Censorship without Borders: Everyday Internet Control and Censorship at the Local Governments in China

China has constructed a rigorous state apparatus to control its online social content. To date, research has largely focused on the central government's cyber control, but the less studied local cyberspace administrative forces are also important. The fieldwork and interviews at a county-level cyberspace administration office (CAO) in east China revealed that the local CAO had been rendered a “toothless tiger” with insufficient technology, power and labour. However, it has made up for these deficiencies by utilizing systems such as outsourced surveillance, organized mass reporting and personnel secondment. Furthermore, the local censorship workers are constantly exploited in terms of their time, digital assets, and social networks, while doing their job. The findings shed light on how censorship machines operate in local governments in China and reveal the general dynamics of how bureaucratic organizations adapt to environmental pressures.

Dr. Tony Huiquan Zhang is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Macau. He obtained his PhD degree in sociology from the University of Toronto, Canada (2018). His research focuses on political culture, political communication and Internet governance, social inequalities, and China/Asian studies. His works have appeared in peer-reviewed journals such as the British Journal of Sociology, the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, the China Quarterly, the Chinese Sociological Review, among others.

Date & time

Thu 01 Aug 2024, 11am–12.30pm


RSSS Room 3.72


Dr.Tony Zhang (University of Macau)


Richard Frank


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