Parsing the effect of the internet on regime support in China

Tang, Min and Huhe, Narisong (2017) Parsing the effect of the internet on regime support in China. Government and Opposition. pp. 1-34. ISSN 0017-257X (In Press)

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Although the Internet is severely censored in China, the negative reporting and critical deliberations of political institutions and policy issues, especially those low-profile ones, have been abundant in the cyberspace. Given such a mixed pattern of online information, this study aims to investigate the complex effect of the Internet on regime support in China by parsing it into direct effect and indirect effect. It argues that the Internet erodes its viewers' overall support for the authoritarian regime indirectly 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 the Internet use on regime support can be positive. Such findings about the complex effect of the Internet help advance our understanding of both political and theoretical implications of the diffusion of the Internet in authoritarian countries.