I think those technology platforms [the internet and social media] constantly put the government on trial. And every event, every policy they make, people will laugh about it, and they will make fun about it.
This is amazing for the younger generation.
-- Ai Weiwei
Artist and political activist Ai Weiwei explains the powerful effects of social media on political freedom in China. His own enormously popular blog and twitter feed, through which he repeatedly challenged Beijing for human rights abuses, were shut down by Chinese authorities in 2009.
Free information and communication on Internet is forbidden in China. So you're facing so-called a great firewall to block all the major international Internet servers. And within China you have 100,000 Internet police just sitting there delete all blog or whatever the information they think we cannot appreciate about. But still, the Chinese twitter and Chinese blog still offers a certain kind of freedom this nation never had before. And also, daily when the event's happening people start to make comments on it, which build up a very strong platform for civil opinions and discussions, which already completely change the landscape of the political situation. I think those technology platform constantly put the government on trial. And every event, every policy they make will be people will laugh about it, and they will make fun about it. This is amazing for younger generation.
I think Internet technology can lead more freedom in everywhere, especially in China. A state like China or other authoritarian society, to maintain this kind of control is to censor and to block the freedom of expression. Once that is not possible, then to maintain this kind of control is impossible. So obviously Internet is the answer to achieve a civil society or to get young people to be engaged, to be involved and to be informed, and to freely associate and communicate with other people. This is truly a miracle gift from the human struggle. I think it is so beautiful, and I think it's beyond the imagination.
Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler, Elizabeth Rodd, and Jason Gots