China’s Digital Economy and Its Place in Socialist History

Lengen, Samuel (2018) China’s Digital Economy and Its Place in Socialist History. In: The Digital Economy: Ubercapitalism or Postcapitalism?, Strand Campus, King’s College London.

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As Chinese production numbers fell during the aftermath of the world financial crisis of 2008, hopes for sustained economic growth increasingly came to rest in a booming digital economy. This paper draws on ethnographic research in China’s digital economy to explore how the Chinese government envisions digital innovation within its socialist system of government. The success of the digital economy in China points to the Chinese government’s ambivalent Internet politics of limiting the freedom of expression online while striving to create a more “open” and “creative” economic environment. Since the late 1970s, China has sought to incorporate developments in Silicon Valley’s technology entrepreneurship into its national economy. Most recently, the country was swept up in a project to emulate the Californian model and foster an Internet startup culture capable of innovating the national economy from the bottom up. This paper investigates this development by exploring the recent establishment of a Beijing startup cluster. In this government-backed startup environment, the creative potential of digital media—one heavily regulated as the government tries to ban memes, censor social media, and blacklist keywords—reappears as a potential source of economic innovation and development. Created alongside national economic policies of “mass entrepreneurship” and “Internet plus,” the startup cluster makes evident how the Chinese government seeks to align new digital trends with socialist history and teleology.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Other)
Keywords: digital economy, china, policy
Faculty: ARCHIVED Faculty of Arts, Law & Social Sciences (until September 2018)
Depositing User: Samuel Lengen
Date Deposited: 11 Jul 2018 14:40
Last Modified: 12 Nov 2021 14:41

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