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China Rights Forum: The Next Phase

February 1, 2012

We are pleased to announce that in 2012, Human Rights in China (HRIC) will re-launch the China Rights Forum (CRF), as an expanded, electronic publication.

The CRF is only a year younger than HRIC itself. It was founded in 1990, as a desktop-published, stapled together bi-monthly called Human Rights Tribune. Over the past 21 years, the journal has provided an enduring platform for those not allowed to speak freely in China—writers, artists, poets, scholars, journalists, rights defenders, and activists promoting democratic reform. It has also presented the views of scholars, legal experts, and human rights advocates outside of China. Collectively, the contents of the journal constitute a record of the efforts by the people in China to assert and defend their rights as citizens, promote the rule of law, and build a civil society. The CRF has also provided extensive resources to the international community, including translations of key Chinese documents, case updates, and compilations of thematic resources.

During the same period, the rapid growth of the Internet and, more recently, the expansion of social media, especially the weibos, or microblogs, have radically transformed the communications landscape in China. In all, currently there are some 500 million Internet users, nearly 1 billion mobile phones, and more than 195 million weibo users in China. Chinese activists and civil society are increasingly engaged in citizen reporting, online discussions, and virtual organizing to address issues ranging from corruption and environmental degradation to tainted consumer products and major transportation accidents. Despite state-of-the art technology and the support by domestic law and a highly effective police-security apparatus, the Great Chinese Firewall is now no longer insurmountable. While the information control apparatus continues to monitor, block, and filter content, it cannot control the powerful flow of information, including text, photos, and videos that include creatively coded, often humorous, political and social critique.

The 2012 “reboot” of the China Rights Forum will leverage new social media and technology to move HRIC’s flagship journal into the vibrant online community developing in China and the world. It will introduce new multi-media and interactive features to provide a timely forum to promote diverse voices and human rights discussions. Integrated into the ongoing development of HRIC’s main websites, the CRF will link to HRIC’s existing online and expanded resources, special events, and new media products. We welcome your feedback and suggestions!

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