Microblogs and the Adaptation of the Chinese Party-State's Governance Strategy



The Chinese party-state is currently adapting its governance strategy. The recent debate in China on the role of microblogs in the governance process, as documented in the reports issued by Chinese research institutes and advisory bodies, illustrates the efforts being undertaken by China's political elites to integrate microblogs into their new public management strategy. Mass protests and large-scale online criticism—voiced via microblogs—directly threaten the regime's survival. As a consequence, legitimacy is no longer regarded as being inherent, but as something that has instead to be permanently regained and reaffirmed. To increase the system's efficiency and to generate a new kind of symbolic legitimacy, China's political elites tend to base the political decision-making process on strategic calculations intended to be reflective of public online opinion. The turn toward a more responsive way of governing by the Chinese party-state demonstrates once more the adaptability of authoritarian one-party states in the digital era.