Chinese bloggers made a strong showing at this year’s The Best of Blogs awards (aka “The BOBs”), an international blog competition organized by German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle. According to the BOBs’ Web site, it claims to be the world’s largest international blog contest, with awards offered in 11 different language categories by both expert juries and public voting online.
Zeng Jinyan, the wife of jailed human rights activist Hu Jia, shared the special jury award from Reporters Without Borders with 4equality, a Persian women’s rights blog from Iran. Zeng, who lives under house arrest in Beijing along with her one-year-old daughter, uses her blog to communicate her experiences of life under surveillance and to share information about her husband’s status.
A Chinese blog also took the people’s choice award for best overall blog. Science Guru, a popular group blog, covers scientific topics for a general audience. According to Xinhua (in Chinese), the blog was started by Ph.D. student Ji Xiaohua and about 20 friends earlier this year. By late July, Science Guru boasted over 80 frequent contributors
We sought out responses from Zeng Jinyan and Liu Xiaoyuan on their awards.
We were unable to reach Zeng by phone today, but on her blog, she touched on the award and her blogging within a post titled “Thanksgiving.” Below are some excerpts.
On receiving news of the award:
“Tonight [Nov. 27] at dusk, as I brought the baby in from the cold, I got a call from a Deutsche Welle staffer who said my blog had won this year’s special prize and asked how I felt. At the time my exhausted and slow brain didn’t respond, and I said I didn’t have any special feeling, but in fact I’m very happy.”
On her blogging beginnings:
“When I first started blogging in 2005, I never even considered the questions, ‘What is a blog? What is the purpose of a blog? What sort of impact can blogging have on my life?’ I just thought it would be fun after seeing a friend’s blog. So I started keeping an online diary, restricted to friends, where I could share my daily life and thinking, and we could comment and discuss with one another. I’ve been in the habit of keeping a diary since I was young. I didn’t write every day, but when I had some thoughts I’d write them down, or I’d write poetry, essays and strange stories. When I was in a bad mood, confiding in my diary would help me to relax and recover.”
On the development of her blog:
[After Hu Jia disappeared in February 2006], I began to feel very anxious, looking for Hu Jia everywhere, I recorded this experience on the blog. After about two months, I realized that by making the blog public, it would draw the attention of more people who could help in the search for Hu Jia. But at that time, I still didn’t understand the function of blogging, it was mainly like sticking to the old methods of writing a daily email to friends to tell them about the progress of the search for Hu Jia.
After Hu Jia returned from his 41-day disappearance, for a while I was at a loss about what to do with my blog… So I consulted with some elders, who gave me some very good ideas and encouraged me to continue writing.
In 2007, a friend told me that he didn’t want to read my blog anymore because it was full of depressing content… For a time, I also felt a heavy sense of weariness and took a pessimistic view of China’s human rights situation. But every time I see the suffering of rights defenders, petitioners and their families, every time I hear their appeals and pleas for help, I want the world to be able to hear their stories and [I want to] do my small part for the domestic rights movement.. In environments where the freedom of speech is restricted, blogs play an important and meaningful role.
Up to now, my views haven’t changed, in fact I am even more optimistic. Blogs can entirely become an independent media, as long as you persevere in speaking the truth, persevere in reporting the events that occur around you, and persevere in independent thinking.