The ‘Jasmine Revolution’ in China: the limits of the cyber-utopia
The study of the Chinese Internet plays a fundamental part in an on-going global discussion on the role of the new media as tools of political change. It is undeniable that the development of the Internet in China is terrific both in terms of infrastructure investment and citizen involvement. Yet, even though this process has already been studied extensively and with varying perspective, several issues regarding its impact on Chinese society remain open. This paper will specifically delve into the conflicting nature of the Internet in China's political context. It will argue that in China, the Internet can favour political change as much as it can assist the authorities in their struggle to maintain the status quo. The argument will be structured in two parts: first, we will outline the “cyber-utopian” discourse in the Chinese context, underlining how the Internet has been perceived as a powerful instrument for political change since the Nineties; second, we will describe the various strategies employed by the Chinese authorities in order to control the Internet, specifically through modes of censorship, manipulation of information and judicial intimidation.
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