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Cyberdualism in China: The Political Implications of Internet Exposure of Educated Youth

Dr. Wang Shiru, Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, CUHK

Abstract: This study examines the extent to which exposure to digital communication affects the political beliefs of Chinese university students. Visitors to government websites in China are more supportive of the regime and less democratically oriented than others. The positive perceptions of the Internet as an intermediary platform to enhance mutual understandings between government officials and netizens also boost regime support. The Internet helps the Chinese government not only by increasing exposure to E-government but also by promoting an image of open government. By contrast, those exposed to pluralistic horizontal online information sources agree more with the basic democratic norms than others. A belief that the blogs or microblogs of government officials can promote an open government is also positively correlated with democratic orientation. Therefore, both actual Internet exposure and beliefs in the influence of Internet exposure on governance simultaneously shape a person’s views about the regime and democracy. Another interesting finding casts strong doubt on the conventional view that the refutation of the party state in China parallels the demand for democracy. The dichotomy of China versus democracy is observed among educated youth in China. One may support the regime out of loyalty or obligation and simultaneously believe in the core democratic norms and enthusiastically hope that China can move in that direction. By contrast, one may dislike the regime and continue to disagree with democratic norms.

Biography: Wang Shiru received her PhD in political science from Yale University and is now working as a research associate at the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, CUHK. Her research focuses on political engagement and civic values of young elites in mainland China and Hong Kong.

Time 12:00 – 13:30, Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Fee Free Admission, HK$20.00 for Lunch

Venue USC, 8/F, Tin Ka Ping Building, CUHK

Language English