Freedom of expression in China continues to be dogged by pervasive government censorship which seeks to repress outspoken voices and silence collective action. The authorities remain keen to have control over the nation’s information and fear that freedom of expression could pose a threat to their power. According to Index on Censorship’s 2014 report, “the increasing use of social media and rapid spread of information is putting pressure on the government that it has never felt before while the digital revolution is gaining more and more momentum. Democratic consciousness is rising in China and, with the state pursuing an oppressive agenda, cultural change from the bottom-up, rather than institutionalized change from the top-down, is necessary to pursue these principles.”

The panel will discuss the efforts by some traditional media to ‘voice the citizens’ and take more responsibility towards the public. Does the Internet offer enough opportunities for Chinese citizens and activists to air their concerns even though micro-blogging sites such as WeChat and Weibo enjoy massive popularity across the country (Weibo has 600 million registered accounts and 60 million active daily users)? How much the citizens’ and activists’ posts and the growth of unfettered online activism have led the authorities to rein in micro-blogging sites over recent years? Can Chinese media industry adopt a “more reflective approach” which considers the needs of individuals and individual identity groups and promotes cross-sector collaboration?

Organised in association with the Media Diversity Institute.