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25 years of the Internet in China

By Natalie Thomas (CRI Online)

09:34, September 21, 2012

The 20th September 2012 marks 25 years of the internet in China. From the first email sent by a Chinese professor back in 1987, to 538 million internet users and counting, the internet has had a huge impact on Chinese society.

CRI reporter Natalie Thomas went out to ask Chinese people how they feel the internet has changed their lives.

On a busy Beijing street popular with tourists it seems that Ipads and smart phones are everywhere you look as local Beijingers and out of towners are taking photos and keeping in touch with friends back home. With more than a third of the population now online and over 300 million weibo users, China's society has been transformed by the communications revolution. We asked some of them how important the internet has become in their daily lives.

"I'm a student from the Beijing Film Academy, If I'm not on the internet then I'll be using my ipad, no matter the time or place there's always internet. if there's nothing else then i'll be on my
phone. I think that the influence the internet has had on us is that it allows us to see the world outside of our own circles."

"When we were in middle school we found out about QQ and started chatting online with that and using internet searches with Baidu and so on, these days the thing thats really changing society is weibo and renren now we have one more channel for expressing public opinion an a platform for our own opinions too."

"I'm 45 years old and working in a management consultantcy, I think the internet has had a massive impact on Chinese people's lives because traditionally Chinese society is organised in small circles like a family circle, larger scale communication crossing different areas were very rare. So the internet has influenced Chinese peoples' thought and communication processes as well as how they view society."

"I'm from Changsha in Hunan, I'm a third year student in Beijing I feel like the internet has changed my life a lot, these days I hardly ever go out shopping, I get everything I need from Taobao, if I want to read a magazine then I'll do it online and if want to see a film I won't go to the cinema I'll just watch it online as well."

While the consensus is that for the most part that the internet has brought freedom and convenience for millions across China, some of those we spoke to offered words of caution.

"I feel likewhereas in the past it was bringing people closer together, now that its become the main method of communication, its actually pushing people further apart because when you talk online the whole time, when you meet up you have nothing to say to each other."

"Every month if my friends don't ask me to come out then I basically don't leave the house and even if i do I have to convince myself for ages before going out."

"There is the problem of whether online speech is responsible. Because most of the time when people post opinions they don't have to give their real identity, the things they come out with will either be extremely subjective or will contain some irresponsible speech. Our world has all kinds of voices within it but politeness and morality are the absolute basics that should not be neglected."

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