History of Social Media Movements in China

China has a rather young Social Media movements compare to others. However, China has a long history of film and cultural heritage movement since the production of the first Chinese film in 1896.  In the 1930s Shanghai became a center of cultural innovation, 60 films were produced annually in Shanghai until 1966. [1]The film industry continued to grow and expand until the dawn of the Cultural Revolution. “In the 17 years between the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 and the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), 603 feature films and 8,342 reels of documentaries and newsreels were produced.” (5, Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance) However, during the Cultural Revolution the film industry entered a state of virtual stasis, as production of films and all cultural innovations were subsumed by the revolution. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) banned all cultural activities, the research and development of technologies, and severely limited social gatherings. Much of China’s rich cultural heritage was also destroyed by revolutionary elements who identified traditional sites and relics as a threat to their ideology. Thus, the Cultural Revolution was not only a period in which cultural innovation stagnated, but also a period in which much of China’s culture was destroyed.

Following the death of Mao Zedong in 1976, Deng Xiaoping put and end to the state of Cultural Revolution, and initiated his “Reform and Opening-up Policy.” Deng’s policy reformed the fundamental economic structure of China and opened the market to foreign trade and investments. The policy also encouraged cultural education in both urban and rural areas, and cultivated the “fifth-generation” of filmmakers, including Chen Kaige, Zhuangzhuang Tian, and Zhang Yimou. In 1990, 134 Chinese films were released in China, the number increased to 146 films in 1995, but declined to 91 by 2000. [2] In 2004, President Hu Jintao developed the CCP’s new guiding social ideology, “harmonious society,” the stated goal of which is the fusion of socialism and democracy in Chinese governance. However, after seven years of rule under this ideological framework, Chinese society has not only failed to develop an effective system of democratic government, it has been thrust into a state of social turmoil, resulting in the greatest single setback to Chinese cultural innovation in the 21st century. After the introduction of the “Harmonious Society” platform in 2004, all films were mandated to follow new laws, which broadly, and often subjectively, limited the content of radio, film, and television projects, and continue to restrict the freedom of producers and creative artists to innovate.[3]

[1] Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, Australia-China Free Trade Agreement Feasibility Study (June, 2004).

[2] Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, Australia-China Free Trade Agreement Feasibility Study (June, 2004).


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