China is seeing a form of social change through new media and the Internet, where social media is offering a window for people to openly express their views. In his FOCUS FORWARD film Operation Free Lunch, director Lixin Fan shines a light on Chinese journalist Deng Fei’s use of social media to ameliorate social problems he is passionate about—in this case, hunger.
According to Deng, the model that Weibo, a Twitter-like platform, and the Free Lunch program he initiated online to feed impoverished school kids represents is “a sign of democracy and development” in China.
Below, Lixin Fan answers five questions about Operation Free Lunch and explains how social media is re-shaping Chinese culture. Watch the film here.
FF: How did you find out about Deng Fei?
Lixin Fan: I first found out about Deng and the Free Lunch Campaign in a news report saying they had raised over 30 million Yuan in 6 months. I was truly amazed.
FF: How did you get interested in his social media campaign?
LF: After we saw the role social media played in the Arab Spring, we knew it would help China to grow in certain ways. Chinese people want to avoid instability, so we must have a mature civil society so that everyone becomes more responsible for the collective good. Social media campaigns like Deng's may help us to get there.
FF: Is social media more effective in China than it is in the U.S.?
LF: I'm not an expert on this but I guess that social media plays a more vital role in China than in the U.S. simply because it's an effective tool for social change and much more. And it's not as tightly controlled by the government.
FF: What did you learn from Deng Fei’s story?
LF: Great things have a simple start and no kindness is too small.
FF: What are three things that inspire you?
LF: A big dream, the quest for social justice, and selflessness.
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