Internet Governance in China: The Network Governance Approach

Chin, Yik Chan

The advent of the Internet and social media has decentralised authority over networking, and national government faces not only the challenge of the vast volume of communication flows but also the increasing decision-making and governance power over the Internet by private companies and civil society organizations, which constitute a new locus of authority. How has national government engaged with those non-state actors in Internet governance? This chapter incorporates the network governance approach in examining the patterns of private-state-civil collaboration in governance of the Internet in China. Network governance approach is characterised by its encouragement of consultation and coordination as a way of pre-empting conflicts or to solve problems and of binding unofficial and organic social actors together not through legal procedures but social ties. Analytically, this chapter treats the “The Beijing District Joint Anti Online Rumor Platform (BJARP)” governance network as the unit of analysis and as a positive mechanism of coordination in response to societal and technological progress and to failures of market, and failure of hierarchical coordination in refuting rumours. It concludes that in order to have a better and impartial understanding of the complex relationships between the state and society in Internet governance in contemporary China, researchers not only need to examine the roles of state and party and their policies and regulations, but also need to conduct empirical researches about the roles of social organisations and private actors in the processes of governance and policy-making. This chapter has made significant efforts in filling up this gap and contributing to a better understanding of Internet governance in China with its empirical research and critical analysis.