The 18th Chinese Internet Research Conference

Organised by RMIT and QUT universities with sponsorship from Deakin and Curtin Universities, the 18th Chinese Internet Research Conference (CIRC) focuses on the prospects for, and critiques of the internationalisation of China's digital and communication industries.

The post-ICA 2020 conference brings CIRC to the southern hemisphere for the first time in its history since its inception in 2003. It will be jointly hosted by media and/or communication studies programs and schools in some of Australia’s most innovative universities. The conference will continue the proud tradition of CIRC in stimulating international research into the Internet and China within the broader field of media and communication studies. It aims to create dialogues between conceptual and empirical researchers; between academia, civil society, and industry. It focuses on understanding the transformation of Chinese digital media, communication and technologies and seeks to identify key new directions for research, debate, policy and application, in the current global environment of contestations and uncertainties. A particular goal of the conference is to encourage collegial interaction between higher-degree students, early career researchers and leading thinkers in this field. We will foreground innovation in digital methods of research, transformative programs of critical and creative inquiry, and the importance of dialogue between government, industry and the academia.

The CFP invites papers and panels that examine the internationalization mission and geopolitical implication of China’s global digital strategies, their successes and challenges that are centered on and beyond the Internet. It also welcomes papers that examine new dynamics and emerging trends related to Chinese Internet and digital culture/economy/politics from a comparative perspective—both historically and horizontally (with other countries). 

The conference theme:

“The Internationalisation of China’s Digital and Communication Industries”

In anticipation of an Asian century (Khanna, 2019), Chinese technology has become increasingly more assertive (Lee, 2018), approximating a tech cold war. China’s internationalization strategies of their digital and communication industries are systematic and comprehensive as evidenced by their artificial intelligence ambitions and the “Digital Silk Road Initiative” (Shen, 2018: Fung et al, 2018; Keane & Yu, 2019; Shi, 2018).  These policy interventions have helped advance Chinese tech, media, and digital platforms “over the wall”, if more often through parallel platform strategies, whether social media platforms (WeChat, Kuaishou, Douyin/TikTok), E-commerce models and online payment (Alipay, AliExpress, ‘Taobao Village’), digital and mobile technology (Xiaomi, Huawei), or its big data industry. 

Yet, while promising a ‘fairer’ Internet and a ‘cyber community of shared destiny’ (to use Chinese President Xi’s words), these policies promote the interests of Chinese cyber sovereignty and an alternative cyber order advanced by the Chinese Internet (Yang, 2003, 2012).  China’s expansion of its digital footprint, advance in digital capacity and AI technology, and soft power ambition have caused unease among international competitors and are regarded as ‘threat’ by the US-led ‘Western’ alliance, as witnessed in the Huawei 5G ban in the U.S and Australia, forced sale of the gay dating app Grindr in the US, and accusation of TikTok violations of cultural norms and regulatory policies in India, Malaysia, and the U.S.  Even as China’s media content has flourished domestically and among the Chinese diasporas, efforts to enter Western mainstream geo-cultural markets have proven challenging if not impossible (Sun 2015), even with more genre-driven fare (The Wandering Earth) or the delayed “soft launch” of video portals (Lotz 2017) like IQiyi into southeast Asian markets.

To this end, CIRC 2020 proposes to interrogate questions around, but not limited to, the following topics:

  • China’s digital strategy and expansion in the Asia Pacific and along the BRI, including its cybersecurity and legal frameworks;
  • The role of the Internet and digital technologies (artificial intelligence, blockchain, big data, quantum, etc) in shaping and promoting the Chinese version of a new cyber order and governance, both within and outside China; and its national and global impact;
  • Chinese digital platforms, digital economy, and digital diplomacy in the great power contest;
  • Chinese digital media and diasporic Chinese communities
  • Comparative studies between China and other nations on digital economies, politics, policies, governance, platforms, activism and cultures

We also welcome proposals and abstracts that are not directly related to the above-mentioned themes, such as:

  • Chinese digital lifestyles and youth sub-cultures
  • New forms of Internet communities or activism
  • Political economy of Chinese digital and communication industries

Deadlines:

Please send panel proposals, paper abstracts and enquiries to: circ2020au@gmail.com

Panel proposals (max. 1500 words): Panels should consist of 4 abstracts. A maximum of two sessions on the same topic (ie. 8 abstracts), submitted as separate panels of 4 abstracts each, are permitted. The deadline for submissions is 6pm, 20 January 2020 (Australian Eastern Time).

Individual paper abstracts (max. 300 words and a short bio of 100 words): 6pm, 20 January 2020 (Australian Eastern Time).

Full paper submission for participants in the Best Student Paper Award (max. 8,000 words, including notes and references): 9am, Monday 30 March 2020 (Australian Eastern Time).

Full paper submission is NOT required except for Higher Degree Research students who wish to be considered for the Best Student Paper Award.

Key dates:

  • 20 January 2020: Paper and panel proposals due
  • 20 February 2020: Notifications of acceptance
  • 02 March 2020: Confirmation of attendance 
  • 21-25 May 2020: ICA (Gold Coast)
  • 27-28 May 2020: CIRC (Melbourne)

Keynote speakers:

  • Michael Keane, Professor of Chinese media, Curtin University, Australia
  • Yu Hong, Professor of media and communication, Zhejiang University, China

Organising committee:

 

References:

Fung, KC. Aminian, N., Fu, X, and Tung C (2018) Digital Silk Road, Silicon Valley and Connectivity. Journal of Chinese Economics and Business Studies 16 (3), 313- 336.
Keane, M. and Yu, H (2019) China’s Emerging Platform Capitalists in the Asia Pacific. International Journal of Communication, 13, 4624–4641.
Khanna, P (2019). The Future is Asian. New York, Simon & Schuster.
Lee, K (2018) AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 
Lotz, A (2017) Portals: A Treatise on Internet-Distributed Television. Ann Arbor: Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan Library.
Shen, H (2018). Building a digital silk road? Situating the internet in China’s belt and Road Initiative. International Journal of Communication 12, 2683 -2701.
Shi, A (2018) Constructing a mediated community of shared future. The Annals of the International Communication Association 2018, 120-138.
Sun, W (2015) Slow boat from China: public discourses behind the 'going global' media policy. International Journal of Cultural Policy 21 (4), 400-418.
Yang, G (2003) The Internet and the rise of a transnational Chinese cultural sphere. Media, Culture & Society 25 (4), 469-490.
Yang, G (2012) A Chinese Internet? History, practice, and globalization. Chinese Journal of Communication 5 (1), 49-54.

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RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nations on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.

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