The Evolution of the Chinese Internet
Creative Visibility in the Digital Public
Shaohua Guo

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A CULTURAL REVOLUTION IN CHINA’S DIGITAL AGE

THE HISTORY OF MODERN CHINA is a history of revolution—or the potential to bring about drastic societal change.1 The opening up of China to the global Internet in 1994 immediately stirred excitement among social elites, entrepreneurs, China observers, and policymakers worldwide regarding the new possibilities created by digital technologies. Among these possibilities, the prospect of China’s radical transition into a democratic country has been the most alluring.

Early studies of the Internet in China demonstrate the placement of these high hopes on digital technologies, along with the sense of disillusionment that arose when they seemed to fail to deliver such promises. These studies fall under one of two categories: “narratives of revolution” and “narratives of closure.” Narratives of revolution address the extent to which digital technologies may drive the democratization of political systems in authoritarian regimes. Scholars have discussed, for instance, how dissident groups use the Internet to promote their political agendas and resist governmental control.2 By highlighting individual agency, this body of literature envisions the rejuvenation of a revolutionary spirit from the nascent online space that, ultimately, may facilitate the progress of democratization. In contrast, narratives of closure foreground the omnipotence of the Chinese state in its power to enforce strict control over media and society, thereby closing the space for free expression.3 In these narratives, digital technologies primarily serve the interests of the state, allowing the suffocation of free speech and the violation of human rights.

While addressing different subject matters, both narratives of revolution and narratives of closure assume that technological breakthroughs will either induce a radical break away from existing sociopolitical structures or contribute to sustaining authoritarian rule. Nevertheless, as the history of electronic inventions has shown, technological breakthrough is never a single event isolated from social needs, economic and political factors, and the technological imaginary.4 Moreover, both narratives apply the “repressive hypothesis”5 that characterizes the Chinese government and Internet users as antagonistic, the former being a monolithic force that suppresses the latter.

In her insightful study of sexuality in China, Elaine Jeffreys reveals how a prevalent interpretation of the “repressive hypothesis” conceptualizes sexual expressions as “perceived sites of resistance to official discourses.”6 However, this approach dismisses the positive role that state-affiliated actors—including administrators, media representatives, and university professors—play in creating new forms of sexual culture.7 Xiaobing Tang points out how the “dissidence hypothesis,” a popular view that “presupposes any expression of criticism voiced in China to be an act of political dissidence against a repressive regime,”8 offers a reductive interpretation of Chinese visual culture. Internet studies and popular commentaries on the subject of digital media in China frequently reiterate this rhetoric, which tends to reinforce the prevalent ideological demarcations between democracy and autocracy, between freedom of speech and governmental control. The binary opposition between the state and its citizens not only ignores the reality of a more sophisticated interplay between the two, but also results in a narrowly defined, politicized study of the Chinese Internet that neglects the daily experiences of netizens.

As China has moved away from totalitarianism toward hegemonic rule, the state has prioritized using a system of “bargaining and reciprocity”9 over the adoption of coercive measures to reach a consensus with multiple parties. Under the ruling logic of “responsive authoritarianism,”10 the Chinese state dynamically makes adjustments to cope with the changing socioeconomic environment. Media have not only played a pivotal role in the process of “manufactur[ing] consent,”11 they have also gained a considerable amount of bargaining power and autonomy from the Party-state. This dynamic process of negotiation opens up opportunities for the emergence of new narratives and social norms that may align with state interests at some times, while at other times they may be oppositional to official discourses.12

Chinese Internet studies in recent years have strived to move beyond the aforementioned binary narratives and investigate how the intricate dynamics between the state, semi-official forces, and nonstate actors have jointly catalyzed China’s technological modernization process. Scholarly works have addressed the reinvented modes of state governance online,13 the political economy of new media sectors,14 and the complexity of state-society relations.15 Literary and communications scholars have studied the ways in which the online space constitutes a crucial site for civic engagement, leisure activities, and the rejuvenation of creative writing.16 Delving into various forms of digital literary experiments, including narrative poetry, microfiction, and erotic fiction, Michel Hockx analyzes how the transgressive dimension of online literature challenges publishing norms and pushes the limits of individual expression.17 Heather Inwood addresses how China’s media spaces revive the production, circulation, and consumption of poetry, a conventionally high-brow genre.18 In contrast, Jin Feng examines the enormous popularity of Internet romance fiction, and analyzes how romance readers and writers construct their identities, sometimes by challenging the patriarchal system and other times by aligning with it.19 The collaborative work of Haomin Gong and Xin Yang covers a wide range of Internet phenomena, from online spoofing to Internet literature and its adaptation to visual formats.20

Despite these insightful works, little critical attention has been devoted to how and why an ingenious Internet culture has flourished in China, under a seemingly repressive authoritarian regime that straddles socialist legacies and a global capitalist economy. In this respect, this book addresses the ambivalence, nuances, and paradoxes surrounding the Chinese Internet. I define the Chinese Internet as a product of the ways in which Chinese-language users navigate digital spaces and make sense of their everyday lives. Indeed, “netizen” (wangmin, “net citizen”), the term by which Internet users in China refer to themselves, already denotes the strong sense of entitlement to the online space that has emerged since 1994. These netizens’ active engagement with the Internet, as both a technology and cultural form, constitutes the primary driving force behind the vitality of Chinese popular culture. As such, this book investigates the cultural dimension of Internet use through the four most dynamic discursive spaces to emerge over the past two decades in China (1994–2019): the bulletin board system, the blog, the microblog (Weibo), and WeChat (Weixin). The creation of these digital platforms not only showcases the local appropriation of global technologies in China but also exemplifies how Internet users’ mundane activities hold significant potential for forging politically minded citizens at a micro level. As these four applications constitute the main veins of the developmental history of China’s Internet, a systematic investigation of digital cultural formation deriving from these platforms will cover the major trends, controversies, and idiosyncrasies of the Chinese Internet.

Central to this book’s inquiry are the ways in which culture has been redefined, reappropriated, and reshaped in China’s digital era, and how developments in technological features have changed the function of culture accordingly. As Raymond Williams writes, culture is “a particular way of life which expresses certain meanings and values not only in art and learning, but also in institutions and ordinary behaviour.”21 Everyday life is not only “the site in which the popular meanings and uses of new media are negotiated and played out,”22 but is itself constantly transformed by new technologies. In detailing Internet users’ daily experiences, I foreground the interconnections of these four platforms as well as their roles in promoting user-generated content, configuring new modes of publicity, and shaping emerging forms of public culture in contemporary society. I argue that the vitality of Chinese digital culture is rooted in the dynamic process of negotiation, collaboration, and contestation enacted by the interplay of diverse agents, including the state, cultural institutions, commercial entities, and Internet users. These actors compete for discursive legitimacy—defined by their deployment of discursive strategies, mobilization tactics, and established institutional or cultural authority. Their competition constitutes the primary driving force of digital innovation in China. By delineating this process of competition for discursive power among multifarious players, this book highlights the pivotal roles that cultural history, technological platforms, and individual agency have played in shaping the sociopolitical meanings of the Chinese Internet.

Next, I provide a historical backdrop for this study by giving an overview of the state’s role in engineering the transformation of Chinese media and society.

Censoring Culture, Engineering Culture

Since the founding of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1921, literature and the arts have been essential components of the CCP’s “mass line” policy, and have played a vital role in mobilizing and educating the masses. In 1942, Mao Zedong’s famous “Talks at the Conference on Literature and Art” in Yan’an reinforced the importance of mass line policy, which constituted a turning point in modern Chinese literature and culture. Mao emphasized that literature and the arts should serve the revolution and the people, as represented by workers, peasants, soldiers, and the urban petty bourgeoisie. The political stance of literary and artistic works matters more than their intrinsic qualities. The “Talks” were subsequently canonized and treated as the ultimate guideline for literary and artistic policies since the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949.23 Taking the Soviet cultural system as its model, the state eliminated private ownership and established cultural institutions to exert political control over the production of art. The founding in 1949 of the Film Bureau and the All-China Federation of Literary and Art Workers (renamed the Chinese Writers’ Association in 1953) illustrates these endeavors to control at the central and provincial levels.24 From 1949 to 1976, amidst political upheaval, the state owned, controlled, and financed all media organizations, including newspapers, journals, publishing houses, radio stations, movie studios, and TV stations. Cultural works were used primarily as ideological tools. The severe decline in the production of artistic and literary works reached its height during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966–76). Notably, even during this chaotic historical period, authorities demonstrated their ambition to “invent a new mass culture” by reforming Peking operas and encouraging amateur participation in the process of cultural production.25

Mao’s death in 1976 and the subsequent change of political leadership ushered in a new era in modern Chinese history. Since 1978, China has launched a series of economic reforms. Media commercialization has been an integral part of this process. The watershed moment was the removal of the restrictions on media advertising in 1978, followed by the appearance of the first TV advertising on the Shanghai-based Dragon TV in the same year. This officially marked the recognition of media space as a tradable commodity. Subsequently, the state-led economic reforms have fostered a fundamental change from perceiving cultural products as enlightening and ideological tools to viewing them as consumable goods. With the exception of a few central Communist Party organs, the state began to cut back on its subsidization of media organizations and required them to gain financial independence. The Chinese state also launched a series of campaigns to promote the cultivation and consumption of popular culture, after realizing that popular culture was conducive to furthering economic reforms.26 Then, following China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001, Jiang Zemin, the then–secretary general of the CCP, distinguished “cultural undertakings” (wenhua shiye) from “cultural industry” (wenhua chanye) in his report to the Sixteenth National Party Congress. The notion of “cultural industry” marked the official recognition of cultural production as a commercial activity and enterprise.27 In July 2003, the Party-state started a reform program that aimed to shift “the culture sector, including the media, from the periphery of policy-making to the core.”28 Since 2004, the culture industry has experienced an annual growth of 15 to 20 percent.29 In the twelfth Five-Year Plan (2011–15), the state envisioned the cultural sector to be China’s “pillar industry,” which “contributes five per cent or more of the mainland’s annual gross domestic product.”30 China’s thirteenth Five-Year Plan (2016–20) further emphasized the leading role that innovation plays in science and technology, and propagated the slogan “created in China” with an emphasis on “technological innovation and cultural creativity.”31

This overview of China’s strategic plan demonstrates the flexible means by which the state has defined culture and its functions at different times. Accordingly, the Chinese state has assumed a variety of roles in its efforts to capitalize on culture, acting not only as a censor and guardian of social norms and value systems or a tool for propagating official ideologies, but also as a facilitator during the entire transformative process. To echo Jing Wang’s point, an investigation of “the mutually constitutive relationship between state policies and popular social discourses”32 is fundamental to understanding the cultural dynamics of the contemporary era. The development of the field of popular culture, in which the Internet soon arose as a vital player, has become indispensable with the state’s vision of culture as an industry.

Structural Transformation of the Cultural Field

Since the 1980s, the restructuring of the cultural field33 has transformed media organizations from government mouthpieces into self-financed business enterprises at the central, provincial, and prefectural levels. In the field of cinematic production, film reform brought about a total institutional restructuring that started at the level of distribution and exhibition and later extended into production.34 The ultimate goal was to decentralize the state-run film industry, grant local distributors more financial autonomy and responsibility, and define cinema as an industrial product. Many state-owned film studios carried significant debt and had to adopt reform measures to fix their dire financial situations, including seeking private funding and opportunities for coproduction with international players.35 Meanwhile, Hollywood’s reentry into the mainland market in 1994 sparked a nationalistic concern about the viability of the domestic movie industry. Both film critics and industry practitioners made a populist turn, and considered producing films for popular entertainment as the only solution to get the movie industry out of its financial trouble. Feng Xiaogang’s New Year Pictures of the late 1990s, soon followed by the 2001 release of China’s first blockbuster film, Hero, are some early examples of successful commercial movies. The prominence of commercial filmmaking increased in the 2010s, along with the popularization of such new concepts as “IP movies” and “fan movies” (fensi dianying). Both terms illustrate the alliance that arose between the Internet and the movie industry, and celebrate the phenomenal consuming power of fans, since the cinematic adaptation of existing online works—known as “IP” (intellectual property)—that already enjoyed a strong fan base was often found to be commercially successful. In this era, the artistic quality of movies became less relevant. In the meantime, propaganda movies exhibited a significant shift to incorporate commercial elements, such as star cameos and special effects, in an effort to create greater visual appeal.36 Simply put, from the mid-1990s onward, the entertainment function of Chinese cinema was greatly enhanced.

The surge of the entertainment tide is even more evident in the television industry, which was formerly monopolized by the state-sponsored China Central Television (CCTV), the only national-level broadcaster in China. Under the rule of the market, all television stations at the provincial and municipal levels have gone through reforms to become financially self-reliant. Commercial advertising has come to constitute nearly 95 percent of television stations’ revenues.37 As news programs are still heavily controlled by the state, entertainment-oriented programs flourish on regional TV stations. Less restrained by propaganda aims, channels such as Hunan Satellite TV, Zhejiang Satellite TV, and Jiangsu Satellite TV have taken the lead and demonstrated a greater degree of ingenuity in creating entertainment shows, producing TV dramas, and attracting a global audience. Meanwhile, CCTV has transformed into a giant media conglomerate and possesses vast production and distribution resources. It owns multiple corporations in charge of producing TV dramas, documentaries, and science and educational films, in addition to its ownership of TV journals, newspapers, and an online network. To fulfill the dual needs of market demand and ideological control, CCTV has invested in and produced a large variety of prime-time dramas that have gained unprecedented popularity in both the domestic and overseas markets. CCTV’s evolution illustrates the crucial transformation of a dominant mainstream culture that aims to consolidate the state’s ideological control, to represent China on the global stage, and to have popular appeal all at the same time. Overall, the commercialization of Chinese television has also been a process of internationalization, as illustrated by the adoption of a coproduction model in producing television dramas, the consolidation of media groups, and the convergence of Chinese television outlets with online video platforms.38

In the arena of print media, institutional reform has transformed publishing houses and literary institutions into self-reliant entities that do not merely serve as ideological tools of the state. Under the socialist literary system, writing and publishing activities were fully sponsored by the state, with the Chinese Writers’ Association at the national and local levels mediating the relationship between writers and the Communist Party’s Department of Propaganda. Since the inauguration of reform in the 1980s, the state has significantly reduced funding to literary magazines and institutions, while the decentralization of distribution channels has enabled the rise of secondhand book agents and the private book distribution system.39 While serious literature has been losing its appeal, the boom in popular reading has enhanced the entertainment function of literature, as represented by the popularity of women’s writing, urban fiction, and teen literature.40 On a broad scale, the emergence of leisure newspapers, magazines, and bestsellers exemplified the rapid growth of commercial print media from the mid-1990s until 2012, when the breathtakingly rapid development of digitalization and the comprehensive expansion of advertising to Internet-based media began to pose severe challenges to print outlets.

Since China’s economic reforms, the cultural field has experienced a fundamental structural transformation. Amidst the accelerated pace of media commercialization in the 1990s—as traditional media struggled with the market logic because of their transition from propaganda organizations into business entities—the Internet industry took off at an unprecedented speed because of state support. Free from the legacy of the previously centralized institutional constraints that hamper news, television, and literature outlets, Internet media have enjoyed a greater degree of freedom when experimenting with commercial mechanisms. The declining appeal of state media and propaganda organizations, the institutional reform of traditional media outlets, and massive state investment directed toward building up new media infrastructure have granted an unprecedented competitive advantage to China’s Internet industry. As the fastest-growing commercial medium, the Internet not only shaped the developmental trajectory of China’s entertainment culture, but it also opened up a discursive space for civic engagement, political deliberation, and creative practices. From the mid-1990s onward, the intricate dynamics between new and “old” media in transition—with each striving for recognition, visibility, content authority, and market share—have contributed to an unprecedented level of cultural productivity in the contemporary era.

The Network of Visibility

The “eyes” of the Internet in China—the gaze that the state directs onto Internet users and industry practitioners—have drawn much research interest. In contrast to the flourishing of research findings on what is made invisible online, such as monitored, censored, and removed content, we know little about the driving mechanisms that grant visibility to particular kinds or instances of user-generated content. On occasions of social controversy, the terms “stir fry” (chaozuo) and “pushing hands” (tuishou) often indicate the manipulation of commercial media to promote sensational issues. These general terms hint at a politics of visibility at work on the Chinese Internet, but they do not elucidate the operational logic of the Internet as a business and how it differs from the way traditional media operate. What strategies do Internet corporations adopt to enhance their visibility? How do they decide when to promote certain issues, and when not to? How exactly do network media differ from traditional media when reporting on sensitive issues? A crucial intermediary in shaping what is visible online, the operational logic of Internet media deserves scrutiny.

In addition to the role of Internet corporations, other mechanisms that shape visibility online involve the dominant official media and traditional media outlets. While state media largely manage discursive parameters, the marketized news media have emerged as powerful players in pushing for the opening up of discursive spaces since the 1990s. In the meantime, traditional media outlets have actively experimented with digital publishing and engaged in fierce competition with emerging Internet portals for user attention, content authority, and market share.

I propose “the network of visibility” as an analytical lens to examine the mechanisms behind the vibrancy of online culture in China. I analyze the network of visibility through the process of competition for (1) user attention, and (2) content authority among Internet corporations, media outlets, and individual players in the cultural realm. Competition for user attention refers to how the desire of corporations and individuals to seek, retain, and exchange attention underscores the significance of attention in a click-driven Internet industry. Competition for content authority refers to the constantly evolving process by which media institutions—new and old, official, semiofficial, and commercial—and individual players strive to restore, sustain, or challenge discursive legitimacy. These two dimensions of competition, one emphasizing the economic rule of monetizing user attention and the other focusing on the possession and acquisition of authoritative voices, weave the network of visibility that shapes what is seen online, by whom, and in what way. In turn, the myriad ways of seeing, ranging from surveillance and censorship to consuming online content to digital witnessing that bears political implications, indicate different degrees of viewer involvement with the subject matter being attended to, and thereby contribute significantly to the vibrancy of the online sphere.

The Rule of Attention

Although the study of human attention has had a long tradition in the fields of psychology, physiology, and education,41 the emphasis on attention as a scarce commodity did not emerge until the rise of postindustrial economies. In 1971, Herbert Simon, a Nobel Prize–winning economist, first pinpointed the prominent role attention plays against the backdrop of an information explosion.42 Given the definite nature of attention as “focused mental engagement on a particular item of information,”43 it is no longer the seeking of information but the competition for attention, created by an information explosion, that primarily drives the economy. The attention economy, therefore, not only transforms the old economy based “on money, on the market, and on the industrialized exchange, distribution and production of standardized material goods,” it also redefines the role information plays in a postindustrial economy.44 This counterbalancing dynamic of information and attention, which is “de-materializ[ed] and virtualiz[ed],” consolidates the central role of attention in the digital economy.45 Georg Franck conceptualizes attention as “capital” that is involved in a myriad of business activities, such as investment, circulation, transaction, and more capital generation. The practical need of Internet businesses to monetize user attention, the technological features of new media, and the individual’s desire for self-expression and reciprocating attention on the web foreground the significance of attention in the digital age.

While vying for user attention has always been important for the cultural industry, the idiosyncrasies of the web leverage the importance of attention for online businesses. The core elements of the web—hyperlinks, hypertext, permalinks, and the search function—make it extremely easy for new media users to control what they attend to. Attention and diversion of attention are nearly concurrent in the online space. When Internet users engage in specific activities (browsing, writing, playing games, watching videos, etc.), they also are continuously distracted by other “attractions,” such as links to related items, pop-up and inline text ads, instant messaging applications, and so on. Consequently, attention online is fickle, transient, and easily transferable. Internet companies that succeed in capturing public attention can quickly reap substantial rewards by selling advertising space, launching an initial public offering, and setting up new business models. Conversely, websites that suffer from attention deficit can fail to attract advertising agencies and quickly encounter dire financial situations. The dynamic between attention and capital pressures websites to employ multifaceted strategies to capture and keep a user’s attention. In addition, web technologies enable a more precise manner of analyzing attention-related data than traditional media outlets, and position Internet users under 24/7 surveillance. Commonly used measurement data range from page rank in search and the number of page views, click-throughs, and subscribers of a website, to viewer preferences and activities recorded in excruciating detail. These hard data serve both as quantifiable indicators of the attention a website generates and a barometer of user preferences, which in turn may shape the offerings of Internet content providers. Moreover, these data may function as major evaluation standards for venture capitalists, investors, and advertising agencies to aid in making business decisions.

While Internet companies attend to customer needs by analyzing user behaviors and soliciting feedback, the flourishing of self-expression online foregrounds the importance of reciprocating attention among individual users. From it has emerged a specific netiquette and online sociality. Owing to the flourishing of personal media channels and the high level of interactivity facilitated by Web 2.0 technologies, an explosion of self-expression now lives in symbiosis with a yearning for others’ attention. Internet users not only exert a large amount of control over what they browse, but they also contribute actively to content. Thus online attention is both calculated using hard data and reified in such forms as blogs, instant messaging, Wikis, and forum posts. Reciprocating attention is a crucial part of any web dynamic and is vital to establishing and maintaining the bonds between Internet users. It is represented by such things as an exchange of messages, a reply to others’ posts, a click on the “like” button on Facebook, or a visit and link to others’ blogs. As reciprocating attentive behavior shapes new social norms online, attention management programs reinforce this norm by constantly notifying users about their visitors and urging them to pay a return visit. Moreover, individuals capable of gathering more attention possess a great degree of symbolic prestige, which may be converted into upward career opportunities.

This dominant rule of attention and its role in shaping the emerging code of netiquette has given rise to new forms of visibility, alongside “new forms of action and interaction” in the digital sphere.46 As John B. Thompson argues, online media play an unprecedentedly prominent role in mediating the relationship between power and visibility.47 The old surveillance model, in which the few in positions of power monitor the powerless majority, takes a reverse turn since the powerful few may be subject to grassroots surveillance by the many.48 The gaze that Internet users project on authorities, commercial portals, trivial daily matters, and each other brings forth a variety of connotations that can be found in the act of looking. The gaze of Internet users may take myriad forms, ranging from witnessing and spectating to surveillance to paying attention (guanzhu). While some forms of looking are more active than others, the collective attention that netizens projected onto societal issues constitutes the primary driving force of web-based incidents. These incidents range from the frivolous celebration of play, like the birth of China’s first Internet celebrity Furong Jiejie (Sister Lotus), to more serious political pursuits that aim at defending social justice, fighting against corruption, and pushing for free expression. Oftentimes, the eruption of these incidents links to commercial portals’ interest in whipping up public sentiment to increase web traffic. Driven by the rule of attention, the prominence of particular user-generated content online embodies the symbiotic relationship between the flourishing of citizen activism and the boom in entertainment culture in China’s digital age.

NOTES

1. See, e.g., Merriam-Webster Dictionary, s.v. “revolution,” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/revolution (accessed May 10, 2018) (“revolution” refers to “a sudden, radical, or complete change;” “a fundamental change in political organization;” an “activity or movement designed to effect fundamental changes in the socioeconomic situation;” “a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something;” and “a changeover in use or preference especially in technology”).

2. Chase, You’ve Got Dissent!; Esarey, and Xiao, “Political Expression in the Chinese Blogosphere”; Leibold, “Blogging Alone”; Sullivan, “China’s Weibo.”

3. Tsui, “Panopticon”; Zittrain and Edelman, “Internet Filtering in China”; Shie, “Tangled Web”; Wacker, “Resistance is Futile”; Qiu, “Virtual Censorship in China.”

4. Marvin, “When Old Technologies Were New”; Williams, “The Technology and the Society.”

5. Jeffreys, Sex and Sexuality in China, 4.

6. Jeffreys, Sex and Sexuality in China, 4.

7. Jeffreys, Sex and Sexuality in China, 9.

8. X. Tang, Visual Culture in Contemporary China, 7.

9. X. Zhang, Transformation of Political Communication, 192.

10. Stockmann, Media Commercialization and Authoritarian Rule.

11. X. Zhang, Transformation of Political Communication, 28–29.

12. Haiqing Yu, Media and Cultural Transformation, 150; Lagerkvist, After the Internet, Before Democracy, 33.

13. Balla, “Government Consultation and Political Participation”; Esarey, “Winning Hearts and Minds?”; Schlæger, and Jiang, “Official Microblogging and Social Management.”

14. Yu Hong, Networking China.

15. Rongbin Han, Contesting Cyberspace in China; Roberts, Censored; Y. Lei, Contentious Public Sphere.

16. Feng, Romancing the Internet; Hockx, Internet Literature in China; Inwood, Verse Going Viral; H. Gong and Yang, Reconfiguring Class; W. Zhang, Internet and New Social Media Formation.

17. Hockx, Internet Literature in China.

18. Inwood, Verse Going Viral.

19. Feng, Romancing the Internet.

20. H. Gong and Yang, Reconfiguring Class.

21. Williams, Long Revolution, 47.

22. Lister, Giddings, and Dovey, New Media, 220.

23. McDougall, Mao Zedong’s “Talks.”

24. Link, Roses and Thorns, 8.

25. Clark, Chinese Cultural Revolution, 2–3.

26. J. Wang, “Culture as Leisure.”

27. Xinhua News Agency, “Full Text.”

28. X. Zhang, Transformation of Political Communication, 52.

29. Jiao, “Culture a Key Priority.”

30. Jiao, “Culture a Key Priority.”

31. “13th Five-Year Plan.”

32. J. Wang, “State Question,” 37.

33. Bourdieu, Field of Cultural Production.

34. Y. Zhu, Chinese Cinema.

35. Y. Zhu, Chinese Cinema, 78.

36. S. Cai, State Propaganda.

37. Huang and Zhou, Zhongguo chuanmei shichang da bianju, 67.

38. Keane, Chinese Television Industry.

39. Kong, Consuming Literature, 14.

40. Kong, Consuming Literature, 31.

41. Herrmann and Knight, “Mechanisms of Human Attention”; Thorngate, “Professional Issues.”

42. Simon, “Designing Organizations.”

43. Davenport and Beck, Attention Economy, 20.

44. Goldhaber, “Value of Openness.”

45. Franck, “Economy of Attention.”

46. Thompson, “New Visibility,” 32.

47. Thompson, “New Visibility.”

48. Thompson, “New Visibility.”