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਀㰀䐀䤀嘀 挀氀愀猀猀㴀氀椀渀攀㸀㰀⼀䐀䤀嘀㸀
਀㰀䐀䤀嘀 猀琀礀氀攀㴀∀吀䔀堀吀ⴀ䄀䰀䤀䜀一㨀 挀攀渀琀攀爀∀㸀☀渀戀猀瀀㬀㰀⼀䐀䤀嘀㸀
Ran Xiang (染香), provided by Ran Xiang via e-mail.

Editor's Note:

China's microblogging services now have hundreds of millions of users, and political topics are among the most hotly discussed issues online. The controversial "Ran Xiang," who posts under a pseudonym, has become known for her trenchant attacks on "pro-US" posters and defence of the Chinese government. Why are the microblogs so divided? Why do Ran and others believe as they do? Global Times (GT) reporter Gao Lei interviewed Ran Xiang (Ran) by e-mail on these issues.

Gao: Discussions about your mysterious background have been going on for nearly two years but it seems no one can identify you. So who are you after all, a woman, a man or a team? Do you feel stressed with keeping your identity? Will you reveal all this one day?

Ran: I can understand why people are so interested in my identity. Since I have been staying anonymous, my growing reputation will certainly make more and more people wondering who I am. But instead of feel stressed, I'd rather like to see discussions around it keep going, as it has become one of the most popular topics on Weibo and one of importance to the Internet community.

As to my identity, I want to say that I have been there among the public since the start. Many are unaware of it because they haven't paid enough attention to people around them. I believe my identity will be revealed one day by smart Chinese netizens, but it is not as easy as they think.

Gao: What have microblogging services brought to China??

Ran: Microblogging services have profoundly changed the way information is distributed and perceived. The authorities have found it harder to control waves of instant message flows, while the grass roots, united by the platform's huge user-based community, will continue to shape the country and its future.

I think I wouldn't have become an Internet figure without such a platform. In fact, I'd say my popularity is more or less a coincidence sparked by the clash of many factors in China's modern society.

Gao: If you speak for the mainstream ideology on Weibo, you will be quickly targeted by the majority there who want Western-style democracy and see hundred of pages of comments filled up with attacks against you. But why would you still choose to speak for the mainstream ideology and even title yourself the "president of the 50-cents party"?

Ran: Two opposing groups currently exist on Weibo, the "pro-US" one and the "pro-China" one. The majority that dominates Weibo belongs to the "pro-US" group, while those who support the Chinese government remain the minority.?

The cause of this imbalance is due to the fact that the "pro-US" ?group controls the resource of Weibo and thus dominates the conversation. The team that runs Weibo has a clear preference for the "pro-US" ?group not only because some of its staff support it, but also due to a marketing strategy that aimed at attracting more people to join the platform with the hook of negative news about the government. Thus, the "pro-China" group is relatively weak in presenting their ideas on the platform.

On the other hand, the "pro-US" group is very good at playing with sensational news that can stir the public anger toward the government. This can explain why the pro-government group often found themselves harassed by blame or verbal abuses from the "pro-US" group.

Although I sometimes speak for the pro-government group, I see myself as an independent between the two. I prefer rational, objective and independent thinking, rather than participating in dog fights. I think this is why people like me. As to being the "president of the five-cents party," I'd say it's more or less a joke, rather than a label. But that may indicates my reputation on Weibo, since I'm hated by the "pro-US" ?group.

Gao: Those who oppose your views or?even abuse you are seen as champions of democracy. ?How do you define the concept of democracy?

Ran: Most people who oppose me are actually opposing my opinions, but there are also some who would go further to abuse me. I, however, welcome those different views, even the abuse, because I see these voices as a form of doubt, and I think it is important to encourage this, rather than having them to blindly believe in something.?
On the other hand though, it is equally important to bear in mind that doubts are not always coming from rational thinking and may be driven by stereotypes of a particular political stance. Therefore, while I'd enjoy seeing people questioning my ideas, I don't like doubts that are hostile in nature, because it will prevent people from participating in a fair argument and getting a clear understanding of the issue.?

Talking about those champions of democracy abusing me, I think it is because I see their "democracy" as a "pseudoscience."

You may wonder why I would define their "democracy" as "pseudoscience". This is because pseudoscience, which often appeared to be logical and rational, is more established on hypothesis than practical experience. Everybody can have his or her own hypothesis, but that's only an ideal yet to be tested.

For instance, the "pro-US" ?group on Weibo argue that democracy is about elections and separation of power and believe that if people are allowed to vote and the government's powers can be separated, the country will become democratic and all its problems would be solved. But this is only a hypothesis. The reality is that people living in Russia or Southeast Asia countries have been practicing both for a number of decades, yet none of their problems were solved by elections and the separation of powers.

Moreover, democracy is a very vast and ambiguous word that literally cannot be explained by a single, accurate and systematic definition. You cannot force Buddhism to accept the Christian definition of God and heaven, and you cannot force China to accept the Western definition of democracy and freedom.

Currently, most Chinese believe that freedom is to do whatever they want without any boundaries, because the "pro-US" ?group often promote the Western-style freedom in that way.?

But the reality in the West is that freedom is established upon a civilized social order where people can voluntarily restrain their behavior for the public good and its boundary is also defined by regulations and laws. Without these, freedom will easily turn into chaos.

The "pro-US" ?group on Weibo doesn't really know what is democracy or freedom at all. But it is these people who are promoting democracy in China. This is why I keep talking against their democracy on Weibo. I hope my words can offer the public at least a balanced and practical explanation of democracy, so that they will become more rational and objective on these two terms that will greatly affect them and their country in the future.

Gao: Some people believe that China will need to go through a revolution similar to those taking place in North Africa and the Middle East. What's your opinion on this?

Ran: I believe the people who want to see a revolution takes place in China mainly consist of those who despair of the system and those who are working for Western governments that want to permanently remove the threat of a growing China.

I think these people should be allowed to speak their minds, unless they break the law. Whatever ideology or political agenda they have, they need to do it under the law.?

Talking about a revolution itself, I think people who want that to happen often ignore the fact that China has changed a lot compared to the last century. The living standard of Chinese has improved greatly and freedoms have gradually been returned to the public as the government's governance skill and confidence grow. I believe the country should be allowed to keep its current reform process rather than break it completely for a new one.?
Although some have argued the ruling party often use the word "stability" to prevent revolution from happening, I'd say that a stable China is more for the sake of the wellbeing of its 1.3 billion people than to keep the ruling party in power.?

Since policymakers have already making progress and are aware of the crisis the Party is facing if it fails at reform, I suggest we should give them our faith and patience, while actively contributing to the reform with real actions, and help the government solve our problems rather than just stand there and swearing.

The ?enigma ?of ?Ran Xiang

The identity of the mysterious "Ran Xiang," a prolific poster on China's Weibo microblogging service, has been much disputed. Ran, who began posting in November 2009 and now has over 160,000 followers and detractors, is a vocal advocate against Weibo posters who call for multi-party democracy and the introduction of Western values in China, but her own background remains unclear.?

She describes herself as "the president of the 50-cents party." The term "50-cent party" is often used by anti-government advocates on Weibo to describe their opponents, since "50 cents" (five mao) was reported to be the amount paid by local governments per post for pro-government positions. The term has been adopted in turn by some pro-government advocates themselves. Ran also claims to be smarter than Han Han, a famous Chinese commentator ranked the second most influential person in China by Time magazine in April 2010, and to have large breasts.?

Cheng Yizhong, former editor of the Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis Daily, used his contacts to investigate Ran after she criticized his advocacy of a multi-party system as naive.?

Cheng posted abusive comments about Ran, but later deleted them. According to his investigations, Ran is "Yu Jin," a graduate of the California Institute of Technology and works for Mackinsey, a US management consultancy. ?
However, Ran has neither confirmed nor denied this identification. A woman made an appearance as "Ran Xiang" on a talkshow hosted by Shanghai's Dragon TV, but gave no information about her background or occupation. Some netizens still suspect Ran of being a man, or a composite personality used by a team of bloggers. Ran "herself" promises to reveal her identity someday.

Ran Xiang's Weibo: Weibo.com/followher