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    Rights statement: This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in International Affairs following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version JINGHAN ZENG; China's date with big data: will it strengthen or threaten authoritarian rule?, International Affairs, Volume 92, Issue 6, 1 November 2016, Pages 1443–1462, https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-2346.12750 is available online at: https://academic.oup.com/ia/article/92/6/1443/2688355

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China's date with big data: will it strengthen or threaten authoritarian rule?

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/11/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>International Affairs
Issue number6
Volume92
Number of pages20
Pages (from-to)1443-1462
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The rise of big data has brought with it enormous possibilities, for better or worse. In China, the government has been enthusiastically preparing for the coming of the era of big data. This article examines how the authoritarian regime in China has been employing big data to improve its governance and to move towards a Big Brother 2.0' model. The regime has combined cooptation with coercive control to exploit digital technology, in order to maximize its utility and thus maintain authoritarian rule. Moreover, existing debates on digital technology largely focus on the changing power structures between state and society, but neglect power structures within regimes and their implications for authoritarianism. This article argues that the use of massive digital data may backfire against the authoritarian regime as it may change the power structure within the state. That is to say, efforts to embrace big data may also undermine the authoritarian rule. A more accurate understanding of the Chinese authoritarian regime's resilience and vulnerability in the information age will help us grasp the essence of China's rise as a fragile global power.

Bibliographic note

This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in International Affairs following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version JINGHAN ZENG; China's date with big data: will it strengthen or threaten authoritarian rule?, International Affairs, Volume 92, Issue 6, 1 November 2016, Pages 1443–1462, https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-2346.12750 is available online at: https://academic.oup.com/ia/article/92/6/1443/2688355