With rise in social media, China's government struggles to save face

The Chinese Communist Party is having trouble maintaining their image in a technologically connected China, Reuters reports. Party officials have suspended an army officer after reports that he assaulted a flight attendant quickly spread on the Internet, further fueling a growing outrage against the corruption of the Communist Party.

With the CCP preparing to anoint a new leader this year, the Party has been having trouble protecting the image it had maintained through heavy propaganda and state-owned mass media. This year alone they have been beset by a series of corruption scandals, a reported orgy and a highly publicized murder.

In this week’s incident, a military official and his wife allegedly started a physical fight with a flight attendant, who published photos of bruises and a torn uniform on Sina Weibo, a Chinese microblog that has been compared to Twitter.

Earlier this year, Chen Guangcheng, a blind human rights activist and political prisoner, escaped from house arrest. Recently, the wife of high-ranking party official Bo Xilai was found guilty of murdering a British businessman. Last month, Chinese social media sites published photos of a party-appointed safety officer smiling in the wake of a deadly bus crash, and this March spread allegations that children of party officials were involved in a Ferrari crash.

Political scholars in Beijing say that newspapers are still too frightened of government retribution to publicize these incidents, but writers on the Internet are not affected in the same way.

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