Cyber Activism without Reaching out: Uyghur Websites and Chinese Audiences

Posted: 2011年04月24日 in Original Thoughts

The role of communication technology in social movements (esp in ethnic nationalism) has been highlighted in social sciences in recent decades. The traditional cases of activism such as Burma and Tibet in which the cyber world has played important role are well documented. In the recent Uyghur case, scholars have also introduced the concept of “cyber” in analyzing the resistance of Uyghur Diasporas against the Chinese colonial rule of Xinjiang and maltreatment of the Uyghurs.

According to some scholars on Uyghur cyber activism, the role of the Uyghur cyber world in publicizing the Uyghur issue and communicating with governments and organizations is enormous. It is indeed that there are plenty Uyghur websites that have begun to grow in many languages, predominately English and Uyghur. The role of the internet communication in internationalizing the Uyghur issue is evidenced not only by the number of these websites but also by the recent Chinese persecution of the webmasters of the Uyghurbiz or Uyghur online in China. It simply testifies the power of the cyber world and its effect on the Chinese government.

However, among many Uyghur websites, to my knowledge, there is no oversea Uyghur website in Chinese language. It seemingly indicates that the Uyghur exiles forget that the largest audience of the Uyghur/Xinjiang issue is the Chinese world. This makes the Uyghurs in exile face a serious challenge that few Chinese audience listens to the Uyghur voice. Unlike the Tibetan issue and the Dalai Lama, there are not too many Chinese people ( in China or/and abroad) who are well aware of the Uyghur and Xinjiang.

Tactically, it is hard to publicize the Uyghur issue among the Chinese, not to mention telling them the truth about the Uyghur misery and gaining their sympathy. The Sept 11th event and China’s “anti-terrorism” already have deteriorated the Chinese image or imagination of Muslims in China, especially the Uyghurs. The lack of Chinese webs and the silence about Chinese accusation of the Uyghurs to some extent make the just Uyghur cause more vulnerable and illegitimate among the ordinary Chinese for the long run.

The popularity of the Dalai Lama among many Chinese (esp intellectuals) is not only because of his personal charisma but also because of the Tibetan cyber world that includes Chinese –language websites, which make Tibetan/Dalai Lama’s voice to be heard among the Chinese. In light of the coming Uyghur conference in Washington, this issue should be raised if Uyghur diaphoretic leadership hopes to inform the Chinese about the nature of the Uyghur/Xinijang issue.

  1. Zhang Chunxian says:

    I fully agree that there is a huge need for Chinese-language Uyghur websites, in order to spread knowledge where there is none. Moreover, English-language Uighur websites need to be improved, e.g. they should allow more academic debate and strive to be better updated.

    Finally, it would be interesting to learn more about the topic that I thought I would read about in this post: cyber warfare. This post is really not about that but about spreading knowledge.


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