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China Scholarship Digest #18

China Scholarship Digest is a monthly list of new China-related academic research.

Articles published in December 2022

69 journals scanned

100 articles from 24 journals

Chinese Studies

Journal of Contemporary China

"Extant literature has not fully accounted for the changes underway in China’s perspectives on the ethical risks of artificial intelligence (AI). This article develops a community-of-practice (CoP) approach to the study of Chinese policymaking in the field of AI. It shows that the Chinese approach to ethical AI emerges from the communication of practices of a relatively stable group of actors from three domains—the government, academia, and the private sector. This Chinese CoP is actively cultivated and led by government actors. The paper draws attention to CoP configurations during collective situated-learning and problem-solving among its members that inform the evolution of Chinese ethical concerns of AI. In so doing, it demonstrates how a practice-oriented approach can contribute to interpreting Chinese politics on AI governance."

China Quarterly

"This research report measures changes in China's public diplomacy after a May 2021 collective study session of the Chinese Communist Party Politburo [which] examined the country's global communications strategy and fuelled speculation about what might change in China's external communications, particularly with regard to its “wolf warrior” diplomats...we develop and validate a measure of “wolf warrior diplomacy” rhetoric and apply it to over 200,000 tweets from nearly 200 institutional, media and diplomatic Twitter accounts....[we found] After [May 2021], PRC diplomats in the OECD moderated their tweets in comparison to non-OECD diplomats, but we do not detect a major re-orientation of PRC communication strategies. These findings have relevance for scholars of Chinese foreign policy, nationalism and public diplomacy."
"After nearly two decades of rising wages for those in the unskilled sectors of China's economy, in the mid-2010s employment and wages in China began to experience new polarizing trends. Using data from the National Bureau of Statistics of China, this paper examines trends in multiple sectors and subeconomies of China, revealing the substantial rise of employment in informal, low-skilled services as well as the steady decline of wage growth in the informal subeconomy. At the same time, we find that although employment growth in the formal subeconomy is relatively moderate, wage growth in high-skilled services is steadily rising. These two trends pose a challenge for China, presenting a new and uncertain period of economic change."
"In China, celebrities can dominate public discourse and shape popular culture, but they are under the state's close gaze. Recent studies have revealed how the state disciplines and co-opts celebrities to promote patriotism, foster traditional values and spread political propaganda. However, how do celebrities adapt to the changing political environment? Focusing on political signalling on the social media platform Sina Weibo, we analyse a novel dataset and find that the vast majority of top celebrities repost from official accounts of government agencies and state media outlets, though there are variations. Younger celebrities with more followers tend to repost from official accounts more often. Celebrities from Taiwan tend to repost less than those from the mainland and Hong Kong, despite being subject to the same rules. However, the frequent political signalling by the most influential celebrities among younger generations suggests that the state has co-opted celebrity influence on social media to broadly promote its political objectives."

China: An International Journal

"Analysing a unique data set of protest events in China between 2006 and 2017, the authors find that protests involving administrative divisions are significantly less likely to turn violent when compared to those opposing nongovernmental targets, while protests targeting judicial or security divisions are significantly more likely to involve mass violence. The findings suggest that protest violence in authoritarian regimes is associated with the organisational divisions within an authoritarian government, and the explanation of the relations focuses on whether the branches have the co-optation capacity to allocate substantial economic resources instead of whether the branches control the coercive forces to intimidate the public."

China Review

Asian Studies

Journal of Contemporary Asia

"Under the BRI, Chinese policymakers have focused on exporting railway systems to developing countries, yet progress on some projects remains limited. This article focuses on delays associated with a planned railway project in Pakistan: the ML-1. It answers the following question: What explains delays in the ML-1 railway project despite strong Chinese interest in it? The article...highlights the role of railway bureaucrats involved in project-level negotiations. It shows that local bureaucrats contribute to delays by actively negotiating technical parameters. Chinese firms have limited policy levers to ensure their acquiescence... [Moreover,] the article places delays in the context of Pakistan’s political economy by analysing the role of the political and military elite. It also explores the impact of political change and economic factors on the project. Projects not in sync with the local political elites’ development vision face delays. Domestic political changes also contribute to delays. Furthermore, a failure to gain major veto actors’ support, coupled with economic problems and differences over financing terms, constrains China’s ability to pursue large-scale projects."

Asian Studies Review

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