Explore ANU College of Asia & Pacific research activities

Excavating China’s provincial web: online content regionalization and the state


Luzhou (Nina) Li


Online Event


Tuesday, 20 July, 2021 - 12:30 to 13:30

Based on collaborative research with Dr Angela Xiao Wu (NYU), this presentation addresses the historical development of China’s provincial web in the late 1990s and its implications for China’s internet governance today including its recent conception of cyber sovereignty.

Often analyzing “the Chinese Internet” as a national entity, existing research has overlooked China’s provincially-oriented web portals, which had supplied information and entertainment to substantial user populations.

Through the lenses of critical political economy of media and critical media industry studies, our research excavates the ascendance of China’s provincial web from the late 1990s to the early 2000s by analyzing industry yearbooks, official reports, conference records, personal memoirs, archived webpages, and user traffic data. It traces the interactions between Internet service providers, legacy media organizations, commercial Internet companies, and the central and local governments—each driven by discrete economic interests, political concerns, and imaginaries about the new technology.

Delineating the emergence and consolidation of China’s provincial web, our study foregrounds the understudied political economy of online content regionalization at scale. Further, it sheds new light on Chinese media policy, Internet governance, and Internet histories, especially the online cultures’ conservative turn widely noted after the mid-2010s.

About the speaker

Luzhou (Nina) Li is a lecturer and Australian Research Council DECRA Fellow in the School of Media, Film and Journalism at Monash University. Her research focuses on digital media studies, global media industries, media policy, political economy and media history, and Chinese media. She is the author of Zoning China: Online Video, Popular Culture, and the State (MIT Press, 2019). She serves as the Vice Chair of the Communication Law and Policy Division of the International Communications Association (ICA).

Change of venue/medium of delivery

Due to changing circumstances this event will be delivered online only. Please register to attend the Zoom webinar here.

Image credit: Cartogram of internet users in East Asia, 2008, by Hanteng (CC BY 3.0)



RegNet Communications

Venue map

Updated:  24 April, 2017/Responsible Officer:  Dean, ANU College of Asia & the Pacific/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team