Information Technology, Political Participation, and the Evolution of Chinese Policymaking
Journal of Contemporary China, Vol. 21, May 2012
30 Pages Posted: 28 Dec 2011 Last revised: 13 Jul 2014
Date Written: December 27, 2011
Although information technology is playing a fundamental role in China’s political development, relatively little is known about the contours of online participation in government policymaking. This article presents the results of a survey of individuals who in 2008 used the Internet to submit comments on the central government’s plan to reform the nation’s health system. The responses demonstrate that participants were, in the aggregate, well educated professionals who live in urban areas and were especially likely to work in the medical and health industry. Substantial numbers of participants commented as a means of expressing concerns about the overall direction of reform, as well as with specific elements of the proposal itself. Participants generally anticipated no more than a modest degree of government responsiveness, although high expectations were held for comments from government officials and individuals who work in the medical and health industry. Overall, these attributes and attitudes are illustrative of the evolution, as opposed to transformation, of the political system that is occurring in online contexts where neither democratization nor the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party is of immediate salience to government officials and societal stakeholders.
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