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 concept – “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 new concept, a bold attempt to examine the significant reflection of today’s Chinese on the nature of the globalized civilization by reconnecting the ancient thinking with the contemporary reality will be realized. Also, the concept is anticipated to help open up an advanced construction of an open knowledge structure beyond the existing East-West epistemological perspective, 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.