Redefining Digital Diplomacy: Modelling Business Diplomacy by Internet Companies in China

In: The Hague Journal of Diplomacy

This article develops a conceptual framework for analyzing the international activities of internet companies. It focuses specifically on the question of whether internet companies’ activities are examples of business diplomacy, by examining cases of conflict between corporate actors and the Chinese government and their negotiations under a divided set of loyalties. In so doing, the article seeks to re-examine notions of sovereignty as applied to cyberspace, and to engage in a conceptual discussion of critical issues on the role of business diplomacy in the internet governance debate. Ultimately, it argues that while their activities are more commercial than diplomatic on the whole, internet companies cannot be neutral actors outside of international politics. The article thus makes a case for greater engagement by companies in business diplomacy on a country-to-country basis.

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