SHAPING THE INTERNET IN CHINA Evolution of Political Control over Network Infrastructure and Content

  • Harwit E
  • Clark D
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This article examines three key factors that shape how the network is con- trolled in the PRC. First, it discusses physical network control, asking who built the actual data pipelines through which information flows, and who now regulates and profits from these systems? And how do different parts of the government as well as the private sector vie for control of the network infra- structure? Second, we examine network content control. Who is able to post and send information across the network, and what political limits are placed on this content? What government/private sector dynamics affect competi- tion for web audiences, and how do revenue flows affect content-providing companies? How do user demographics determine content, and how does user reaction to content shape sociological patterns that, in turn, influence the degree of government control over what appears on computer screens? Fi- nally, we also consider the element of foreign influence on the network: how does foreign web content affect Chinese viewers, and what are prospects for change in the near future? How will China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) affect foreign participation in managing the physical network?

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  • Eric Harwit

  • Duncan Clark

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