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Well-Known Chinese Leftist Advocates Militarized Internet

A prominent Chinese nationalist has called for China to take tighter control of the country's Internet in part by building an online army of civilians to monitor the Web.

Zhang Hongliang (張宏良), a Maoist opinion leader, put together [zh] an elaborate plan of action on his blog on May 17, 2013 soon after the “Seven Speak-Nots“ policy, a list of seven forbidden subjects for discussion in schools and online in China, was revealed. The post has since been deleted.

Political liberals in China have promoted the Internet as a platform for public deliberation and political negotiation since the landmark Sun Zhigang incident in 2003. That case saw the abolition of custody and repatriation in China, which allowed police to detain people without a proper permit and return them to where they legally could live and work, after the death of 27-year-old university graduate Sun Zhigang in an official detention center caused massive outrage online.

The Great Firewall of China. Image from Digital Trends.

The Great Firewall of China. Image from Digital Trends.

Even extreme nationalists have made use of the Internet for political mobilization, such as a national anti-Japanese protest in September 2012.

But in the past few weeks, the government has undertaken a new censorship campaign that has removed the accounts of numerous political liberals from popular microblogging site Sina Weibo.

Below are the four main arguments Zhang makes in his 10,000-word article [zh]:

第一,新浪等各大门户网站为外资企业,有美国等西方国家垄断资本控制,在客观上与中国形成利益对立。

Firstly, Sina and other major portal sites are registered as foreign corporations and controlled by monopolized capital in the hands of the United States and other western countries. Their interests are thus in opposition to China.

第二,各大门户网站的把关编辑和关键岗位人员,都是南方报系这个当今传媒界“黄埔军校”培养出来的,是中国历史上规模最大的“网络伪军”。这是当今国内外反共反华势力最为自豪和自信的地方。

Secondly, most of the editors or content operators of major portals are coming from Nanfang Media Group, which is like a “military academy” for online media. Both domestic and overseas anti-communist and anti-Chinese forces are very proud of the base.

第三,[…]中国网管部门长期被推行西方政治制度和西方普世价值的领导人所控制,采取强制政策把反左和反对“文革余孽”作为主要任务,打着反左和反对“文革余孽”的旗号,妖魔化人民革命,妖魔化人民领袖,妖魔化社会主义,妖魔化民族文化和民族精神,支持汉奸文化,纵容反共反华势力、打压左翼爱国力量。

Thirdly, Internet authorities in China are under the control of those who advocate for western political systems and universal values. Their mission is to crackdown on those with left-leaning beliefs and Cultural Revolution believers by demonizing people's revolution, people's leaders, socialism, and national culture and spirit and by supporting traitor culture, indulging anti-communist and anti-Chinese forces, as well as repressing leftist patriot forces.

第四,“中美国”已从经济领域延伸到网络领域,形成了美国网军司令部统一操控中美两国网络舆论的危险状况。“中美国”是美国哈佛大学教授弗格森对“中国生产,美国消费”这种新型经济共同体的称谓,我们把它称之为“殖民经济循环圈”。“中美国”是新自由主义经济改革造成的,后来美国又试图通过中国政治体制改革,把“中美国”由经济领域推向政治领域,实现“中美共治”的新型政治共同体。目前在网络领域,由美国主导的“中美共治”已经形成。除了上述三个方面之外,形成“中美共治”的最主要力量,就是由“黑头发黑眼睛外国人”组成的庞大水军。

Fourthly, “Chimerica” has been extended from the economic domain to the Internet. The online opinion headquarters in the US is now manipulating both Chinese and US Internet opinion. “Chimerica” is a notion conceptualized by Harvard professor Niall Ferguson to describe the new economy of “made in China and consume in the US”. However, we call such a relationship “colonial economic cycle”. “Chimerica” is a result of the neoliberal economic reform, and the US later tries to extend such a relationship from the economic to the political domain to create a polity based on the “co-governance of China and the US”. Now in the Internet domain, the “co-governance of China and the US” led by the US has already been shaped. The major driving force is the large number of online opinion navy [meaning paid opinion leaders] formed by “foreigners who have black hair and black eyes”.

Based on his above analysis, Zhang put forward the following proposal:

第一,对各大门户网站实行本土化管理,或者国有化,或者中国化,收回网站控制权。此前我们多次指出,信息时代,网站是特殊企业,关乎国家安全和国防安全,绝不能像一般企业那样由外资控制或与外资合作经营。目前各大门户网站都在海外上市,可以采取获得控股权或控制权的办法,把各大门户网站变成中国控制的企业。获得控股权是指通过企业外部的股权并购来控制企业;获得控制权是指通过企业内部建立党团组织、工会组织以及员工持股会等,控制企业政治方向。总之,一定要像重视军队那样重视门户网站,把所有权牢牢控制在中国手中。军队不能由外资控制或者与外资合作经营,网站同样不能由外资控制或与外资合资经营。

Firstly, major portal websites have to be governed under domestic policy. Or we can regain the control by nationalization. We have pointed out many times in the past that in the information age, the Internet is a very distinctive business that affects our national and military security. It should not be controlled by foreign controlled capital or run by the foreign capital cooperation model. Now that major portal websites are listed in overseas stock market. We could regain China's holding through merger and acquisition. To regain China's control over the portal sites, we have to set up party branches, labour union branches, and worker stake-holding organizations within the corporations. We have to manage portal websites like our military. The military should not fall into the hands of foreign capital or be managed under the foreign capital-cooperation mode. The same principal should be applied to the Internet.

第二,调整网管队伍,保证网络管理权掌握在马克思主义者和爱国主义官员手中。[…] 此前中国网络舆论导向的问题,实际上是管理部门的问题,是管理部门推行西方普世价值的管理导向决定的,只要网络管理部门能够坚持十八大精神和习近平总书记系列讲话,中国网络就一定能够成为社会主义和爱国主义的舆论阵地。

Secondly, rearrange the Internet administrative team and make sure that the task of Internet governance should be in the hands of those officials who believe in Marxism and patriotism. […] The problem with Chinese online public opinion is caused by the Internet authorities whose decisions are based on western universal values. When Internet management authorities insist and act on Secretary Xi Jinping's speeches and the spirit of the Chinese Communist Party's 18 Congress, the Chinese Internet will gear public opinion towards socialism and patriotism.

第三,发挥中国共产党领导和人民群众监督相结合的政治优势,向各大门户网站派驻工作组和群众监督委员会,形成自上而下和自下而上的双重监督机制,保证网站的爱国主义方向和国家的政治安全、国防安全。

Thirdly, manifest political advantage by combining the communist party's leadership with mass monitoring by setting up working teams and people's monitoring committees in portal websites. So that the monitoring is both top-down and bottom-up. This is to ensure all the portal websites are in alignment with patriotism and serving national, political, and military security proposes.

第四,组建军民相结合的现代网军,形成网络社会的现代国防。网络时代是大众民主的时代,大众民主取代精英民主,是21世纪人类社会发展的根本潮流。[…] 而中国以往的全民皆兵时代和大众民主运动,是我们组建现代网军的天然优势,是新时代群众路线的主要内容,与此相联系的大众政治文明,也是中华民族崛起的历史依据。只要我们真正坚持群众路线,网军时代就是中华民族复兴的时代。

Fourthly, build a modern online army by bringing together the military force and people so as to form a modern defense system of the network society. The age of the Internet is an era of mass democracy and mass democracy should replace elite democracy. This is the developing trend of the 21 century human society. […] In China, the history of everyone being a solider and mass democratic movement has given us the advantage of building the modern online army, which is the substance of massive participation in the new era, towards a civilization of mass politics. This is the historical path of the rise of the Chinese nation. If we stick to the principle of the mass, the era of the online army is the era of the revival of the Chinese nation. [Note: the revival of the Chinese nation is the slogan or the "China dream" of President Xi Jinping's leadership.]

第五,借鉴去年美国和俄罗斯分别制订《爱国法案》和《叛国罪法》的经验,尽快制订与《反分裂法》相适应的《反汉奸法》,恢复宪法中“惩办卖国贼”的相关条款,把党要管网、群众管网与依法治网结合起来,建立保护爱国主义的法治基础。

Fifthly, borrow from the experience of the US and Russia with legislation of “Patriot Act” and “Treason Law“, we should legislate an “anti-Chinese traitor law” which is in the same spirit of the “anti-separation law”. We should restore the clause regarding “punishing the traitors” in our Constitution and set the patriotic legal ground for party, people, and legal governance of the Internet.

The central government's policy towards Internet government is under the so-called “dictator's dilemma”. On the one hand, an open Internet is the essential foundation of the information society and the central government has established its legitimacy by actively responding to online public opinion.

On the other hand, citizens have made use of the Internet to build a consensus for liberal political reform and by doing so, they have put the power of the one-party regime at risk.

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