Table of Contents

Comment Icon0 This chapter involves a literature review of the Chinese government’s Internet media policies, how the Chinese citizens react to these online restrictions, and how China’s Internet regulation practices compare with those of developed and developing countries around the world. This comparison would help reveal the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of Internet adoption in China. A timeline of significant events would help illustrate the evolution of online media policies as the government and public negotiate their own particular agendas, thus defining the emergent nature of the Chinese online space.

Comment Icon0 Throughout modern history, new development in information communication technology (ICT) has typically met with various forms of resistance in the socio-political realm. From 1440, when German inventor Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, till today when Internet is still being adopted globally, the roles of these particular communication tools have been widely acknowledged as having a democratizing effect on societies. Of the various nations, governments that rely on authoritarian rule would hardly appreciate the effects such ICT tools bring, and would control access to them accordingly.

Comment Icon0 The Internet, envisioned as a cornucopia of disruptive information communication technologies, was once thought to threaten the sovereigns that depend on maximum political, economic and cultural control over their people. Libertarian supporters once believed that totalitarian regimes could no longer ensure themselves a safe environment by controlling the newspapers, radio and television stations because the Internet remained beyond their control and manipulation (Perrit, 1998). For the early Internet users, they saw the Internet as a medium with universal access to unfiltered flows of information, that it was impervious to hierarchies of power and that it could “strengthen deliberative democracy” (Gimmler, 2001) with ”no overlords or gatekeepers” (Warf & Grimes, 1997).

Comment Icon0 As a painful reminder for the Chinese communist government, communication tools such as fax, email and a U.S.-based newsgroup were relied upon by the students during the Tiananmen Square uprising-turned-massacre. While conservative members of the Communist Party were worried that the Internet represented a weapon of foreign domination upon their national culture (Green, 2000), the Chinese government acknowledged the importance of importing technology for the sake of modernization (Teng & Fairbank, 1963). Through effective ICT management, Tsui (2005) noted how the inherent need to conserve Chinese values while applying Western technology gave birth to the notion of tiyong, which refers to “Chinese learning as substance, Western learning for practical use”. In essence, various forms of technology adoption in China have typically been separated between the technology itself and the morals and values that shaped its impact, diffusion and use. As observable, this runs in contrast to Western belief in the Internet’s potential for democratization.

Chapter 2.1 – Internet Adoption in China


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