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Politics and public opinion in China: the impact of the Internet, 1993-2003

By Chin-fu Hung


This dissertation is to provide empirical evidence as well as in-depth discussions to reflect the theme of new technologies like the Internet and its impact and implications on the political systems and public opinion in the Chinese context. It is the premise that technology can transform the mode of political communication and that this in turn can change the nature of political participation, as well as the milieu in which political discussions are made.\ud This project concludes that the Internet has not at this stage fundamentally transformed China's political system, let alone caused a sudden political regime collapse and engendered a sweeping democratisation process. The Internet is, however, expanding people's minds, facilitating public discourse, and pushing for more transparent and accountable governance. In other words, the Chinese government is argued as not being as much in control of public debates on the Internet as it is of debates in other forms of media channels; the government cannot control and manipulate public opinion as much as it has traditionally done.\ud This work has contributed to a more systematic picture of public opinion on political issues with documented examples, thanks to the Internet. Besides, this research has shed light on how to measure the impact of the Internet upon political debates, and to document the political impact of the Internet. Moreover, this dissertation highlights a usually neglected phenomenon that researching the political change or transformation in China can also be conducted form different aspects like the impact of Information Communication Technologies on its political system. The conventional approaches may be enriched thanks to the advent of new technologies in the increasingly networked, globalised and marketised world

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