China's 'responsive' authoritarianism by Maria Repnikova

Posted in: Governance at 28/11/2018 15:44

Maria Repnikova is an assistant professor in global communications at Georgia State University and the director of the Center for Global Information Studies. Her body of work focuses on China’s political communication practices.

China is often described as ruthless and dystopian. Escalating censorship, intensified propaganda and the social credit system present a threatening new mode of Internet governance to the West, one where the freewheeling World Wide Web seems “captured” by the Chinese Communist Party.

Such increases in control, however, do not tell the whole story. Since the inception and spread of the Internet in China, the Chinese party-state has attempted to use the Internet for governance and legitimacy-building as well as for weeding out sensitive information. Chinese President Xi Jinping has referred to the Internet as a “battlefield” where the party struggles to sway public opinion. And that effort means that alongside control, Chinese authorities scrupulously listen to and study public opinion online, engage with and respond to public grievances, and creatively mobilize the public through interactive social media tools.

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