Social Media in China

Between an emerging civil society and commercialization

Authored by: Jens Damm

Routledge Handbook of East Asian Popular Culture

Print publication date:  November  2016
Online publication date:  December  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415749428
eBook ISBN: 9781315643106
Adobe ISBN: 9781317285014


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The unprecedented rise of social media in China, involving for various reasons the use of homegrown and localized applications instead of global ones, has its origin in the decision by the Chinese state in the late 1990s (Damm and Thomas 2006; Leibold 2011; F. Liu 2011; Xiao 2011) to foster the informatization (xinxihua) of its society in order to leapfrog economic development, to place China among the front ranks of global, economic, and political players, and to control the content so as to preempt any potential threat to social and political stability. This has led to a cat and mouse game being played between the state—the CCP (Chinese Communist Party)—and netizens who use the social media applications for commercial purposes, for interaction, and for critical engagement with the state (Yu 2011).

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