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“Popular Chinese microblog, Weibo, has been used by people to express religious beliefs and to voice criticisms, for example of some local government actions. Indeed, the government may be using Weibo to monitor the behavior of local authorities.”

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This was stated by Magda Hornemann, of Forum 18 News Service (www.forum18.org), who added, “Freedom of religion or belief has been a popular topic as seen in discussions about connections between the Constitution and religious freedom.”

A Peking University scholar wrote: “Without religious freedom, there can’t be a real Constitution!”

“But,” said Hornemann, an expert at Forum 18, “there seem to be different levels of interest in discussing religious freedom from Weibo users of different beliefs. And criticisms of the state, especially of central political leaders, are limited and indirect.

“There is no indication that Weibo has been used to mobilize collective action to address specific religious freedom violations.”

Hornemann stated, “But there is a freedom to express beliefs on Weibo that would have been unthinkable in China not very long ago. It appears that Weibo is advancing religious freedom in China to some extent. But it is not yet (if it ever will be) an effective means for people to mobilize to actively defend their rights to freedom of religion or belief.”

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