Public Discourse and "Virtual" Political Participation in the PRC: The Impact of the Internet

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Abstract

What impact has the Internet had on authoritarian regimes? This paper addresses the issue of the changing nature of public opinion as well as "virtual" political participation in China via an empirical analysis of messages posted on the on-line forum of Qiangguo luntan (Strong Country Forum). The discussions center on four separate yet intertwined categories of issues: (1) the "san-nong" issue: nongye (agriculture), nongcun (village), and nongmin (farmers); (2) employment and social security; (3) the role and reform of the National People's Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC); and (4) the rule of law. By contrasting the official coverage of the themes that appear in Renmin ribao (People's Daily), an exploration of Qiangguo luntan has the potential to reveal political meanings that demonstrate changing public discourse in the PRC after a quarter century of reform and opening up. The paper concludes that a nascent public space for "virtual" civic engagement, albeit with Chinese characteristics, can be found in on-line forums in China.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-38
Number of pages38
JournalIssues and Studies
Volume39
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2003 Dec

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

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