China Poll: Are Chinese Officials Afraid of the Internet?

By Ruoji Tang
Published: 2010-11-17

According to a survey carried out by the People's Forum Online, People's Daily Online, and Tencent, the answer is overwhelmingly yes.

In April, 5,943 internet users and 300 officials were asked to fill out questionnaires.

When users asked if they thought Chinese officials were afraid of the internet, over 70% said yes.
22% disagreed, and 8% were unsure.

70% of officials admitted having concerns about the impact the internet has on public opinion.

But is official anxiety about internet opinion a good thing? 88% of users think so. 


300 officials were also asked, "What worries you the most about internet monitoring of politics?"

The responses overwhelmingly expressed concerns internet exposure might have on their career.

60% are worried about work-related mistakes being exposed, and having a negative impact on their career. 
28% are worried about details of their private life being leaked and having a negative impact on their career.
17% are worried that biased commentary will turn public opinion against them. 
16% are worried that misunderstandings and poor reporting will turn public opinion against them.
11% are afraid of being blackmailed with internet exposure of private details and wrongdoings.

Users also voiced concerns about the dangers of a powerful Internet and "Human Flesh Search Engines." When asked what the biggest shortcomings of Internet influence on political affairs were, users offered the following responses:

58% of participants say that if the technology is not properly regulated, it can destroy reputations and violate privacy.
23% say that internet opinions are often unreasonable and lack depth of thought, and are prone to knee jerk reactions.
22% say that internet opinion generates mob mentality, and may lead to social instability.
16% say that government insiders can use the internet to manipulate public sentiment.

Links and Sources
: Survey results (Chinese)