Handbooks of Research on Contemporary China series
Edited by Michael Keane
Chapter 23: Editor’s introduction
From the time of their inception in 2001 China’s cultural industries were unwaveringly material, following the blueprint of industrialization (chanyehua) laid out in the national Five-Year Economic Development Plans. The objectives were pragmatic: construct physical environments, build more theme parks, produce more artefacts to sell to tourists, turn over buildings to artists and label them creative clusters, and hopefully in the process stumble across some innovation. Then came the injunction: China needed to ‘upgrade’ (shengji) rather than just build. But something occurred in the interim that was a game changer. The Internet had become an unstoppable force: its users were young, most born in single child families and disinclined to be altruistic. In the past most of the energy of the government was focused on regulating the Internet, making sure that it was amenable to control, employing thousands of people to take down posts that were deemed offensive and to report miscreants whose conduct was not ‘harmonious’.
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