A Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) report on Chinese society in 2008 has for the first time included analysis of online opinion.
According to the report, online platforms for public debate are already well developed. Almost every portal has a BBS, and there are a total of 1.3 mln BBSs operating in the country - more than in any other nation. Instant messaging, SMS and weblogs also play important roles in public opinion.
The report also points out the Internet users' opinions are often highly emotional, and young users are given to extreme opinions, giving rise to more frequent incidents of 'online violence.' Some more experienced users help form online opinion, but their own views are not necessarily objective or fair. It is suggested that the government communicates with these opinion-formers and presents more constructive suggestions.
Experts believe that online opinion exerts a huge amount of pressure and influence over matters of social concern, and that the government should establish mechanisms to monitor and analyse this opinion in order to provide response and guidance.