Cyber Dimensions of Chinese Politics
Following the so-called Facebook and Twitter revolutions in the Arab World in 2010 and 2011, expectations ran high that the emerging microblogging sphere in China might facilitate the empowerment of local civil society and eventually initiate a political transformation. However, case studies and empirical analyses of the Chinese Internet lead to a more complex picture – one that highlights instead the symbiotic relationship between state and society. This roundtable looks at the cyber dimension of Chinese politics from three distinct perspectives: It starts with an in-depth analysis of the most recent trends in online deliberation, the steering of public opinion, as well as the possibilities and limits of the formation of a civil online sphere via Weibo/WeChat. In this vein, it also assesses the role of big data in the algorithm-based monitoring and control of society and takes a closer look at the impact of “deep learning” on the making of Chinese politics. It continues by putting these findings into the broader context of cyber conflict behavior in authoritarian versus democratic system settings. It finally concludes with a theory-guided evaluation of AI innovation and the future of China’s “smart city” and “smart government” solutions, linking online and offline governance dimensions. Roundtable Participants include Nele Noesselt, Fangzhou Lu, Gregory Moore, Jiangang Li, Xi Chen, and Sebastian Harnish.