China’s New Media Dilemma: The Profit in Online Dissent

replay Event

Thursday, June 27
12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. EDT
(Lunch served 12:00pm)

National Endowment for Democracy
1025 F Street NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20004

Louisa Chiang, Independent Researcher
Sarah Cook, Senior Research Analyst for East Asia, Freedom House

Mark Nelson, Senior Director, Center for International Media Assistance

Event Description:

Studies on the development of Chinese media often diverge greatly in answering the question of which force will prevail: the government, with its unparalleled capacity to curb free expression, or liberal voices, aided by new media.

According to an upcoming CIMA report, that question may be contingent on technological and commercial factors that are now in flux. Author Louisa Chiang gathers the evidence showing that China’s homegrown media platforms have responded to market incentives by subtly shielding users from certain forms of censorship and repression online.

To be sure, the Chinese state retains unprecedented power to coerce, manipulate, and co-opt the companies and technologies at the core of the country’s digital sphere. Yet, the persistent success of new media and creative use of the online space by liberal voices raises questions about the limits of that power. Has the debate over the role of new communications technology in China’s political system really been decided?