Saturday, June 4, 2011

The candidate, citizens and the Web

In short, plaid shirt and sneakers without laces, Xu Chunliu joins us at the company cafeteria Sohu, the Chinese Internet giant. The floor is tiled in bright blue, the walls are apple green. Here reign the "standard Nasdaq," explained the journalist, aged 31. We will not speak on what's hot in China, let alone the high-tech U.S.

stock exchange where Sohu is listed, but ... policy. Mr. Xu is one of a new generation of citizens who decided to stand as candidates in the forthcoming parliamentary elections. At least one level where, in communist China, a direct vote is possible for independent candidates, the popular assemblies of districts, towns and townships.

In theory, anyone can come through ten nominal support. In practice, the winners are often 'parachuted'. All sorts of obstacles stand in the independents - they were almost 100 000 in 2006-2007. Above all, the press has ignored about their names and their campaigns. Some pioneers in the past, tested the strength of the system.

In 1998, after ten years of battle, Yao Lifa, at Qianjiang in Hubei, was the first Independent ever elected. In 2003, a slew of lawyers and intellectuals launched into the race, determined to enforce existing laws. Some will be elected, especially in the Haidian District in Beijing - as the lawyer Xu Zhiyong, who completes his second term this year.

For the upcoming election season - from July 2011 to December 2012 - the eve censorship. But it reckoned without the services of such Weibo microblog, Twitter Chinese. Xu Chunliu and a dozen other surfers like him active, and for some very influential on the Internet in China, have decided to make a platform to relay their "campaigns" and communicate with the public.

The tool - hosted by Sina, Sohu's competitor - "brings people together who have the same enthusiasm," said Mr. Xu. This new outbreak of civil society may seem doomed to failure. In fact, despite the repressive climate, once taboo political issues exposed in the debates. Nanfang Dushi Bao, the most liberal of Chinese newspapers, and was praised in an editorial in the current "candidate Weibo" that "advances the understanding of the mechanisms of democracy" and will help "bring it" .

The very conservative Huangqiu Shibao replied that independents had better "get out of Weibo back to reality." Xu Chunliu has long been a journalist for the newspaper. Frustrated by censorship, he joined Sohu, where he interviewed personalities. It will appear in the Dongcheng district in Beijing.

For him, China is no longer monolithic. Different interest groups need to make their voices heard. But while the poorest are the threat of chaos and that the powerful have direct channels with the power, the class "center" of "urban educated" is, according to him, under-represented. At his level of district deputy, he wants to tackle certain problems, like lack of parking spaces or conflicts between owners and property managers.

The "candidate Weibo" are led by a key figure, Li Chengpeng, which arises in a district of the city of Chengdu. This former sports journalist of 43 years, author of a novel about forced demolitions which caused a stir when it was published in January, 2.9 million subscribers to its RSS microblog.

He promises to "supervise the government." On the phone, he says have created a team of advisers for his campaign. Y are the sociologist Yu Jianrong, guru of social issues on the Net, and investigative journalist Wang Keqin. Two lawyers assist him in legal matters. Li Chengpeng also relies on the help of two "friends", the writer Han Han-star blogger and filmmaker Feng Xiaogang, the champion of the Chinese box office.

This mix of celebrities weigh heavy in the era of mass media individually. The mobilization of "candidate Weibo" was triggered by the unsuccessful campaign of Liu Ping. This woman was 47 years of retirement from a steel mill state in 2009 with a pension of misery, after thirty-one years of service.

She began to petition in high places, to no avail. In April, she comes to elections, due in May, his district Xinyu, Jiangxi. She then leads campaign on the road, with election posters. And Weibo. "With close to fifty years, I've never seen a single ballot. I paid my taxes and fulfill obligations of good citizenship.

This time I'm fighting for my rights as a citizen!" Wrote it on his microblog where that some have called the Rosa Parks Chinese will eventually attract about 30,000 subscribers. But the police sabotaged his efforts. She was arrested a few days before the election and held incommunicado.

Local authorities describe as "manipulated by hostile forces from outside". It is the excitement on the Web in China. Beijing sociologist Yu Jianrong announces that goes to local authorities as a member of the "hostile forces inside. When, in late May, a petitioner in another city in Jiangxi blew himself up outside the offices of local government, internet whistle: "Give us the vote, if not, beware of bombs !"...

brice @ gol. com Brice Pedroletti Article published in the edition of 04.06.11

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