Nowhere does the transformative power of the Internet present greater challenges or promise to governance than in China, the world’s most populous country. With over 172 million Internet users, China is undergoing an information revolution on a scale and speed unprecedented in human history. Such fundamental changes raise a number of questions about how the Internet is reshaping Chinese society. Who is benefiting from greater access to ideas and information? How is the Chinese government adapting and responding to the growing prevalence of the Internet? And what are the broader implications for civil society in China?
On December 4, the John L. Thornton China Center at Brookings hosted a discussion on the development of the Internet in China and its impact on politics and society. A distinguished panel of experts addressed trends in Internet usage, government policy, civil society development and the implications for good governance in China. Panelists included Dr. Randolph Kluver, director of the Institute for Pacific Asia and a research professor in the Department of Communication at Texas A&M University; Guo Liang, deputy director of the Center for Social Development at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS); and Dr. Guobin Yang, associate professor, Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures, Barnard College. Cheng Li, senior fellow, John L. Thornton China Center at Brookings, moderated the discussion.