Important that our GlobalSouth leadership's encourage anti-imperialist activism on the internet, as well as protecting and developing our own internet independence on the worldwide web. This is in line with wresting monopolisation and hegemonic control of the web from the usa and the 'west', and then rolling out a decolonisation struggle which replaces the current sexist, racist and neo-colonially violent state of the internet with one which is pro-Humanity. This is important not least as the internet has become the number one tool of disinformation and 'colour revolution' nay 'facebook/twitter revolutions' of neo-colonialism today. - Sukant Chandan, Sons of Malcolm
Patriot Blogger Embodies Beijing’s Web Vision
Until a few weeks ago, Zhou Xiaoping was a relatively obscure spiky-haired blogger whose fulminations against the West, particularly America, attracted a fringe audience of angry nationalists.
Now, thanks to President Xi Jinping , he’s famous. At a televised gathering in October of China’s cultural elites, Mr. Xi unexpectedly singled out the 33-year-old former People’s Liberation Army soldier for acclaim, along with another fiercely patriotic fellow blogger. “Keep writing works with ‘positive energy,’ ” the president urged them. Thrilled, Mr. Zhou posted a selfie with Mr. Xi in the background.
China’s propaganda czars are heavily promoting Mr. Zhou as the poster child for a Chinese-style Internet that operates in the service of the state. And now China wants to export that vision to the world.
Its desire to have a greater say in how the global Internet is run is understandable. After all, China has the world’s largest population of Internet users—630 million—and its Internet companies are making giant strides on the international stage. Online commerce site Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. recently raised $25 billion in a New York stock offering.
The question is whether the world is ready to embrace a system embodied by Mr. Zhou, who calls himself a “Sunshine Boy for the Motherland.”
China’s boldest effort yet to shape the future of the Web was an event last month labeled the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, a canal village in eastern China. Mr. Zhou was a high-profile speaker, taking the lectern in a session called the Internet Celebrities Dialogue.
At that meeting, China rolled out a nine-point draft declaration intended to seize the initiative on global Internet governance away from the U.S. It covered areas of universal concern, like cybersecurity and child protection, and then others that reflected China’s own political agenda.
Presiding over the Wuzhen conference was Lu Wei, China’s powerful online propaganda chief who is now in Washington to attend the U.S.-China Internet Industry Forum.
A demand to respect the principle of “Internet sovereignty” was a thinly veiled defense of China’s censorship regime—its “Great Firewall” that blocks critical voices and unwanted foreign influences, including social-networking sites like Facebook andTwitter , the Google search engine and several foreign news outlets including The Wall Street Journal. China emphatically rejects the notion of the Internet as a borderless digital commons.
Bullet point seven of the Wuzhen manifesto recalled Mr. Xi’s public praise of Mr. Zhou: “Widely spread the positive energy.”
Mr. Zhou couldn’t be reached to comment. His online career offers a case study in how China manages cyberspace. He got started around 2006 with blogs that rarely strayed into politics. But sometime in 2012 he found his groove with a series of lengthy posts under the heading “American-style democracy will take your life.”
He wrote in a combative style that appeals to China’s “angry youth,” typically members of what in China is known as the “post-80s” generation, frustrated by limited career prospects and packed into dormitories and cellars in backwater cities. Harangues like “Nine Knockout Blows in America’s Cold War Against China” suited the government’s agenda by shifting the anger of this group toward an external enemy. America, he wrote, is like a plague of white ants that eats away at China’s “moral basis and the country’s ethnic confidence.”
His pieces were picked up by the nationalist-leaning Global Times newspaper and the official Xinhua News Agency.
China’s censorship overlords further helped him on his way by silencing alternative voices. Among the first to be muted, soon after President Xi took office two years ago, were the so-called Big V bloggers who commanded tens of millions of followers. The antithesis of Mr. Zhou, they were cosmopolitan and well-to-do, and they offered a witty, sometimes erudite and almost always irreverent take on the problems of Chinese society.
One of them, Charles Xue, was paraded on state TV dressed in orange prison overalls after his arrest on charges of soliciting prostitutes. Posts on Mr. Xue’s microblogging account after he was released on bail earlier this year stated his regret over “mistakes,” capping months of public humiliation for one of China’s most influential Internet voices.
And now Mr. Zhou is lionized in state media. Interviewed by the People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s flagship paper, he said a formative moment in his life was the deadly U.S. bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in 1999, an event that Washington says was a tragic accident.
That moment, he said, destroyed his faith in America. “Why? I thought, what if we really go to war, what will happen to my mom and dad after the Americans send their bombs over?”
Mr. Zhou channels some of the political themes that Mr. Xi himself is pushing as part of his “China Dream,” a call for the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation that sizzles with resentments of the West. This means, of course, that he is now politically untouchable.
Critics mock his shaky grasp of U.S. society. To illustrate the financial burdens faced by ordinary Americans, for instance, he once claimed that a fast-food meal in the U.S. costs as much as $40.
“He’s a big threat,” says Zhang Wen, a part-time professor of journalism at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology. Mr. Zhang says he fears that China is reviving the techniques of brainwashing by using the Internet to spread propaganda.
Western governments largely shunned the World Internet Conference, or sent low-level representatives.
As for the draft declaration, it was shoved under the hotel doors of delegates shortly before midnight on the final day. Many had already left. The few foreign policy makers still there declined to sign off.