BEIJING – Between 1998 and 2010, official corruption was the chief cause of concern for netizens, a leading think tank said on Tuesday in Beijing.
“Issues related to government management, forced demolitions of houses and clashes between citizens and police attracted much attention on the Internet in 2010,” said Zhong Ying, a professor of the Huazhong University of Science and Technology’s journalism and information communication school.
In 2010, the number of issues drawing large amounts of discussion on the Internet increased because of “growing social conflicts” and “the development of micro blogs”, he said in the Annual Report on the Development of New Media in China (2011), which was released by the Social Sciences Academic Press on Tuesday.
International relations, academic corruption and campus security were also among the top five issues of greatest concern to the public, said the report.
A recent case has the Red Cross Society of China fighting to regain the public’s trust after a scandal in which a 20-year-old woman, who claimed to have a link to the organization, had boasted online about her luxurious lifestyle, provoking suspicions that she was misusing donations.
The woman wrote on her micro blog about her extravagant way of living and said she was the general manager of a company called Red Cross Commerce, which she said arranged for advertising to be displayed on Red Cross vehicles.
Netizens questioned whether the woman, named Guo Meimei, had paid for luxuries using money that had been given to the society. Some said they would never donate to the society again.
Guo has since become the hottest topic on Weibo.com, the chief micro blog site in China. Within the month leading up to Tuesday, the number of people who follow her posts had increased from several hundred to more than 488,000.
In another case, the media’s attention was caught by nude pictures of a Guangzhou official named Liu Ning being distributed quickly on Weibo.com. That scandal occurred on June 21, the same day that US House Representative Anthony Weiner resigned after lewd pictures of him had been posted on the micro blog site Twitter.
“With the development of social democracy and the law, citizens are now more aware that they can seek fairness and justice in China,” said Yu Xiucai, a teacher with the Zhongnan University of Economics and Law’s journalism and mass media school.
According to the report, 54 percent of the events that gave rise to netizens’ concerns occurred in the eastern part of the country and 24 percent in the western part.
In addition, 56 percent of the events that elicited expressions of concern on the Internet happened in big cities, while only 14 percent happened in rural regions, said the report.