A New Approach to Understanding the Contemporary China (5)

We are focusing on examining an emerging social power which represents the rise of anti-globalization movement. This kind of social power is always shifting its shape, density and capacity based on different politico-economic climates and social conditions. Of course, it is possible to measure this power by following the quantitative method mentioned above: to produce lots of statistic figures related to the existing of the social power. However, the figures can only indicate the “status quo” of the power sustaining in a very short time. To produce complex quantitative data is, in our research context, not a right approach to constructing a qualitative understanding on the current ongoing development of the social power for common people’s voices.

Here is an alternative approach to discovering the significance of the practices of the independent media activism as an influential social power developing in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

We will get start with revealing and analyzing the unique characteristics of the practices of the independent media movement in the Chinese societies. Comparing the characteristics of the movement practices with the Western counterparts’ and discovering the hidden connection between the contemporary social movement and the Chinese traditional thought – Daoism are the next two important steps. There is no doubt that Chinese society as a whole has been impacted by the domination of globalized capitalist economy and Western scientific civilization. However, the Chinese is still keeping its unique thinking logic and its clear attitude toward the contemporary changing world in a distinctive historical context. This can be evidenced by the fact that a “dialectical adaptive logic” has been embedded, developed and working in Chinese people’s mind, influencing the development of Chinese society from past to now. The form of this special logic for life is made by the long-term feudalism of the ancient China and the Westerns’ “colonization” with the Communist ruling over the modern China that the Chinese have never had the opportunity to develop their socio-political sense “to live their own life”.

Today, the brain of the West has dominated most of the academic studies on contemporary China, seeing the Chinese as the “follower”, ignoring the existence of the distinctive logic for harmonizing the hard social reality with the “to-be-oneself” idealism of the Chinese people. Therefore, how to open up a new approach to consider this “home-grown” logic is a crucial thing. Through our study on the independent media in Hong Kong and Taiwan, we discover that certain Chinese traditional thoughts can play a role in explaining various social phenomena emerging in the contemporary Chinese society, meanwhile the logic is fully considered.

Finally, a completely new theory – “Open Structure” is to be presented not only for embodying the logic’s existentiality but also for interpreting the close relationship between the Chinese society, the characteristics of the media movement practices and Daoism. Through the theory, a bold attempt to examine the significant reflection of today’s Chinese people on the nature of the globalized civilization by reconnecting the ancient thinking with the contemporary reality will be realized. Also, the theory is anticipated to help open up an advanced construction of an open knowledge structure beyond existing East-West epistemological perspectives, on which the next stage of human civilization for all people can be based.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

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A New Approach to Understanding the Contemporary China (4)

For contemporary media studies, many researchers tend to develop their understanding on media with the methodology for social science: carrying out lots of works for producing “useful statistic figures”, such as the numbers of media members, the page views of the website, etc. for measuring the social influence of media in order to build up the “validity” and “reliability” of their research. According to the so-called “scientific” data, they are able to “objectively” argue that a significant role of media in, for example, changing the developing tendency of society is justified. This is a typical process of following the research approach to understanding the nature of various kinds of social phenomena. Undoubtedly, this approach can contribute to human knowledge development and civilization advancement, helping construct a complex thinking apparatus for science. However, it puts the statistic and pragmatic reasoning at the peak of the human knowledge building. Difficulties would be unavoidably produced in the research process when sticking with this limited methodology because all social phenomena, whether they occur in the East or the West, are always in the “becoming” based on different space-time conditions. It is impossible to establish a fixed, rigid theory to end up our understanding on society by relying on the temporary data as evidence for any knowledge justification.

Therefore, we have a concrete reason not to use the methodology mentioned because we view our research subject: the independent media in Hong Kong and Taiwan as a kind of people’s collective activism being practiced in “where we are”, not in the outer unrelated. The practices of the independent media activism as part of anti-globalization movement cannot be simply seen as an unmoved social phenomenon, but should be defined as a humanist demand that is developing in the world “connected with us”. The demand of the social activists emphasized in the movement is closely related to everyone’s life because for the time being no one can escape from this unequal and injustice globalized society. This is the “becoming” of a desirable civilization for all: every member of the globalized society should be encouraged to publicly express their own opinion for a more idealistic development of globalization. To hear and understand these people’s thinking based on a positive attitude toward the fundamental media movement is our responsibility. Here, we therefore hold a clear standpoint: we do not want to carry out a typical academic research on the independent media movement as the “others’ noise” in the social, but want to launch a meaningful research with the anti-globalization movement contributed by the Chinese independent media. To follow this logic, we refuse to use any quantificational method for constructing this study. If not, the original goal of this research – not to help strengthen the still image of the “developing” China but to discover how the people in the Chinese realize their dissenting movements by using their own way – would be derailed.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

A New Approach to Understanding the Contemporary China (3)

In the Conclusion, text research with theories and interview content analyses will be exercised again. For justifying the Daoist characteristics of the practices of the media activism in the Chinese societies, we will establish certain thinking approaches to revealing what spiritual elements in Daoism are embodied in the practices. After that, a new approach to understanding the present and future tendency of the socio-political development of Chinese society in globalization will be opened up.

On the other hand, in Chapter Three and Four qualitative analysis is, also, one of the major research method to be used for the case studies of the Hong Kong and Taiwan independent media movements. The method is twofold: first, the representative founders of “Inmediahk.net” and “Coolloud.org” are to be interviewed that the first-hand qualitative data of the independent media movements are therefore obtained. Here, the qualitative data will reflect three main aspects of the nature of the media activisms: (1) the substantial ground of the independency of the media movement practices; (2) the distinctive approaches developed by the media activists in Hong Kong and Taiwan; (3) the core value or belief held by the activists for the practices. We will discuss the data in detail with the method of qualitative analysis for the production of the two case studies. After this study process, certain significant point of views on justifying the Daoist characteristics of the independent media movements are to be presented. The existence of these distinctive characteristics of the media movement practices suggests that the anti-globalization movement itself is being developed not only with globalization but also with localization. Moreover, the characteristic practices evidence that the social activists in the Chinese actually have given their exclusive feedback to the current extreme development of the globalized world by conforming to a “localized” thinking logic that is totally dissimilar to the Westerns’.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

A New Approach to Understanding the Contemporary China

One of the purposes of this study is to unveil and analyze the human problems brought by the negative effects of economic globalization. These include the rise of global capitalism, the deterioration of the operation of representative democracy in the developed realm and the widespread development of anti-globalization movement – the independent media activisms in the Chinese societies. Through the case studies of the Hong Kong and Taiwan independent media, some unique characteristics of the media movement practices are to be discovered: the media runnings not only embody the spirit of Daoism, but also help open up a new approach for us to understand the significant role of the Chinese traditional thought in influencing the contemporary development of Chinese society. For this humanist study, we will use two main research methods: (1) text research (for examining the historical context and relative theories of anti-globalization movement); (2) qualitative analysis, including (a) to interview the major founders of “Inmediahk.net” and “Coolloud.org”; (b) to analyze the interview contents as the first-hand information of the independent media research that the distinctive characteristics of the media movement practices are contained and reflected.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

Globalization and the Media Activism (5)

Nowadays, “Inmediahk.net” and “Coolloud.org” are the most representative independent media organizations in Hong Kong and Taiwan. However, they do not develop their media activism as the American IMC’s. Why? As mentioned, a lack of public understanding of “independent media” as a social movement practice in the Chinese societies is one of the major factors. Against this background, the Chinese independent media would face more substantial challenges than their counterpart media in the West. Based on this understanding, it can be anticipated that various kinds of new models or approaches to the media social activism conforming with the actual social reality are to be experimented and applied. Besides, Chinese people seem to be more inactive and “conservative” in reflecting on the social significance of social movement practice. This image is probably related to the long history of Chinese traditional culture, which contains a strong education of moderate political consciousness contributed by Confucianism. No matter how difficult it is to carry out actions and communications in the public, “Inmediahk.net” and “Coolloud.org” both have developed their own approaches to social movement practice with unique characteristics that are befitting for the present socio-political climate of Hong Kong and Taiwan under the rapid growth of Chinese economy nowadays. To sum up, it can be argued that the independent media movements in Hong Kong and Taiwan would help facilitate a social power formation, stimulating a political and social enlightenment of the Chinese in the near future.

In this study, some theories related to globalization and anti-globalization movement will be firstly discussed. Then, the case studies on “Inmediahk.net” and “Coolloud.org” as the most representative independent media activisms in the Chinese will be examined. Through the case studies, the present situation of the media movement practices in Hong Kong and Taiwan under the “rise of China” is to be revealed and analyzed. Also, the interesting questions – what are the unique characteristics of the media movement practices? What are the reasonings that can help us discover the hidden relationship between the activisms and some Chinese traditional thoughts in the contemporary development of Chinese society? – will be replied and concluded in the final chapter “Conclusion” of this academic work.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

Globalization and the Media Activism (2)

As we can see, globalization alters its shape according to the evolution of dominative power, bringing us a living circumstance under various crises, including the economic and the social ones. Ulrich Beck argues that profit making and social problems production are always interrelated: “In advanced modernity the social production of wealth is systematically accompanied by the social production of risks[1]. In today’s “risk society”, the positive aspects of globalization, such as human knowledge popularization and global unbundling of wealth accumulation, and the negative aspects of globalization, like the rapid rise of political and religious conflicts as well as terrorism, are all to be real and present. However, the negative globalization is usually ignored by the so-called “globalism”[2] or “neo-liberalism” proponents. Beck maintains that “globalism sees everything as economically determined and determinable. Any political, social or cultural matters are subsumed under economic (and particularly neoliberal economic) paradigms”[3]. The “globalists” are so keen to emphasize the “advantages” of the development of (economic) globalization praising the values of capitalism, consumerism and utilitarianism. This can be the first image of globalization structured in people’s knowledge.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

[1] “Accordingly, the problems and conflicts relating to distribution in a society of scarcity overlap with the problems and conflicts that arise from the production, definition and distribution of techno-scientifically produced risks.” See: Beck, Ulrich (1992). Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity. London: SAGE. p. 19.

[2] According to the definition of “globalism” given by Beck: “By globalism, I mean the view that the world market eliminates or supplants political action – that is, the ideology of rule by the world market, the ideology of neoliberalism.” See: Beck, Ulrich (2001). What Is Globalization? USA: Blackwell. p. 9.

[3] See: Mooney, Annabelle; Evans, Betsy (2007). Globalization: The Key Concepts. Oxon: Routledge. p. 116. Also, “Beck rejects globalism, the ideology of neoliberalism which declares that the world market has eliminated the need for or possibility of political action. Globalism touts a crushingly simplistic explanation of globality, reducing the complex process of globalization to one dimension, the economic. All other domains – ecology, culture, politics, civil society – are represented as being determined by the logic of the market. Beck repeatedly characterizes globalism as a ‘thought-virus’ that has penetrated all the major social institutions, not least political parties and the media.” See: Aldridge, Alan (2005). The Market. Cambridge: Polity. p. 130.

The Contemporary Development of the Chinese Societies (4)

Before the handover of Hong Kong, China had got involved in the political, economic and social development of the British colony. For example, the pro-Beijing political party “Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB民主建港協進聯盟)” was formally established in 1992. After 1997, the DAB had been developed as an influential party, having a certain percentage of votes in some representative elections of the Legislative Council and the District Council of the SAR. Nowadays, the DAB is the biggest party in the political circle of Hong Kong[1]. On the other side, the Democratic Party (民主黨) and other pan-democratic groupings, which were commonly supported by the populace before the handover, have become the minorities in the local political spectrum. Obviously, this change is related to the population increase of the Chinese in Hong Kong. One of the contributors of the fact might be the long-term one-way immigration policy for Chinese people: a fixed quota for the mainlanders to go to Hong Kong for permanent settlement with the so-called “one-way permit (單程通行證)” everyday[2]. This immigration policy has incurred population explosion of the city, meanwhile the influence of the Chinese on Hong Kong politics expanding.

There is no doubt the politico-social development of Hong Kong and Taiwan is impacted by China nowadays because the Chinese Central Government has a clear consciousness of directing the two Chinese societies’ development as “part of China” through any top-down interventions. For this, the grassroots, dissenters and social activists in the two societies are not to be absent from various political campaigns and social movements not only for human rights and democracy but for economic freedom and anti-globalization. The establishment and running of the independent media “Inmediahk.net” and “Coolloud.org” is significant because it shows Chinese people, like the West’s, have started to carry out their activisms by running the libertarian media organizations as a kind of social movement practice, embodying a humanistic spirit of respecting diversified values, opening up a public space for people’s voices, encouraging locals to be concern with political, economic and social issues at a global level and facilitating the making of a substantial social power to fight against the dominative Establishment enshrined in globalization.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

[1] According to the newest (2012) statistics for the seats of the political parties in Hong Kong SAR’s councils, the DAB holds 10 seats out of 60 seats in the Legislative Council and 118 seats out of 412 seats in the District Councils, showing the DAB is the only single party holding the greatest percentage of the councils’ seats in the SAR government. Retrieved November 1, 2011, from the official websites of the Legislative Council and the District Council: http://www.legco.gov.hk/general/chinese/members/yr08-12/biographies.htm; and http://www.districtcouncils.gov.hk/

[2] According to “Exploring the Hong Kong Population Policy from the One-Way Permit System”: “the one-way permit scheme has played a significant role in controlling the immigrants from the Mainland to Hong Kong since the 1980s. According to the scheme, Hong Kong government agreed to take the responsibility for the rights to ‘realize the family reunion based on the economic and social capacities of Hong Kong society’. …the Hong Kong and Chinese governments agreed to set a fixed quota (150 persons per day) for Chinese immigrants (to settle down in Hong Kong). The Chinese government has the discretionary power to decide who can immigrate to Hong Kong… From 1983 to 2006, over 960,000 people had immigrated to Hong Kong from China through the one-way permit scheme. That figure was 70% of the total immigrant number and 14% of the total population of Hong Kong in 2006.” See: Bacon-Shone, John (白景崇), Lam, Kit Chun (Lin Jiezhen林潔珍), Yip, Siu Fai (Ye Zhaohui葉兆輝) (2008). Exploring the Hong Kong Population Policy from the One-Way Permit System (從單程證制度探索香港的人口政策). Hong Kong: Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre. pp. 4-15.

The Contemporary Development of the Chinese Societies (3)

However, Hong Kong and Taiwan are at the same time bearing stronger political and economic influence from the Mainland, despite the room for social activism existed. During the late 1980s, the development of Taiwan politics was controlled by the KMT. In 1996, the first democratic election for President was held, marking the end of the party-state (黨國) period of the political development history on the Island. This event is commonly seen as a milestone of the democratization of Taiwan. Before this election, Democratic Progressive Party, DPP (民主進步黨) had been established and developing gradually because the ban on forming political parties was suspended by the KMT in 1987. Eventually, in 2000 the DPP’s candidate Chen Shuei-Bian (Chen Shuibian陳水扁) won the presidential election. This was the first time the DPP became the governing party in Taiwan. Through the totally eight-year presidency of Chen, various “desinicization (去中國化)” policies were made. For instance, “our nation” (我國), a term being used to indicate the complete territories (including the Mainland) of the Republic of China, was amended as “China” (中國) in high school textbooks; the name of state enterprises was all changed from the “Chinese” to the “Taiwanese”. At the time, the political ideology of Taiwan independence was in its heyday and the local or native consciousness of Taiwanese was further strengthened on the Island. However, a historical turning point in the progression of Taiwan politics was emerged: in 2008, Ma Ying-jeou (Ma Yingjiu馬英九), the KMT’s presidential candidate, defeated the DPP’s Hsieh Chang-ting (Xie Changting謝長廷) to become the President. After taking his post, Ma immediately announced the state policy of “no unification, no independence, and no use of military force”, stopping the further development of the Taiwanese consciousness. Then, Ma’s government started to implement a series of Cross-Strait cooperative policies, such as signing the “Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA)”[1] with China, allowing the students from the Mainland to study in Taiwan’s universities, reducing the waiting time for the naturalization of Chinese spouses as citizen, giving the naturalized the right to work, allowing Chinese people to organized travel by oneself as the “free-tour (自由行)” in Taiwan and suggesting to sign the “Cross-Strait Peace Agreement”[2] with the Beijing government. The implement of these policies strongly implied the KMT government wanted to rely on China for economic growth through establishing an amicable relationship with China, showing that the crucial role of the Mainland in directing the future change of Taiwanese society is more concrete.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

[1] For the details of “Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement”, please refer to the following hyperlink. Retrieved November 1, 2011, from the official website of Ministry of Economic Affairs, the R.O.C.:

http://www.moea.gov.tw/Mns/populace/news/wHandNews_File.ashx?news_id=19723&serial_no=6

[2] “Mr. Ma Ying-jeou gave the suggestion of signing the Cross-Strait Peace Agreement with China before the presidential election in 2008 as a main political promise to end the historical confrontation between Taiwan and China. Mr. Ma argued that the premise of signing the agreement is depended on both China and Taiwan practicing ‘no unification, no independence, and no use of military force’ while China must remove the missile deployments targeting on the island because Taiwan is unwilling to negotiate with China under the military threat.” See: Wang, Kun-Yii (Wang Kunyi王崑義) (2009). Cross-Strait Peace Agreement: Theory, Challenges and Discussions (兩岸和平協議:理論、問題與思考). Review of Global Politics, 26, p. 69.

The Contemporary Development of the Chinese Societies

According to the discussion in Section Two, independent media is a kind of social movement practice with the use of technology, such as the Internet, that is originated from Western society. As mentioned, the main purpose of practicing independent media movement is to break down the current tendency of media monopoly supported by political and economic powers and to encourage more people to “speak out”, having their say on socio-political issues against the mainstream media’s in the public. In the West, there were many academicians and theorists who had focused on criticizing the dominance of the so-called “mass media” in the capitalist world. For example, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer and Herbert Marcuse were all the well-known critical theorists of the Frankfurt School[1] in the early-mid twentieth century, arguing the extreme development of so-called culture industry had caused the homogenization of human thinking conforming to the capitalist logic. Some activists and campaigners are inspired by the Leftist’s theory and try to do more to reverse the ongoing problematic situation nowadays. Here, internet independent media can be seen as a derivative of the Leftist’s, as a convenient, low-cost and practical form of social movement practice focusing on the media monopoly issue in the contemporary.

Since the Westernization, Chinese societies have been sharing the same problematic made by the capitalist mass culture. Therefore, in Hong Kong and Taiwan a group of social activists and intellectuals have started to carry out their own social movements by using the Internet since the late 1990s. It is noteworthy there are social, political and historical factors contributed to the form of this humanistic phenomenon of social movement practice.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

[1] “The Frankfurt School’s criticism of the mass communication media was that they hamper the road to such a Utopian society and that the media stand in the way of change. By selectively presenting reality, including aspects of culture, education and entertainment (in which bourgeois values enjoy priority) the media confirm and support dominant capitalist ideologies and thus maintain the status quo at the cost of the working class, which is represented by the masses. …critical theorists are concerned about the media’s ideological manipulation of the mass and the utilization and exploitation of the media by capitalist considerations…” See: Fourie, Pieter J (2001). Media Studies: Institutions, Theories and Issues. South Africa: Juta Education. pp. 243-244.

What is Independent Media (3)

A person may structure his/her opinion when having read and digested a news report interesting. This individual opinion represents a personal stance with unique understanding and feeling on the content of the report. The case of “Small Wolf” is a good example: after reading the U-Beat Magazine’s, he did not agree with the content and thought that there must be some wrongs in it. For this, he actively did an independent interview with Ng, discovering the U-Beat’s garbled Ng’s words. After that, “Small Wolf” wanted to share his new discovery through the internet independent media “Inmediahk.net”. By using the media website as an interactive platform to practice a direct communication excluding any possible interference from the Establishment, he became a “citizen reporter”, receiving a lot of positive feedback from other “netizens” (or “cybercitizens”). Here, the practice of the citizen reporting with the independent media facilitates a breaking down of the hedge of so-called journalistic professionalism because the non-dominant media that empowers people to express their concern with the uncertain social reality is well performed in the public. Through the information metabolism, the alternative grassroots voices would be further heard and strengthened that would be a social power to direct the public opinion, to reform the general media’s reporting culture nowadays.

In addition, the practice of citizen reporting through independent media embodies a spirit of respect for the freedom of speech, encouraging people to comment on socio-political issues openly as a manifestation of knowledge democracy against the mass media’s knowledge homogenization. For this issue, Ip discovers “Wikipedia.org” on public deliberation on knowledge is also a good example parallel with the spirit mentioned above:

“I am impressed by the operating principle of ‘Wikipedia.org’ on public deliberation on knowledge. The knowledge content shown on the ‘Wikipedia.org’ website can be continuously enriched and refined by people’s enthusiastic exchange of ideas and public debates. The ‘good-manner users’ of the internet encyclopedia also accept that it is important to carefully deliberate the knowledge clauses posted on the media platform and to respect cultural diversity and the minorities’ voices for knowledge clauses building…. The practice of the deliberation is the basis of so-called deliberative democracy. Therefore, there is a possibility, and also a challenge, of running an independent media to embody the democratic in a new era.”[1]

To sum up, it is critically important to ensure that all people have the same opportunity to express their ideas and opinions in the public because this conforms to the embodiment of a democratic value – everyone should be equal, having the rights to communicate their thinking and experiences on the “ideal society” with others. Therefore, against the background of the monopolization of media space to operate an internet-based independent media can be seen as a practical approach to the social movement practice as new media activism, opening up a significant room for more people to reflect on the nature of the contemporary and to trumpet their social concerns. All information posted on the independent media contributed by the enthusiasts on the net is valuable, evidencing the substantial practice of direct communication between different peoples around the world and the further deepening of human freedom in globalization.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

[1] Ibid., p. 41.

No Relationship with the Cultural Difference between the East and the West (10)

In conclusion, through the above analysis we recognize that there are three essential characteristics shared by the media movement practices of “Inmediahk.net” and “Coolloud.org” in Hong Kong and Taiwan. This recognition provides us with an opportunity to open up a new approach to reconstructing our knowledge of the socio-political structure of the modern “China”. The first discovered characteristic of the practices proves that the two media activisms do not “fall behind” in the present trend of social movement development on the scene of globalization: the media’s social actions are closely integrated with people’s living not only in the local but also in the global. The other two characteristics: “no label” and “having no relationship with cultural difference between the East and the West” are both fresh discoveries that allow us to understand the present “China” in a new sense. In fact, the future development of the “China” heavily depends on how Chinese people appropriately position their complex identity and traditional intellectual heritage in order to (re)construct a collective or cohesive historical consciousness belonging to the whole Chinese society. This thinking for linking up the “new” with the “old”: an attempt to reveal the profound relationship between the present “China” and some of the Chinese traditional thoughts is significant that would help us mend the “civilization crack” made by the Wars, clarify the social position of the ancient heritage in the modern and rethink the civilization problems endured by the Chinese nowadays. Relative contents will be completely presented in the next chapter of Conclusion.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

No Relationship with the Cultural Difference between the East and the West (9)

“The Internet cannot supersede the social position of independent media. However, it has a role in facilitating social movement practice and furthering the positive development of local media circumstance. The case of ‘Inmediahk.net’ is an example reflecting the embodiment of internet media activism. Nowadays, independent media and the Internet are not the new things (for social movement practice). In fact, independent media is not the ‘leader’, but an organic part of social movement practice which helps create some significant moments for realizing a social activistic spirit, producing various kinds of political relationship between people that generate a practical approach to social development. This is generally ignored by the public, waiting for us to discover. [1]

According to Ip’s thinking, the major aim of running an internet independent media is to “catalyze” a possible change of the socio-political reality encountered by global/local citizens, providing an alternative media approach for people to understand more about the “real” in order to terminate the monopolization of media space in the social dimension, deconstructing the ideological restriction on the development of human’s intellectual in modernity. The practice of the media movement helps construct a kind of substantive public opinion on the Internet for sustaining a social concern environment through encouraging people’s spontaneous journalistic actions, such as reporting social issues or political debates. The point is everyone can promote their unique ideas and point of views publicly. Ideally, the social intrusive influence of mass media supported by world governments and global capitalists would be “neutralized” by independent media’s activism.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

[1] See: Ip, Iam-Chong (2007). Small Media, Big Issue. Hong Kong: Step forward. p. 96.

No Relationship with the Cultural Difference between the East and the West (8)

Therefore, we can see the independent media in the Chinese develop their own strategies to tackle the challenges coming from the political powers that are influenced by the long history of feudalism and the civilization of the centralization of power of Chinese politics. Although “Inmediahk.net” and “Coolloud.org” are working under a relatively close social circumstance, they are still doing their independent media works by trying to extend their social influence based on the distinctive historical legacy in the East. The ingredients of the visible and invisible pressure, including the Communist China’s one-party dictatorship as the scar on the people’s spirit, and even the burden of the intellectual traditions like Confucianism and others, directly cause the Chinese to be more conservative that they are so reluctant to face any radical change of the status quo of the “China”. Against this background, capitalism, renamed as the “socialism with Chinese characteristics” in the Mainland from the West, has become the only approach for Chinese people to settling their social value allowed by the ruling since the 1980s. As we can see, the social atmosphere of not only the parts but the whole Chinese society is impacted by the ideologies of materialism and commercialism that is unfavorable to social movement practice. Notwithstanding, the media activisms in Hong Kong and Taiwan both show the Chinese are not the “outsiders” of the development of globalization. The “China”, like other “developed societies” in the world, is also the land nurturing the evolvement of the internet social movement with a solidarity spirit against political power as part of anti-globalization movement contributed by people’s goodwill for well-being.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

No Relationship with the Cultural Difference between the East and the West (7)

The Mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau are all the major parts of the Chinese society, which can be seen as a single “Greater China (大中華區域)” or “Cultural China (文化中國)”, sharing their involvement in making the complicated structure of Chinese history. The vicissitudinous development of the “China” is based on the sudden changing of political climate and social reality on the ideological separate land. As mentioned above, independent media is a form of social movement practice in the contemporary that people use digital information technology as an instrument to facilitate social communication and to create a social power to influence the tendency of public opinion for political reform that would directly challenge the stable governance of the authorities. This is the core point explaining why independent media in the Chinese cannot have an influential role like their counterparts in the West: the media movement practices are actually bearing the “visible” and “invisible” pressure from the political powers. For instance, “Coolloud.org” is not legally recognized as a “media” by the authorities, the visible; the Taiwanese government does not encourage people to have contact with the information provided by the independent media through allowing the serious monopolization of the media space in the society, the invisible. One more example: it is impossible to publicly carry out any bottom-up social movement in the Mainland because freedom of speech is never respected under the Chinese Communist Party’s ruling. These facts demonstrate politics is of the major factor causing the difficult development of the media social movement in the “China”. In the past few decades, a social condition was given that there was still a room for local activists and individuals to practice independent media movement in Hong Kong and Taiwan, despite the political hindrance. This evidences there is always a social need for developing a free media approach to crying out for criticizing political powers’ wrongdoing and to realizing the facilitation of open communication among global citizens as well as to reflecting the “real” of society, both in the East and in the West. Independent media is one of such important approaches to social movement practice breeding a substantive social power to improve the quality of human civilization in the age of globalization.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

No Relationship with the Cultural Difference between the East and the West (6)

The core factor causing the form of different approaches to the independent media movement in different civilization bodies is, according to Ip, the power of political pressure. Needless to say, the distance between the East and the West is a truth, reflecting in the aspects of culture, tradition and thinking logic. However, the two civilization bodies both have the same demand for the realization of people’s value, including the voice from grassroots. It is because political power is always functioning under different names in different civilizations. Here, we can see the practice of independent media movement as a bold attempt of different peoples to embody a common humanistic value. Therefore, the forming of different approaches to the media activism should be ongoing based on the close relationship between the actual quality of the distinctive activisms and the socio-political realities in different civilizations because the development of the media movement would be directly impacted by the vicissitudinous political climate in different worlds. Following this reasoning, any judgment on evaluating the value of the social movement practice, such as: “the development of Western independent media is more ‘successful’ than the Chinese’s”, would be one-sided because different degree of political freedom enjoyed by the peoples just nurtures different approaches to social movement practice that is not related to different cultural logic between the East and the West. Obviously, Ip suggests the heavier political pressure on people is the major factor causing the lack of feedback from the Chinese towards the independent media activisms in Hong Kong and Taiwan. The “IMC” can be influential in the West because it works in a relatively open socio-political circumstance that allows the media activists to do so. That is why Ip has such distinctive opinion on this social movement issue.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

No Relationship with the Cultural Difference between the East and the West (5)

Compared with the Western media activism, there is a room for the independent media in the Chinese society to improve the methodology of their social movement practice. However, the same question is still here: what is the core factor causing this kind of “distance” between the Chinese’s and the Western’s? Is it related to the so-called “cultural difference” between the two civilization bodies[1]?

“Of course, there are some differences between the media activisms in the Chinese and in the West. However, are the differences related to culture? I do not think so. In fact, there are different political and social conditions for different communities in different countries of the world. Even in the entire Chinese society there are different political conditions for social movement practice. For example, the independent media movements in Taiwan and Hong Kong actually share different forms of media organization operation under specific socio-political circumstances. In the Mainland, it is impossible to carry out any social movement for any purpose because of the ‘special political climate’. General media in China are all monitored by the Communist Party. So, the factor causing the differences between the Chinese’s and the Western’s, from my point of view, is not connected with culture, but politics: how much pressure is put on the people in the political sense is just the core problem.” [2]

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

[1] For example, there are cultural differences between the peoples in the East and in the West: “Dr, Richard Nisbett, professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, observed in the New York Times in August 2000 that, ‘Asians [in a study conducted by Nisbett] tended to be more holistic showing greater attention to context, a tolerance for contradiction and less dependence on logic. Westerners were more analytic, avoiding contradiction, focusing on objects removed from their context, and more reliant on logic.’” See: Ng, Tai P. (2007). Chinese Culture, Western Culture. USA: iUniverse. p. 27.

[2] The content of the passage is extracted from the “Ip’s interview”.

No Relationship with the Cultural Difference between the East and the West (3)

Secondly, it seems Ip does not satisfy with the participation situation of local independent media in the Anti-WTO Movement, suggesting more positive feedback from the public to the movement should be given at that time. As mentioned, only four independent media participated in reporting the development of the dissenting movement in Hong Kong. The major work of the local independent media was offering the fresh news about the ongoing on their media platforms. However, compared with the foreign activists’ performance the media’s was “not enough”, according to Ip. Although the independent media had provided an alternative viewpoint for the movement that was different from the mainstream’s, it is still insufficient to effectively expand the social influence of the anti-globalization movement. For example, to establish an integrated media platform on the Internet for promoting the core value of the movement is a practical way to accumulate social power. Through the platform, people can search out integrated information related to the concerned conveniently[1]. The question is this: what is the core factor causing the different degrees of “maturity” of the media movement practices in the Chinese and in the West?

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

[1] Besides the “IMC”, we can take a look at the “Occupy Wall Street Movement” as example. As introduced in Chapter One, the “Occupy Wall Street Movement” is one of the anti-globalization movements ongoing. On the movement’s official website, we can find out a lot of information, such as the history, the participation guidelines, the useful tools (e.g. forum, chatroom and map) and the up-to-date news of the social movement. Through the media platform, people are easy to step into the movement developing. This case reflects social movement practitioners and activists in the West look more “sophisticated” in carrying out their action with a methodology of asking why, what and how for such practice. At this point, the independent media in the Chinese are very easy to be seen as “immature”, still working in a “developing” stage for their social movement practice.

No Relationship with the Cultural Difference between the East and the West (2)

“The local independent media participating in the social movement (Anti-WTO Movement in Hong Kong, 2005) were ‘Inmediahk.net’, ‘E-Politics21’, ‘People’s Radio Hong Kong (香港人民廣播電台)’ and ‘Video Power (錄影力量)’ only…. On the contrary, lots of foreign activists and alternative media at the time provided abundant commentating analyses, video footages and media materials about the global economic powers: the ‘G8’, ‘WTO’, and transnational corporations and the real-time development of the social movement. Through the information, people can know more and follow the ongoing progress of the movement. In our opinion, how to further expand the social influence of independent media is still an unsolved issue….[1]

First, Ip Iam Chong has his observation and opinion on the participation of “Inmediahk.net” in the “Anti-WTO Movement” in 2005. He argues foreign independent media practitioners and social activists in the movement were playing an important role in not only giving their energy to the dissenting movement, but providing sufficient information materials for global citizens and local people to further understand why the movement had been developed against the dominative blocs. All data, including texts, articles, multimedia files and photographs, were compiled by voluntary activists and campaigners, open to the public on the Internet. The circulation of the knowledge would encourage more people to participate in the anti-Establishment activism and facilitate the form of a powerful public opinion in Hong Kong. In a broad sense, these media works done by the sophisticated activistic practitioners helped enlarge the social influence of the movement, pressuring the “WTO” member states and local government to give more room for world citizens to realize the economic freedom and to stop any despotic decision-making for the interest of the rich around the world.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

[1] See: Ip, Iam-Chong (2007). Small Media, Big Issue. Hong Kong: Step forward. pp. 68-69.

No Relationship with the Cultural Difference between the East and the West

In the practical aspect, there have been many differences between the independent media movement in Hong Kong and Taiwan and their counterparts in the Western world because social movements in the East (e.g. the Chinese societies) and the West are developing under different social conditions, bearing dissimilar political challenges and historical burdens. Generally speaking, “independent media” is a term firstly used by Western society for describing a new form of media for social movement practice. In Chapter Three and Four, we have analyzed the present situation of the independent media movements in the Chinese societies. We find out that the two activistic media do have their distinctive opinions and unique ideas for their social movement practices. However, their operation has some limitations, such as relatively difficult to motivate more locals to participate in social action through media activism. On the other hand, there is a common image of that Western independent media, like the “IMC”, are seen to be more active and sophisticated, keen to integrate the media running with an organizational expansion strategy[1]. It seems that they receive more attention from the global society than the independent media in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

[1] For discussing the American “IMC”, Ip has shared his understanding: “There is a formal procedure for media movement activists to participate in the global ‘IMC’ project. If someone wants to establish an independent media platform in his or her country (or city) by using the logo of the ‘IMC’, he/she has to sign a contract with the media organization, having an obligation to promote the ‘independent media value’ defined by the ‘IMC’, to carry out the configuration standardization of the media website and to ensure the free-sharing of social movement information.” (The content is extracted from the ‘Ip’s interview’) For more details, please refer to the “IMC” official website.

No “Label” (6)

Independent media is one of the major forms of social movement practice based on the popularization of the use of the Internet and the rapid development of information technology in globalization. This kind of social movement practice is never come into existence in the past ages of human history. Hence, it is reasonable to say there would be lack of integral theory for analyzing and interpreting the significance of the social activism. Against this humanistic background, the two independent media’s founders Ip and Sun both understand that there could be no theory that can appropriately explain or interpret their local-globalized media activisms on the scene of globalization. Moreover, they both agree it is of no use to facilitate the future development of the independent media movements through idolizing a fixed principle, thought or ideology (e.g. the Left) as a “flag (label)” for positioning their social role. The operating strategy of “Inmediahk.net” and “Coolloud.org” must be timely adjusted based on the instant feedback from the public, the changing attitude of governments towards their activisms, the happening of social and political events and the developing tendency of the unstable world society. All in all, the two independent media’s opinion about not using a “label” to define their social movements not only allows their practices to be running in a high degree of flexibility, but also helps create a completely open stance on fostering the ideal development of world social activism contributed by all campaign groups and NGOs around the globe.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)