China is one of the world’s most active digital societies, where netizens have influenced the government's response to several social, economic, and environmental issues. On the other hand, it also has the world’s most sophisticated state-led censorship, surveillance, and propaganda mechanism. There is enough evidence to suggest that legal, political, and technological tools to bring the cyber rhetoric in tune with the party line have been strengthened since 2013. In this context, the political echo chamber around the current Chinese leadership seems to be making the situation even more complex. The ability to track digital information has expanded the state's reach in many countries across the world. However, the Chinese party-state has used technological innovation so extensively, that it is increasingly blurring the line between information and misinformation. Active state intervention in the social, political, cultural, and even economic digital spaces is intensifying concerns about the credibility of nearly all available information. In sum, the vulnerability of digital information to state control is heightened due to restricted institutional scope and mechanism to course correct. The outcome is a centralisation of rhetoric in the cyber domain, in favour of the ruling Communist Party and the country's top leadership and anything contradicting the official line is likely to invite a backlash. This could however severely limit the party-state's capacity to receive feedback from the ground.
About the Speaker
Dr. Tilak Jha is currently an Associate Professor of Journalism at Times School of Media, Bennett University. He is former BBC Monitoring China Lead and Ex-Asian Future Leaders Scholar. He teaches papers on journalism to undergraduate, graduate, and PhD students and offers an open elective titled, "Inside China: An Indian Perspective" to engineering, management and law graduates. Dr. Jha has nearly a dozen book chapters to his credit and is a regular contributor to media, foreign relations and policy forums. He is also the Principal Investigator of a major project on water, community and technology dimensions, and is currently a Guest Editor of Springer Nature Collection on the theme of Water, Society and Governance: Local and Global Dimensions. His most recent publication is a chapter titled, "Covid-19 Wave Two: The Disinformation Challenge" (2023) in Antara Choudhury and Jayanti Dutta (eds), How India Coped with the Second Wave of COVID-19, Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
About the Chair
Dr. Usha Chandran is an Assistant Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University and Honorary Fellow, at the Institute of Chinese Studies, New Delhi. She holds a PhD in Chinese on Gender issues in China from JNU. Her major research interests include gender issues in China and comparison with India, interface between gender and language as well as popular culture, women’s subjectivity in literature, and exploring Sociological methodologies to study the Chinese society. Major publications include book chapters and journal articles. She is currently working on an authored book titled, Gender Discrimination at Work in Urban China, and an edited volume titled, Gender in Language and Expression.
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