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Will Chinese Version of Twitter Spark More Religious Freedom?

Researchers say Weibo has increased religious expression but not activism–yet.

During the Middle East's Arab Spring and Iran's attempted Green Revolution, citizens turned to Twitter and other social media to work together for greater freedoms. Such trends have researchers paying close attention to the rise of microblogging in another famously restrictive country: China.

According to a lengthy Forum 18 report, religion and religious beliefs are popular topics on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, which has over 450 million registered users. But although Weibo is giving Chinese Internet users unprecedented freedom to express religious beliefs, the platform has not been "used to mobilise collective action to address specific religious freedom violations," Forum 18 stated.

The Chinese government is generally quick to shut down or censor posts that it deems too religiously sensitive, but the Forum 18 report calls these punishments "relatively light."

Pro-life activists were encouraged after a photo of Chinese mother Feng Jianmei and her aborted baby went viral in China this summer, prompting debate over the nation's one-child policy.

CT has regularly reported on social networking. CT also recently reported on what China's new leaders mean for its 80 million Christians, the rapid growth of Bible publishing in China, and the growth of China's urban church.

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