Managing digital contention in China

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores new developments in cyber content management strategies in China by highlighting the rise of participatory, peer-to-peer censoring practices, and examining how the People's Daily have responded to the contentious events in the top 20 public opinion incidents of 2016, to illustrate how official media uses different types of management strategies to mediate and demobilise contention, on top of information containment strategies such as censorship. I also discuss briefly the creation of a Digital United Front which seeks to incorporate social influencers and cyber elites into mainstream political institutions such as the CPPCC.

Not only do these strategies further undermine the formation of a political locus opposite the state, they continue to subsume previously oppositional narratives into grander narratives of stability and national progress. Online political participation in Chinese cyberspace must seek further paternalistic protection from Party authorities in order to legitimise their contention. Although this strengthens the Party-state's claim to legitimacy, ultimately this weakens the emergence of civil society in China as the only form of contention that can survive is those that are legitimised by the Party-state, and the political space oppositional to the state remain closed off.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)218-238
JournalJournal of Cyber Policy
Issue number2
Early online date7 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Journal of Cyber Policy on 7 April 2020, available online at:


  • Censorship
  • China
  • internet governance


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