I am so glad we have Cronkite Global Conversations. I appreciate the personal insight from the Fellows.
Last Wednesday Evgeny Kuzmin and Hao Chen, also known as Alex, presented on Russia and China. Its amazing to compare the size of the two countries. Russia is 6.6 million square miles with a population of only 143 millions compared to China’s population of 1.3 billion people living in a country with about 3.7 million square miles. I suppose the climate of Russia impacts the number of people who live there.
It was interesting to learn there are 160 different ethnicities in Russia and 56 in China with the majority being Han. I was surprised by the low percentage of the population that uses Internet. According to the Internet World Stats, a little over 38 percent of China uses the Internet, while 43 percent of Russians use the Internet. The Internet World Stats says a little over 78 percent of Americans use the Internet.
A big difference between the two countries is Russia does not have censorship on social media, while China does to a certain extent. Alex said people in China can criticize the local government but if they criticize the national government they risk the chance of being jailed.
It was interesting learning about the different search engines and social media brands. In Russia, Kohtakte is similar to Facebook. Yandex is the most popular search engine in Russia, beating Google. Evgeny said Futubra rivals Twitter in Russia, but Twitter is still the most used. Baidu is the most popular search engine in China. Weibo is the most popular social media tool in China. Alex said the government is trying to control social media so it will block people from using it, but people are able to get around the government block.
I am glad Evgeny shared the various view points of Russian’s based on age. He said the first generation is people older than 40 who are ex-soviets. This generation uses cell phones but do not use social media. Evgeny said most are pro Putin. The second generation consists of people in their twenties and thirties. They grew up with freedom in the nineties and experienced years of poverty. This group uses social media. The third generation includes people who are currently in high school and younger. This generation has used the Internet and social media since childhood and do not consider western countries as a threat.
Evgeny talked about the citizen movement against election fraud, which is still a hot topic in Russia. On Sunday Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was elected president. The L.A. Times reported that election officials said Putin won about 65 percent of the votes after two-thirds of the votes were counted Sunday. The Washington Post reports in the article “Russian police, protesters heighten confrontation following Putin victory” that 5,000 to 20,000 Putin protestors gathered on Monday night at Pushkin Square in Moscow to protest the unfair election and Putin’s win. According to the Guardian’s news blog, titled “Hundreds detained after Moscow anti-Putin protest – As it happened,” some of the election frauds being reported include voting more than once, being paid to vote, and ballot stuffing. The Guardian reported leaders of the opposition claim that about 500 people were arrested in the Pushkin Square rally while police reported 250 arrests.