Tuesday, July 31, 2012

London Opening Ceremony

Another one of my articles is now up over at Tea Leaf Nation. This is a shorter piece that quickly analyzed what Chinese netizens thought of the London Opening Ceremony in comparison to Beijing's in 2008.

Read the article HERE.

Netizen Anger Over Swimming Allegations

My second article on Tea Leaf Nation focuses on the netizen anger over Ye Shiwen's miraculous race and the doping allegations that immediately followed from a BBC commentator.

Read the article HERE.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tea Leaf Nation Contribution

I've recently become a contributor at Tea Leaf Nation and my first story was posted this morning, titled Op-Ed: What America’s Troubled Schools Can Learn From the Shanghai Model. Go check it out :)

Monday, July 2, 2012

"Rail" Name Problems

In my research I've discussed the implications of implementing real-name verification requirements to popular websites within China. Some websites in China's main cities have already begun to enact these requirements, although they are loosely structured. And further advancements have begun to move past the planning stages in the past few months, leaving lasting implications over the rights of netizens online and questions as to how and when a netizen's personal identity can be shared. This policy threatens the power of anonymity on the internet, and more specifically, the power that anonymity holds for web activists around the globe.

Recently a news story surfaced where a woman in China was denied a train ticket because her name was put on a travel blacklist. A recent (and loosely upheld) policy change in China requires tickets to display the real name of the ticket holder. The woman, Chen Xiujuan, is a farmer in China's northern region and sought to travel to Beijing to air her grievances to the central government. She was denied a train ticket by an agent who found Chen's name on a train ticketing blacklist.

What makes this story so poignant is that it amplifies the concerns that real-name verification purposes can hold for Chinese citizens in a variety of settings. This case shows the often benign reasons that can bring someone to become blacklisted, and the effects with which being blacklisted causes - in Chen's case, her ability to protest against farming grievances in her village. Real-name verification for the Chinese internet would look very similar. At present Chinese microblogs such as Weibo provide netizens with the luxury of airing their grievances under the guise of online anonymity (although Weibo now has very loose name verification policies). If Chen's case with railway travel emulates itself on the Chinese blogging sphere, one could soon find that many of China's dissenting voices could be forever silenced. On top of that, the government would be able to dictate who is able to share their opinions and views on the Chinese internet, gravely robbing the Chinese internet of its diverse voices.

On the other hand, this story may not seem as surprising to western audiences, where travel bans and blacklists have existed for years. The United States has strict identity requirements when traveling by air or rail requiring passengers to provide their legal name. And when flying passengers must present valid forms of identification. Rail travel in China equates to America's airline industry: the preferred mode of travel for its population. Therefore it may not be surprising to see real-name identification policy being enacted among Chinese rail travel. However, especially during China's holiday seasons, rail travel increases to levels unfathomable to the America airline industry and the question arises as to just how efficient rail identification will be, and if it will be upheld when travelers swell into the stations.