminals. We must plan and promote a new round of development of websites publishing news information, and vigorously promote that those meeting conditions go on the market.
Strengthen online social governance, guarantee that the Internet is operated in a standard manner, orderly and according to the law. In online public opinion work, positive energy is the general requirement and keeping control is a hard principle. We must persist in grasping management with one hand and pushing online positive energy with the other hand, grasp matters with both hands, and both hands must be tough. We must persist in scientific management, management according to the law and effective management, implement the “NPC Standing Committee Decision concerning Strengthening Online Information Protection”,
Accelerate the construction of a legal system for the network, accelerate the formation of an Internet management structure that combines legal norms, administrative supervision and management, sector self-discipline, technological safeguards, public supervision and social education, incessantly raise network management efficiency. we must strengthen the construction of an online sincerity and honesty system, and realistically move forward with microblog user real name information registration and authentication work. We must strengthen website registration and filing, and management of access service, domain name, IP address and other basic resources, guaranteeing that website registration and filing information is accurately and truthfully completed. Persist in implementing an administrative licensing system for online information services involving the public interest, perfect market access and withdrawal mechanisms, and implement sector entry prohibitions against those gravely violating laws or regulations.
Persist in unremittingly purifying the online environment, raising the popular masses’ level of satisfaction about the online environment. We must strictly attack acts of disseminating obscene and vulgar information, protect citizens’ personal information, firmly attack online rumours, punish law-breakers according to the law, and realistically standardize online information order, ensuring that our cyberspace becomes clean and crisp. We must strengthen website employee training and implement post certification structures for focus posts. We must complete and perfect report award structures, giving rein to the positive function of the broad netizens in cleaning up the online environment. We must broadly launch the foundation of civilized websites, deeply launch education about the network legal system and morals, strive to foster reasonable online voices, healthy voices and constructive voices, and foster a civilized and rational online environment. We must strive to raise the online accomplishments of the entire society, raise the public’s sense of online security and consolidate a social basis and mass basis for the purification of the online environment.
III, Strengthening and improving Party leadership over online public opinion work.
Strengthening and improving Party leadership over online public opinion work is the fundamental guarantee for the Internet propaganda management front to do its work well.
Realistically put online public opinion work in an important position. All levels’ Party Committees and governments must, from the heights of the overall picture and of strategy, realistically put online public opinion work in an important position, and list it on the important matters agenda. Main responsible cadres must grasp this themselves, integrate Party action with departmental responsibility, and shape a desirable structure in which the entire Party and the entire society jointly does online public opinion work. We must regularly analyse new situations and new issues in the online ideological area, grasp large trends, strengthen guidance and closely grasp leadership power and the power of initiative. We must provide powerful policy support, realistic investment guarantees, and assist the resolution of real problems. We must give high regard to the construction of Internet construction and management leadership ranks, cadres and talent teams, promote those excellent cadres who combine ability and integrity, and have good overall accomplishments, to leading positions, and concentrate even more excellent talents into Internet construction and management teams.
Realistically strengthen talent team construction. In doing online public opinion work well, people are crucial. We must strengthen Internet construction and management team construction, guarantee that the leading power of Internet construction and management is held tightly in the hand of people who are loyal to Marxism, and loyal to the Party and the people. All levels’ leading cadres must give high regard to studying Internet knowledge and raising the capacity to control the Internet. We must earnestly do online celebrity uniting and guidance work well. We must strengthen online editing employee management well, launch large-scale training and shape a line of network talent teams with high political quality and strong professional ability.
Incessantly strengthen investigation and research. We must follow new developments on the Internet, strive to explore new channels and new ways, and incessantly improve online public opinion work. We must pay close attention to problems at the forefront of Internet construction and management, strengthen research, and realistically provide theoretical support to online public opinion work. We must strengthen international exchange and cooperation in the Internet area, establish multi-level, multichannel and comprehensive cooperation mechanisms, and contribute to the building of a rational and fair international Internet order.
(The author is the director of the State Internet Information Office)
《 人民日报 》( 2013年09月17日 16 版)