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Parsing the Effect of the Internet on Regime Support in China

  • Min Tang (a1) and Narisong Huhe (a2)

Although the internet is severely censored in China, negative reporting and critical deliberations of political institutions and policy issues, especially low-profile ones, have been abundant in cyberspace. Given such a mixed pattern of online information, this study explores the complexity of the effect of the internet on regime support by parsing it into direct effect and indirect effect. It argues that the internet indirectly erodes its viewers’ overall support for the authoritarian regime by decreasing their evaluation of government performance. The findings from a mediation analysis of a Beijing sample support this argument. The result of one analysis also indicates that the direct effect of internet use on regime support can be positive. Such findings about the effect of the internet in China help advance our understanding of both political and theoretical implications of the spread of the internet in authoritarian countries.

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Government and Opposition
  • ISSN: 0017-257X
  • EISSN: 1477-7053
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