Can the Internet and social media change the Party?

Authored by: David Bandurski

Routledge Handbook of the Chinese Communist Party

Print publication date:  August  2017
Online publication date:  August  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138684430
eBook ISBN: 9781315543918
Adobe ISBN:


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In March 2000, speaking about a newly minted agreement for China’s entry into the World Trade Organization, US President Bill Clinton asked his audience at Johns Hopkins University to imagine how the elimination of tariffs on information technology products might lead to a more open society in China. “We know how much the Internet has changed America, and we are already an open society,” he said. “Imagine how much it could change China” (Clinton 2000: 404). Clinton then introduced an analogy that for years to come would add a note of whimsy to the firmly held belief that the Internet would lead inevitably to political change in the world’s most populous country, and that state restrictions were powerless to stem the tide of democratic progress. China’s attempts to crack down on the Internet, Clinton said, were “like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall” (Clinton 2000: 404).

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