Tuesday, 4 September 2012

The Power of Weibo

A friend eagerly told me today about the power of weibo, or the Chinese version of Twitter.

She believes this is the best way for people to voice their opinions, particularly criticisms of officials and using this form of social media to make them accountable.

A recent example she cited was about a party official from the Yuexiu district government in Guangzhou who got into a physical and verbal fight with a flight attendant.

Fang Daguo, 41, was boarding a China Southern Airlines flight from Hefei, Anhui province to Guangzhou with his wife last Wednesday.

He allegedly confronted flight attendant Zhou Yumeng because she had told the couple to put their luggage away in the overhead compartment but did not help them.

Zhou posted her side of the incident on Weibo, saying that Fang verbally threatened her, saying he had good relations with her boss, and that he bruised her arm after he grabbed it. She also cried in the incident.

In her post, she said she did not want financial compensation, but an apology.

And as expected, he said nothing.

Chinese netizens or internet users were all angered after reading Zhou's version of the events and demanded Fang apologize.

But now we hear the ending of the story -- China Daily is reporting that Fang has now been suspended and that he, a political commissar for the Yuexiu district Armed Forces Department, is being investigated.

There were rumours that Zhou was fired from her job, but China Southern Airlines says she still works for the company.

It's victories like these that make netizens excited about their ability to influence the government and make its officials more accountable for their actions.

In Fang's case, if the allegations are true, it's just another official who thinks it's beneath him to take orders from someone else and believes guanxi will save him.

That kind of arrogance is exactly what the Chinese hate the most.

And they will make sure these officials get what they think they deserve -- a public flogging online.

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