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The Contentious Public SphereLaw, Media, and Authoritarian Rule in China$
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Ya-Wen Lei

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691196145

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691196145.001.0001

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Extending Liberalization from the Press to the Internet

Extending Liberalization from the Press to the Internet

(p.104) 5 Extending Liberalization from the Press to the Internet
The Contentious Public Sphere

Ya-Wen Lei

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the connection between the press and the Internet sectors. It discusses how and why the major Internet companies providing news service and social media in China became a thorn in the side of the Chinese state, despite the state's efforts to control them. Existing studies of rising public opinion in China tend to focus on how technological properties of the Internet can empower citizens to bring about social change and how the Chinese state has attempted to forestall such change. Such work tends to pay less attention to the ways in which particular contexts mediate and moderate the technological effects of the Internet. The chapter traces the restructuring of the media field in China, especially the development of the online news market, following the state's decision to connect the country to the Internet. As the chapter demonstrates, preexisting conditions in the newspaper market played a key—but often neglected—role in shaping China's online news market and discursive arena.

Keywords:   Internet companies, liberalization, Chinese press, news, social media, social change, online news, newspaper market, Chinese state

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