The Chinese Government Hops on the WeChat Bandwagon

Written by Zixue Tai and Xiaolong Liu. Like everywhere else, social media is an increasingly pervasive presence in Chinese society. Leading the market are the three behemoths QQ, Weibo and WeChat. QQ, the PC-based instant messaging service lately crossing over to the smart-phone market, is the oldest (debuted in 1999 by Tencent) and boasts over 800 …

Does Authoritarian Government Respond to the Chinese People?

Written by Ma Liang. Authoritarian regimes are usually characterized as being less responsive to its citizens in comparison to democratic governments. The use of Internet and other cutting-edge information and communication technologies (ICTs) have substantially transformed the process of government operation. An interesting question to be answered is whether and how authoritarian governments equipped with ICTs respond to …

From the “Great Firewall” to the “Great Cannon”: The misleading metaphors of Internet filtering in China

Written by Séverine Arsène. In a recent report on a China-related attack against Github and Greatfire, a group of researchers coined the term “Great Cannon” to describe a new outbound, aggressive turn in the Chinese Internet censorship strategy. That is in contrast with the previously prevalent metaphor of the “Great Firewall,” which sounded more static …

Chat and Mouse: The Online Game of Indirect Deliberation

Written by Nele Noesselt. Following the so-called Twitter and Facebook ‘revolutions’ of the Arab Spring, digital communication technologies and social media have, once again, been hyped up as facilitating the emergence and empowerment of civil society. This new critical mass of netizens was expected – exclusively based on the power of the virtual online word – …

Beyond censorship—The new ecology of the Chinese internet

Written by Jun Fu. The International Communication Association recently gave its Outstanding Article Award of 2015 to an article addressing the question “Does the Great Firewall Really Isolate the Chinese?”1 As noted by Prof. James G. Webster in his nomination letter, the question is “of broad interest to academics, policy-makers and many members of the general …

Social Media Activism: All the Rage in China

Written by Zixue Tai. Social media activism has taken root in China in recent years. In its numerous manifestations, it has has redefined the contours of China’s grassroots activism and collective action. Through its invasive presence in China’s cyber world, the formula usually works as follows: a certain individual with an axe to grind vents …

The revolution will not be tweeted, either

Written by Jackie Sheehan. After the Global Times last week, now CCP journal Qiushi has condemned online criticism of the ruling party as equivalent to the big-character posters (dazibao) of the Cultural Revolution. In effect, Xi Jinping has announced that today’s netizens, if they challenge the official version of events at all, are no better …