What are your greatest criticisms of the Chinese government and the current political climate?
The Chinese Communist Party puts keeping their political position first, above everything. Of course, this is the wish of many political parties around the world. For the Chinese government, the reality is that regardless of whether the people are satisfied or unsatisfied, the party’s position will always be secure. However, they are sometimes nervous, sometimes arrogant and this attitude has caused many tragedies.
What impact do you hope your Web activity will have on the political system?
Although China has many idealistic journalists/media figures, the media is still controlled and censored. It’s common knowledge that if a country is presented as more harmonious in the papers, in reality it’s less just. Although the Internet is controlled, when compared with traditional media, it better reflects reality. Although rather extreme views or false information may sometimes appear on the Internet, its only because traditional media fails to take the responsibilities it should take. The government might think Internet is really annoying, but I think it actually helps the government.
How do you think Internet-based social change is different on the Chinese-language Web versus the English-language Web?
The only difference is English-speaking countries treat the Internet as technology, while Chinese-speaking countries treat the Internet as medicine.
How did you decide the Internet was the best mouthpiece for your views? You already had a profile in traditional media, so why not use them?
It’s faster and more direct. It’s almost impossible to publish sensitive articles in traditional media. Even though others might delete your writing online, at least you can publish your opinion completely. I don’t write articles to oppose a specific party or government; my articles could criticize any party. I’m a writer. How can I call myself an intellectual if I can’t write and publish words as I wish?
Why do you feel you can get away with statements against the government that other people wouldn’t?
The atmosphere is not as terrifying as people in some Western countries may think. Sometime my articles do get censored, but besides those who advocate policy changes and democratic reform, the government actually doesn’t often control or censor writers. The writers here have become smarter: they know what to write and what not to write.
How have you dealt with resistance from your detractors, in particular the Chinese government?
They can only censor my articles, not my thoughts. I can accept this type of censorship. This is a game, and I’m playing by other people’s rules. I don’t think that the government disagrees with the ideas in the articles that were censored; they are afraid of the ideas spreading.
What real effects do you feel you are having on the political psyche of China’s youth?
I can’t really influence them in any way, but I hope that when the country is one day in their hands they will remember the past and take good care of this nation. In that world there is no capitalism, socialism, communism, or feudalism; there is also no Westernisation or Easternisation. There is only right and wrong, beauty and ugliness, good and evil.
Where will the most radical change brought about by the Web be felt in ten years?
I‘ll answer this question in 2013, when we have confirmation that the world still exists. Otherwise my answer now will be rubbish.
Han Han is represented by Peony Literary Agency.