The aim of this empirical study is to determine Chinese cyberspace governance, analyse its inner mechanism and methods of internet regulation, and identify the specific strategies utilised in local institutions’ specific practice. Qualitative methods were adopted for this study which employs semi-structured interviews with media platform owners and opinion leaders. Following data collection, the thematic analysis, which adopt the method of inductive coding, was applied to discover and understand themes and the deep information with clear and systematic illustrations. Tit-for-Tat strategy including persuasion approach and punishment approach is applied to regulate the platforms, opinion leaders, and accounts in digital age. This qualitative research also tests whether or not the control of internet is reflective of authoritarian resilience. The authoritarian resilience is apparent in the institutionalisation of laws and regulations, administrative acts by law and tolerance of small-scale criticism in order to enhance the government’s capabilities. However, the resilience of the state has been questioned if the increased power of Cyberspace Administration will not pursue reforms and self-improvement but rather rely on opinion guidance and information restrictions of the cyberspace regulations. In summary, although Chinese government can reap short-term online benefit, the operation and specific regulations adopted by local Cyberspace Administration will damage the authoritarian resilience in the long run.
Cyberspace governance, Tit-for-Tat strategy, Authoritarian resilience, Internet regulation
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
The London School of Economics and Political Science, China