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The story of Qi Shi Ma: Online discussion and community engagement in urban China
Unformatted Document Text:  - 2 - Introduction On May 7, 2009, a 20-year-old driver, Hu Bin, sped in downtown Hangzhou, China, and killed a pedestrian, Tan Zhuo. The police’s original report of the case said the car’s speed was only 70 kilometers per hour. This report led to public complaints about administrative justice. Hu is from a rich family and is called by net users as “Rich 2 nd Generation,” which describes young people born in the 1980s to wealthy families. Tan was from a lower-middle class family and graduated from Zhejiang University, which is one of the nation’s most prestigious schools. The class disparity led to the residents to question the relationship between Hu’s family and the police. This event was called Qi Shi Ma, which is the pronunciation for both “70 kilometers per hour” and “lie to the honest horse” in Mandarin Chinese. As a result, this event led to a hot debate about administrative transparency and social equality (ifeng.com, 2010). On the other hand, the City of Hangzhou, where the accident happened, has one of the earliest local online forum in China 19lou.com, (19lou.com, 2010). Local residents rely on this platform to engage in their community discussions. Different from other online communities, the online city forum, as a virtual space, is connected with and based on a real geographic space. Therefore, this study aimed to deepen conceptual understandings of the local online forum, an area that media scholars have not studied extensively. From a microscopic level, it examined the nature of public discussions about community affairs. The findings would shed more light on social media’s role in China’s democratic development. Online discussion and community engagement in urban China

Authors: Liu, Zhengjia.
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- 2 -
Introduction
On May 7, 2009, a 20-year-old driver, Hu Bin, sped in downtown Hangzhou, 
China, and killed a pedestrian, Tan Zhuo. The police’s original report of the case said the 
car’s speed was only 70 kilometers per hour. This report led to public complaints about 
administrative justice. Hu is from a rich family and is called by net users as “Rich 2
nd 
Generation,” which describes young people born in the 1980s to wealthy families. Tan 
was from a lower-middle class family and graduated from Zhejiang University, which is 
one of the nation’s most prestigious schools. The class disparity led to the residents to 
question the relationship between Hu’s family and the police. This event was called Qi 
Shi Ma, which is the pronunciation for both “70 kilometers per hour” and “lie to the 
honest horse” in Mandarin Chinese. As a result, this event led to a hot debate about 
administrative transparency and social equality (ifeng.com, 2010).
On the other hand, the City of Hangzhou, where the accident happened, has one 
of the earliest local online forum in China 19lou.com, (19lou.com, 2010). Local residents 
rely on this platform to engage in their community discussions. Different from other 
online communities, the online city forum, as a virtual space, is connected with and based 
on a real geographic space. 
Therefore, this study aimed to deepen conceptual understandings of the local 
online forum, an area that media scholars have not studied extensively. From a 
microscopic level, it examined the nature of public discussions about community affairs. 
The findings would shed more light on social media’s role in China’s democratic 
development. 
Online discussion and community engagement in urban China


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