This article was updated at 10:11 am on Friday, November 9.
In stark juxtaposition with the boisterous political process we have recently witnessed in the United States is the choreographed 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which opened in Beijing this morning. During this weeklong meeting, the single party state will undergo its once-in-a-decade political transition, with President Hu Jintao handing the Party’s reigns to Vice President Xi Jinping.
Colloquially known as the “Eighteenth Big,” or “shiba da,” this is the first Communist Party Congress to be taking place in the age of Weibo, China’s three year-old Twitter equivalent, which has around 300 million users. Chinese social media commentators, however, are up against a much more foreboding foe than that which unnerved some of their American counterparts in the lead-up to election night: instead of the prospect of a great white fail whale, they are confronted with the reality of a Great Firewall.