Kate Woodsome of Voice of America called me while she was reporting a radio piece about the Chinese leaderships’ new official blog “Direct Line from Zhongnanhai“.

Already inspiring tens of thousands of views and comments since launching several weeks ago, the blog features color photos of President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and other leaders at the Communist Party headquarters.

Some extracts from the original:

Jeremy Goldkorn of Danwei on the impact of the Internet on China:

Goldkorn says the Internet alone is unlikely to spur broad political reforms, but it is changing the public’s relationship to the government.

“Although that platform is still more restricted than it is in the West, it’s vastly superior to anything that’s ever happened really in China in terms of citizens’ ability to tell the government what they’re thinking,” he says. “So it has had the same kind of democratizing effect on the national debate as it has had in Western countries and in America.”

Some comments I made on the 50-cent army:

The freelancers are known as the “50-cent army” for the amount of money they reportedly earn for each post.

“They’re trying to push the conversation in ways they think are more favorable to the government,” Crampton says. “So the government is getting involved in conversations and trying to shape the perception and the way the people are talking about issues.”

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