Social Media in Mainland China – “bei hexie le”

What? Bei hexie le??? For your information, that is not a typo. In Mandarin Chinese, “bei hexie le” means “(something) has been harmonized.”

According to the Wall Street Journal report by Xiao Qiang and Perry Link, people in mainland China have to be very “creative” when communicating on the internet because the government is actively and heavily monitoring people’s conversation in the cyberspace. So, instead of posting “my wallet has been stolen” on the internet, one must use “wo bei hexie le” as a “synonymic but good” expression (translated into “I have been harmonized” for the bad accident happened to me). Otherwise, this kind of messages will be screened, and their voices will never be heard.

For a long time, I have known and accepted the fact that I cannot communicate with my family and friends in mainland China via social media. They have no access to Facebook, Twitter, or my blogs --- you can be the judge here and decide whether my blog is strictly business focus or promoting anti-China thoughts/activities.

Regardless, I have to admit that I am very impressed with the power of the Chinese government. How can it manage to literally cease the social media movement in a country of over 1.3 billion people? Can China continue to do so by stopping the social media movement in the history of human development? Very likely, China has the power to do that, but I wonder if such scrutiny on censorship will actually do more harm than good to the country and the Chinese citizens.

I am not a politician by any means, but I see social media as a very powerful communication tool for business. Business must actively engage with their customers and business partners on social media to stay competitive. Yes, there are times when people say negative things about the business, but social media is not about “controlling” or preventing what people talk about on the internet. Rather, business needs to take every feedback seriously and respond to the negative reviews in a professional way. Think positively, customers are providing the business an opportunity by providing negative feedback so that the business can address the issue before it becomes too big or too late.

Under the scrutiny on censorship in mainland China, my friends can occasionally jump over the firewalls and access their Facebook and Twitter accounts. There are two popular and so-called social media tools available in China --- Weibo, which is the only microblogging tool that is certified by the Chinese government, as well as WeChat, which is a mobile app for photo sharing, text messaging, and microblogging. I tried to sign up a Weibo account about a year ago. I was denied because I was using an e-mail address at Yahoo.com. I am now using WeChat to connect with my friends and family in China, but it does not seem like a real social-media tool to me because my friends cannot see any activities between my other connections and me. For example, they do not know if we have any shared connections or what I “like” or comment on WeChat; they cannot even join the conversation between my other friends and me on my wall (except the time when I initiate a group chat). Then, in what way can WeChat and Weibo help promote an international business?

There are advocates promoting a life-style with no texting, tweeting, or Facebooking. Maybe this group is exactly what the Chinese government is after.  

What do you think? Is the censor’s scrutiny helping the country and the people living there? Why or why not?

Other relevant discussions:

References:
Qiang, Xiao and Link Perry (2013, January 5-6). In China’s cyberspace, Dissent speaks code – What to escape the censor’s scrutiny? Call the regime a ‘heavenly dynasty.’ Just don’t get ‘happieness-ified.’ The Wall Street Journal, C3. Also available online on http://on.wsj.com/SqXeU0
The picture was downloaded from Geek.com.

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