Xiaowei Wang and An Xiao Mina on The Great Shopping Mall

14 Feb, 2021

Xiaowei Wang and An Xiao Mina on The Great Shopping Mall

An Xiao Mina and Xiaowei Wang recently featured in the Knight First Amendement Institute at Columbia University with the piece "The Great Shopping Mall: The market nationalist logic of Chinese social media." In the piece, An Xiao and Xiaowei go beyond the popular association of Chinese social media with censorship by exploring the deep relationship between China's social media and its entertainment and commerce practices.

From the piece:

It is time for a new image of the Chinese internet to complement that of the Great Firewall: the Great Shopping Mall. As a rescent Economist special report on the future of Chinese e-commerce has argued, the distinction between social media, entertainment and e-commerce has become quite blurry on the Chinese internet, likely more so than on the American internet. While others have long pointed to the salience of the shopping mall analogy for China’s economic landscape, the analogy comes with consequences for civic tech and governance. The Chinese vision of the internet, which has aimed to grow economic activity while tamping down political dissent, has seemed to be the exact opposite of Silicon Valley’s techno-libertarian vision. And yet today, as nation states the world over put pressure on technology companies on issues like content moderation, trade and user privacy, the dynamics between the state and private internet companies in China presaged a global era of tension between market forces and governments where private and public interests negotiate influence over internet governance and user rights. In this way, Chinese social media logic follows a double bottom line: the market and the state, which, as David Graeber describes in his book, Debt: The First 5000 Years, are two flanks of the same animal.

Read the entire article here!