China’s online users welcome “difficult times during an economic downturn.”

27 Feb 2009|Cynthia Chan

It seems that the power of the current financial crisis is hitting every corner of the world, including China. The country’s economic growth slowed to 6.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, dragging down the annual rate to a seven-year low of 9 percent.

About 20 million of China’s migrant workers, who were once working in the cities, have returned home to the countryside after losing their jobs. Everyone says 2009 will be “possibly the toughest year” since the year 2000.

Different measures were being put forth from the government and private organizations to tackle the situation. And in this country that housed over 180 million Internet users, an interesting website emerged,

Bujingqi is Chinese for “difficult times during an economic downturn” (a loose definition.) Most of its content is generated by online users. Topic areas popped up on the bulletin boards include tips on controlling spending, how to build/develop resources during difficult times, how to deal with pressure, etc.

Some expressed patriotism through asking fellow citizens to support domestic brands during economic hardships while others urged local and central government to create jobs and increase rural incomes. Private companies were asked to take on more social responsibilities and give rural migrant workers more favorable employment treatment. Flexible employment policies and more training chances were also encouraged. There is a statement on the BuJingQi homepage saying the website will be closed when the Shanghai Composite Index goes back to 6,000 points. Let’s hope that day will come soon.

What is intriguing to me is the continuously more proactive role people are taking on about policy making. The Internet, especially social networking sites and/or bulletin boards, has certainly provided a great platform for online users in China to express their opinions in recent years, giving birth to a new age of participatory “policy-making” instead of playing a role at the recipient’s end of the equation. It would be interesting to see whether policy makers, designers, developers, and the like would consider the public forum as a pool of inspirations for innovations to come.

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