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Disrupting the Chinese State: New Actors and New Factors

In: Asiascape: Digital Asia
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  • 1 University of LeidenSteenschuur 25, 2311ES Leiden
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Abstract

How does digital technology influence the Chinese state? This paper focuses on two elements that are rapidly transforming the modus operandi of governance. First, it argues that a strategic public-private nexus is forming at the heart of the Party-state, as an increasing symbiosis is developing between the huge private companies that dominate the Chinese internet and the political sphere. Second, it explores how new data-gathering and -processing capabilities, including ‘big data’, enhance its governing capabilities. Particular attention is given to the social credit system. Unsurprisingly, China’s control-oriented government sees this as an attractive opportunity to enhance its ability to monitor the activities of citizens, businesses, and government officials. These two developments, from a central point of view, may counter some of the perennial problems plaguing the Chinese state, including centre-periphery fragmentation and stunted information flows between government actors. Nevertheless, existing pathologies will likely be reproduced in the digital space.

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