Programme Paper

Project: Asia Programme

Shaun Breslin and Simon Shen
  • Within the proviso that one party rule should be maintained, Chinese politics is becoming more pluralistic. The internet is playing a key role in facilitating this increased articulation of interests.
  • There is no strong evidence to date that this is leading towards Western-style democratisation. Instead, popular online discussions are dominated by broadly-defined nationalist concerns.
  • Internet nationalism tends to be largely event driven and responsive (though with some signs of a move towards agenda setting). The main sources of internet nationalism relate to external interference in issues of Chinese sovereignty and/or perceived external criticisms of the Chinese state or its people.
  • The USA and Japan provide the main focus of attention. Relations with the USA are often a key determinant of how other countries/regions are perceived in online communities.
  • There is evidence that internet nationalism has a real, albeit limited, impact on policy making and international relations. The spread of Chinese internet nationalism is reaching beyond China and increasingly relating to other public opinions or political processes.