Supervision for the middleman? : active citizenship as basis for good governance in the P.R. China

David Kurt Herold

Research output: Unpublished conference presentation (presented paper, abstract, poster)Conference presentation (not published in journal/proceeding/book)Academic researchpeer-review


The central governments of China have historically always been remote, and largely uninvolved in the lives of ordinary citizens, and even in the People's Republic of China, "heaven is high, and the emperor far away". Local officials, and their personal 'convictions' have often disregarded communications from the central government, and superseded national guidelines, regulations, or even laws, leading to local inequalities, the potential for corruption, etc.||The explosive growth of the number of Internet users in China, and the relative freedom enjoyed by these Chinese netizens (interNET + citIZENS) has led to many complaints against local officials online. Netizens have convicted local officials of fraud and corruption online, attacked them over public misbehavior, criticized them for specific remarks, scrutinized criminal investigations, etc.||Instead of silencing the online critics of party members and government officials, though, the central government appears to welcome their criticism, and is willing to act upon evidence supplied by netizens online. In marked contrast to the treatment of offline protest actions and dissidents, online dissent has been accepted by the highest levels of the PRC government, with even Hu Jintao inviting critical comments online.||In a government White Paper, published in June 2010, the central government formally approved of the Internet as an appropriate channel of communication between ordinary citizens and the highest levels of government. As this paper will demonstrate, this attitude of the central government towards the Internet could be seen as a new form of social contract between the government and the governed in the People's Republic of China that provides for direct channels of communication between the central government and ordinary citizens as a way of ensuring good governance at the local level through the officially accepted supervision of local officials by active citizens – 'active Citizenship' replacing the unenforceable 'rule of law'.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


  • Citizenship
  • China


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