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China and Global Cyberspace


Admission requirements

In enrollment for this course, students from the MA Asian Studies have priority. A limited number of places is available for students of the MA International Relations. Students who are interested in taking this course, but who are not from the mentioned master programmes are requested to contact their co-ordinator of studies.


In February 2014, at the establishment of the Central Leading Group for Cybersecurity and Informatization, Xi Jinping declared that China should turn into a “strong cyber power”. At that time, China’s position in the global Internet landscape was fragmented: China did not play a strong role in global Internet governance structures and processes, nor did it have a leading role in technology and innovation. Yet in some areas, such as cyber espionage, China’s activities were a prominent concern.

Since them, China’s global footprint in cyberspace has developed rapidly. It is attempting to gain a greater say in global governance, build up world-leading technological capabilities, and develop a coherent regional engagement and development strategy. At the same time, its very rise is prompting security concerns about the potential of conflict in cyberspace, and worries about the possible spread of China’s illiberal approach to the Internet.

This course will explore the rapidly changing of China’s engagement with the global Internet. In particular, it will address the following topics:

  • Introduction to the global Internet governance landscape

  • Cybersecurity and informatization: Restructuring the Internet governance architecture.

  • Building a strong cyber power: China’s engagement with the global Internet order

  • Telling China’s Story: The Wuzhen World Internet Conference

  • Regional Initiatives (Digital Silk Road)

  • Security: Cyber conflict, state behaviour and norms

  • Technical Internet governance

  • Industrial policy, indigenous innovation and standards

  • The global digital economy, including digital currencies

  • Cyber terrorism and cyber crime

Note that this course is designed to complement the course “The Politics of Digital China”, which focuses more on China’s domestic environment.

Course objectives

The overall objective of the course is to enable students to learn to identify the various topics connected to global governance in cyberspace, and assess China’s role within them. More specifically, they will learn to assess how China’s overall domestic development agenda and its global policy stance are increasingly interwoven. Moreover, while the focus of this course lies in technology-related areas, students are invited to put the topics addressed in the course in the broader context of shifts in global affairs.

Specific learning objectives

  • Mapping the various policy areas in global cyberspace governance, and learning to identify China’s stance and the drivers of its policies there.

  • Being able to respond to targeted research questions on the basis of various kinds of literature, present findings and lead class discussions.

  • Formulating an original research question and writing a paper of commensurate academic quality, preferably using primary sources.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar.

Attendance is compulsory for all sessions. Students must prepare well and contribute to in-class discussion. If a student cannot attend because of illness or misadventure, they should promptly inform the convener. Extra assignments may be set to make up for missed class time, at the convener’s discretion. Absence without notification may result in lower grades or exclusion from assessment components and a failing grade for the course.

Students will be required to deliver one page of written work per week in preparation for the class.

Assessment method

Assessment and weighing

Partial assessment Weighing
Presence + participation in seminars 30%
Presentation of research questions/short essay 30%
Term paper 40%

Further instructions will be given in the course reader.


A resit is possible for the term paper (40%) only, and only if (1) the original submission constituted a serious attempt; and (2) the student failed both the paper and the full course.

Inspection and feedback

Students may request an oral elucidation of the assessment within 30 days after publication of the grade.

Reading list

A reader will be made available before the start of the course, through Blackboard. Please note that due to the nature of the course, it is likely that a considerable number of readings will come from primary sources (which will be made available in translation where necessary), blogs and news media articles. It may also be the case that new readings are proposed in step with changes or events in the field.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website.

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.