Governing by the Internet: Local Governance in the Digital Age

Journal of Chinese Governance 3:1(2018): 67-85. DOI: 10.1080/23812346.2018.1429175

39 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2018

See all articles by Rongbin Han

Rongbin Han

University of Georgia

Linan Jia

University of Georgia

Date Written: March 28, 2018

Abstract

In what ways has the expansion of the Internet transformed local governance in China? Through analysis of over 2000 leaked official emails from a district-level Internet propaganda office, the article finds that the Internet has served more as a tool to enhance control rather than to improve governance at the local level. In particular, local authorities have prioritized Internet commentating tasks assigned from upper levels while keeping a close watch on negative publicity of both national and local problems. Their occasional responses to online complaints are often more likely meant to satisfy superiors and pacify the public rather than to address citizens’ concerns. Such a “ruling by the Internet” strategy may bring short-term gains such as preserving social stability on the surface, but may harm the regime in the long run with accumulated social dissatisfaction.

Keywords: China, Internet, local governance, responsiveness, accountability, control

Suggested Citation

Han, Rongbin and Jia, Linan, Governing by the Internet: Local Governance in the Digital Age (March 28, 2018). Journal of Chinese Governance 3:1(2018): 67-85. DOI: 10.1080/23812346.2018.1429175, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3151939

Rongbin Han (Contact Author)

University of Georgia ( email )

322 Candler Hall
Athens, GA Georgia 30602-6254
United States

Linan Jia

University of Georgia ( email )

Athens, GA 30602-6254
United States

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