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Han Han: China's rebel blogger

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China's rebel blogger
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Han Han is an outspoken blogger who has gained celebrity status
  • Named one of Time Magazine's most influential people of 2009
  • Dropped out of school to write novels; races rally cars
RELATED TOPICS
  • Internet
  • China
  • Media

(CNN) -- Han Han is China's rebel writer who has become the unofficial voice for his generation.

As a teenager the 27-year-old began writing novels about angst-ridden characters that proved tremendously popular with China's angsty youth.

But it is his blog that has propelled him to celebrity status in China and earned him the accolade as one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people of 2009.

He's been touted as mouthpiece for the "post-80's generation"; China's youth who have grown up during the country's economic boom and are often characterized as apolitical and consumer-obsessed.

Blogging about issues such as the Chinese government's handling of the Sichuan earthquake of 2008 and recent spate of school stabbings, Han Han is savvy enough to know the limits of what he can and can't write about.

"Even though the Chinese government has improved on the freedom of speech front in recent years, writing is still rather dangerous, so it's quite difficult to strike this balance," he told CNN.

"But I believe you still need to try despite these difficulties. The situation only improves when there are more people trying; if no one is trying, it only gets more and more difficult."

With boyish good-looks and a rebel's cred (he dropped out of high-school and races rally cars) he's become one of China's more popular and recognizable bloggers, where the Internet is an increasingly popular forum for self-expression.

For Jeremy Goldkorn, a China media commentator, Han's attitude combined with his writing helps strike a chord with millions of China's disaffected youth.

"What separates Han Han from the other popular bloggers is, I think... he's got attitude. He is provocative and he reflects some of the anxieties that young people feel about the way China is today," said Goldkorn.

He may be outspoken but Han is not an activist in the vein of human rights and freedom of speech campaigner Liu Xiabao, who was jailed in 2009. Coming from a different generation from Han sees himself more aligned with artists rather than political iconoclasts.

"I'm not asking or requesting much -- I just hope that all the people in arts, all the literati, painters, and directors can work in an unregulated and uncensored environment," he said.

"But to be honest, the Chinese government and Chinese officials aren't as scary or as evil as what outsiders perceive. Their thinking process is a bit old-fashioned and stupid, but not evil. Except towards people who they believe might threaten the government, of course this relates mostly to many political events in the past."