Localism in Internet governance: the rise of China's provincial web

Angela Xiao Wu , Luzhou Li

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    Often analysing ‘the Chinese Internet’ as a national entity, existing research has overlooked China's provincially oriented web portals, which have supplied information and entertainment to substantial user populations. Through the lenses of the critical political economy of media and critical media industry studies, this article traces the ascendance of China's provincial web from the late 1990s to the early 2000s by analysing industry yearbooks, official reports, conference records, personal memoirs, archived webpages, and user traffic data. We uncover interactions between Internet service providers, legacy media organizations, commercial Internet companies, and the central and local governments – each driven by discrete economic interests, political concerns, and imaginaries about the new technology. Delineating the emergence and consolidation of China's provincial web, our study foregrounds the understudied political economy of online content regionalization at scale. Further, it sheds new light on Chinese media policy, Internet governance, and Internet histories, especially the widely noted conservative turn of online cultures after the mid-2010s.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)262-282
    Number of pages21
    JournalChina Information
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


    • cyber sovereignty
    • Internet governance
    • localism
    • media policy
    • propaganda
    • regionalization

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