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postgraduate thesis: A long march for survival : the internet, social media and government accountability in China

TitleA long march for survival : the internet, social media and government accountability in China
Authors
Advisors
Advisor(s):Liu, HKHu, WR
Issue Date2018
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Li, Y. [李亦然]. (2018). A long march for survival : the internet, social media and government accountability in China. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR.
AbstractLacking the informative feedback provided by democratic institutions, how can the authoritarian regimes successfully survive after the third wave of democratization? This dissertation tries to answer this question by investigating the cyberspace administration and information management in China. I show that as the most powerful autocracy, the Chinese government gradually built its cyberspace administrative institution to respond to citizen demands and solve its principal-agent problems. Such institutions help communicate the voice of ordinary Chinese at the grassroots level to the government, as well as influence policy, and lead to the sanctioning of officials. This dissertation provides both macro- and micro-level evidence on the role of cyberspace administration in governance and China’s party-state system. I argue that the Chinese government does not simply restrict all negative information on the Internet, but has built specific institutions to respond to the negative information exposure online. Social media has become an important platform for the government to collect information, evaluate policies, and monitor officials. At the macro level, the CCP employs strategies to respond to those who leak negative information, and netizens indeed have the capacity to punish officials: the level of public attention significantly influence the speed of government responsiveness and the severity of the punishment At the micro level, the CCP establishes local cyberspace administration agencies to communicate and coordinate local knowledge and assess policies, which is different from our common understanding of their surveillance functions. Departmental linkage and online-offline coordination mechanisms communicate the demands of ordinary citizens at the grassroots level to high-level leaders. The local government employs different strategies to respond to citizens’ demands, complaints, and criticism. Such strategies include, but not limit to, explaining situations to the public, solving problems, adjusting policies, and framing. Framing, the most sophisticated strategy, contains various methods such as deletion, astroturfing, and transparency. Such responsive institutions deliver valuable information about society to the state, especially information on policy implementation and social conflicts, and thus improve government responsiveness and state legitimacy. I also explore patterns of response strategies and find that the government would like to solve problems and adjust policies for livelihood issues, explain situations to the public regarding officials’ behaviour, and reframe public opinion for collective action related issues. Contrary to the traditional responsiveness model, which depends on sustaining voluntary public participation through certain official channels, this institution depends more on netizens’ online expression and local governments’ co-optation with cyberspace to proactively collect information. Finally, by comparing Vietnam, Russia, and China, I also show the generalizability of China’s information management and online government responsiveness institutions, suggesting a broader trend for other authoritarian regimes around the world.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy
SubjectCyberspace - Government policy - China
Internet - China
Social media - China
Dept/ProgramPolitics and Public Administration
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/271632

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.advisorLiu, HK-
dc.contributor.advisorHu, WR-
dc.contributor.authorLi, Yiran-
dc.contributor.author李亦然-
dc.date.accessioned2019-07-10T03:19:05Z-
dc.date.available2019-07-10T03:19:05Z-
dc.date.issued2018-
dc.identifier.citationLi, Y. [李亦然]. (2018). A long march for survival : the internet, social media and government accountability in China. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR.-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/271632-
dc.description.abstractLacking the informative feedback provided by democratic institutions, how can the authoritarian regimes successfully survive after the third wave of democratization? This dissertation tries to answer this question by investigating the cyberspace administration and information management in China. I show that as the most powerful autocracy, the Chinese government gradually built its cyberspace administrative institution to respond to citizen demands and solve its principal-agent problems. Such institutions help communicate the voice of ordinary Chinese at the grassroots level to the government, as well as influence policy, and lead to the sanctioning of officials. This dissertation provides both macro- and micro-level evidence on the role of cyberspace administration in governance and China’s party-state system. I argue that the Chinese government does not simply restrict all negative information on the Internet, but has built specific institutions to respond to the negative information exposure online. Social media has become an important platform for the government to collect information, evaluate policies, and monitor officials. At the macro level, the CCP employs strategies to respond to those who leak negative information, and netizens indeed have the capacity to punish officials: the level of public attention significantly influence the speed of government responsiveness and the severity of the punishment At the micro level, the CCP establishes local cyberspace administration agencies to communicate and coordinate local knowledge and assess policies, which is different from our common understanding of their surveillance functions. Departmental linkage and online-offline coordination mechanisms communicate the demands of ordinary citizens at the grassroots level to high-level leaders. The local government employs different strategies to respond to citizens’ demands, complaints, and criticism. Such strategies include, but not limit to, explaining situations to the public, solving problems, adjusting policies, and framing. Framing, the most sophisticated strategy, contains various methods such as deletion, astroturfing, and transparency. Such responsive institutions deliver valuable information about society to the state, especially information on policy implementation and social conflicts, and thus improve government responsiveness and state legitimacy. I also explore patterns of response strategies and find that the government would like to solve problems and adjust policies for livelihood issues, explain situations to the public regarding officials’ behaviour, and reframe public opinion for collective action related issues. Contrary to the traditional responsiveness model, which depends on sustaining voluntary public participation through certain official channels, this institution depends more on netizens’ online expression and local governments’ co-optation with cyberspace to proactively collect information. Finally, by comparing Vietnam, Russia, and China, I also show the generalizability of China’s information management and online government responsiveness institutions, suggesting a broader trend for other authoritarian regimes around the world. -
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.-
dc.subject.lcshCyberspace - Government policy - China-
dc.subject.lcshInternet - China-
dc.subject.lcshSocial media - China-
dc.titleA long march for survival : the internet, social media and government accountability in China-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.description.thesisnameDoctor of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelDoctoral-
dc.description.thesisdisciplinePolitics and Public Administration-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.date.hkucongregation2018-
dc.identifier.mmsid991044046593103414-

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