Beijing and New Media: Is the Eye of Sauron Turning to Twitter?

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There have been a wide range of comments in various media making comparisons between Tiananmen in 1989 and Teheran today, including one of our own posts, which wondered about the authorities reactions in China. Over at the China Media Project, David Bandurski highlighted a Guangming Daily article which blamed western media forces for stirring up trouble in Iran. Interestingly, as well as the usual suspects like CNN and the BBC, the article cited Twitter and noted that a U.S. State Department official had specifically called Twitter executives to ask them to delay scheduled maintenance that would hve interrupted service in Iran. A couple of days later, an article (here in Chinese; thanks as ever to the indefatigable Russ Moses for pointing it out) in the People’s Daily took up the Twitter point and argued that there was an unspoken collusion between new media and the U.S. government that constituted a new “e-diplomacy” by which Washington was pursuing it’s nefarious ends (in this case spreading its “value system,” a not very subtle code word for you-know-what). More so than the Guangming daily article, this piece dwells on the role of Twitter in Iran and  its apparent cooperation with the  U.S. State Department. Without reading too much into these two articles, it seems clear that along with worries about color revolutions, the authorities long have been perfectly aware of the dangers posed by mobile phones and text messaging but may just be beginning to realize that social networking tools like Twitter could pose a problem in difficult situations too. Coming in the wake of the sudden hysteria over Green Dam (see posts passim) and then the thwacking of Google (ditto), it does make one wonder whether Twitter’s China people are feeling a little nervous right now…..