The Internet's Impact on Democratization in the Developing World: China as an Example

The topic of the Internet's impact on democratization in the developing world draws global attention and has been studied in different disciplines. However, few systematic overviews with explicit classifications for existing literature can be found. After discussing relevant theories and approaches, this essay assesses current articles with a distinct framework that divides them into two categories referring to the different explanations of democratization. Then it uses China, a less developed and semi-authoritarian country with rapid economic growth, as a unique example and adopts the framework to examine the Internet's effect on two aspects: strengthening the democratic institutions based on the current political system and challenging the one-party regime. Finally, it concludes that how much the Internet can contribute to democratization in developing countries seriously depends on the specific context, including the understanding of relevant concepts. Suggestions for further studies are given.