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Will China’s new national search engine, ChinaSo, fare better than  “The Little Search Engine that Couldn’t”?

Will China’s new national search engine, ChinaSo, fare better than “The Little Search Engine that Couldn’t”?

Users and critics remain skeptical of state-run search engines. The 2011 launch of Jike, the Chinese state-run search engine, received a mixed response; and the jury is still out for its 2014 successor ‘SoChina’. Min Jiang and Kristen Okamoto discuss the politics and symbolism of national search engines in their article National identity, ideological apparatus, or panopticon? A case study of the Chinese national search engine Jike, published in Policy and Internet 6 (1) 89-107.

How easy is it to research the Chinese web?

By 2015, the proportion of Chinese language Internet users is expected to exceed the proportion of English language users. But how easy is it for researchers to find or request content and traffic data from the major Chinese websites for research? Han-Teng Liao discusses the issues of government control and intervention, public opinion monitoring, language and data tools (and the challenges of processing Chinese language texts), narratives and propaganda, and how to identify geographic information from Chinese Web data. With some robots thrown in too…

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Is China shaping the Internet in Africa?

There are concerns that, just as Western countries have tried to promote their models of news media in Africa, China will try to export its own. However, no studies to date have proved this to be the case. Iginio Gagliardone (University of Oxford) discusses the themes of his paper “Partner, prototype or persuader? China’s renewed media engagement with Ghana”, which proposes a framework to understand Chinese engagement in the African mediasphere in terms of its original contributions, not simply as a negative of the impression left by the West.

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Uncovering the patterns and practice of censorship in Chinese news sites

China keeps sliding down the Press Freedom Index — now languishing in 174th place out of 179. While Internet censorship has attracted much attention from scholars and institutes, including IP blocking, keywords filtering and deletion in social media, censorial practices in news websites have never been comprehensively described or quantified. In their paper, “Unmasking News in Cyberspace: Examining Censorship Patterns of News Portal Sites in China” Sonya Y. Song (with Fei Shen, Mike Z. Yao, and Steven S. Wildman) present the first empirical study to systematically examine news deletion on major news portals in China.

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The complicated relationship between Chinese Internet users and their government

The Chinese government has been incredibly successful and sophisticated in the way it has established control over the Internet in China, both over web content and public discourses about the Internet’s function in Chinese society. David Herold (Hong Kong Polytechnic University) discusses the results of a research project into how students in Shanghai talk about the Internet, arguing that even when criticising government controls and censorship, they do not genuinely challenge the status quo, but accept it as unavoidable and without alternatives.

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How are internal monitoring systems being used to tackle corruption in the Chinese public administration?

Digital surveillance technologies allow for monitoring of public employees to an extent previously impossible and thus hold great promise as a cure for corruption in China: Premier Wen Jiabao estimated in 2008 that for a five-year period the amount of misused government funds was around 400 billion RMB (about 40 billion GBP). Jesper Schlæger (Sichuan University) discusses the internal anti-corruption systems that have been developed by the Chinese government over the past twenty years in order to promote transparency and “governing in the sunlight.”

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Chinese Internet users share the same values concerning free speech, privacy, and control as their Western counterparts

The OII’s Gillian Bolsover discusses the results of a survey of Internet users in more than 60 countries reported in a paper Social Foundations of the Internet in China and the New Internet World: A Cross-National Comparative Perspective co-written with William H. Dutton, Ginette Law and Soumitra Dutta. They suggest that users from China and other ‘emerging nations’ share many of the same fundamental values, such as freedom of expression and online privacy, as users from more established Internet nations.

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Is China changing the Internet, or is the Internet changing China?

The global shift in the population of Internet users from North America and Europe to ’emerging’ nations such as China, is one of the most dynamic social factors promising to shape Internet policy and practice in the coming years. Will the Internet remain free and global, or become increasingly controlled and fragmented by national boundaries? The OII’s William Dutton, co-convenor of the ICA preconference “China and the New Internet World” discusses the top-line questions that informed the discussions.

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