by Lin Zihao
In this essay, the author wants to explore how discussions of ethnic minority are embedded in a wider public discursive field in Chinese domestic digital sphere in contrast to the global cyberspace. Before carving out the netizen mentality, the concepts of “harmonious society” (Chinese: hexie shehui) and “Internet sovereignty”, two defining official discourses developed by Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the ruling entity of PRC, since the new millennium, are introduced. Under the moral stances of social harmony guarded through means of state-sponsored online regulation, Chinese netizens are positioned in a state where certain boundaries of free speech are pinned down: ethnic hatred and religious discrimination become heavily censored issues. To fulfill a harmonious socialist vision, the state actors take pain to promulgate positive images of ethnic minorities in digital media. With strict online content regulation on the other hand, overt racism/ ethnic hatred is prohibited and hugely marginalized. This is in no way asserting Chinese blogosphere as a trouble-free utopia: the author illustrates further how certain netizens shun perceived punishment or social pressure, negotiate their counterattacks on state-dominant narratives and, eventually, racialize heated discussions.
Read the fifth Mapping China Working Paper of 2017 here.