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«China & Technical Global Internet Governance: From Norm-Taker to Norm-Maker? by Tristan Galloway L.L.B(Hons)/B.A.(Hons) Deakin University Submitted ...»

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China & Technical Global Internet Governance: From

Norm-Taker to Norm-Maker?


Tristan Galloway

L.L.B(Hons)/B.A.(Hons) Deakin University

Submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy

Deakin University

July, 2015

I am the author of the thesis entitled:

China & Technical Global Internet Governance: From Norm-Taker to NormMaker?

submitted for the degree of

This thesis may be made available for consultation, loan and limited copying in accordance with the Copyright Act 1968.

'I certify that I am the student named below and that the information provided in the form is correct' Full Name: TRISTAN GALLOWAY


Date: 20 November 2015 ii

I certify the following about the thesis entitled:

China & Technical Global Internet Governance: From Norm-Taker to NormMaker?

submitted for the degree of A900 Doctor of Philosophy a. I am the creator of all or part of the whole work(s) (including content and layout) and that where reference is made to the work of others, due acknowledgment is given.

b. The work(s) are not in any way a violation or infringement of any copyright, trademark, patent, or other rights whatsoever of any person.

c. That if the work(s) have been commissioned, sponsored or supported by any organisation, I have fulfilled all of the obligations required by such contract or agreement.

I also certify that any material in the thesis which has been accepted for a degree or diploma by any university or institution is identified in the text.

'I certify that I am the student named below and that the information provided in the form is correct' Full Name: TRISTAN GALLOWAY


Date: 31 July 2015 iii Acknowledgements My sincere thanks to Prof Baogang He, my principal supervisor, for his excellent advice and tireless support, without which the completion of this dissertation would have been impossible.

I would also like to express my thanks to my associate supervisors, Prof Wanlei Zhou and Dr Xiangshu Fang, for their advice and support, and to other staff at Deakin University that have provided me with feedback, including but not limited to Dr Chengxin Pan and Dr David Hundt. I am grateful for the further feedback or insight received on elements of my dissertation by numerous academics at academic conferences, seminars and through academic journal peer review processes. I thank the staff and reviewers at China: An International Journal, for their feedback and advice on the joint article submitted by Prof Baogang He and myself that was published in late 2014; while the content and research of the dissertation’s chapters 7 & 8 are primarily attributable to the author, their quality has been improved by this feedback and through collaboration between myself and Prof Baogang He. Elements of the research in these two chapters, and elements of the dissertation’s arguments related to its theoretical perspective, have also been informed by the author’s Honours thesis, submitted to Deakin University in 2010.

A professional editing service, The Expert Editor, provided copyediting and proofreading services for the dissertation, according to the guidelines laid out in the university-endorsed national ‘Guidelines for Editing Research Theses’. All remaining grammatical and stylistic errors are attributable to the author.

I am grateful to Deakin University and the Australian Government for the doctoral candidature and scholarship extended to me, and to Deakin University for the additional financial support that enabled me to conduct research in Beijing, China, attend a number of international academic conferences, and observe the conduct of internet governance first-hand at the APrIGF 2013 in Seoul, South Korea and at the IGF 2013 in Bali, Indonesia.

I am deeply thankful for the support and advice given to me by my friends and family. Thanks in particular to my parents, Louise and Stuart, and my sister Hannah for their support, and especially to my partner Taia who has been a constant source of encouragement.

–  –  –

This dissertation analyses Chinese engagement with the core norms regulating technical global internet governance, namely those related to: US government authority, privatized governance, multi-stakeholder governance, and state actors’ authority. It seeks to determine if China has been a norm-maker or norm-taker towards these norms, and whether it wants to – or can – reshape internet governance. To answer these questions, a qualitative analysis of historical and contemporary Chinese state and non-state actor engagement with core internet governance norms in domestic Chinese internet governance and across key global and regional internet governance organizations is conducted. The roles China has adopted towards these norms are analysed across their lifecycles and described using the dissertation’s own synthesized framework of four potential roles: normentrepreneur, norm-taker, norm-maker and norm-supporter. Explanations of Chinese, and other actors’, behaviour within internet governance, and predictions about future behaviour, are guided by a rationalist, multi-causal theoretical perspective loosely based on liberal international relations theory. The dissertation argues that China has largely been a norm-taker at the global level of internet governance, but more of a norm-maker at the regional and domestic levels. It has also attempted to establish a norm of greater government authority within internet governance. The roles China has adopted suggests that it does want to change some aspects of the current internet governance regime, seeking to remove US government authority and limit non-state actor authority over the technical internet but is otherwise satisfied with the multi-stakeholder character of internet governance and the authority of non-state actors below the global level.

China is nevertheless unable to implement the changes that it wishes to make, because other states and non-state actors do not share its interests sufficiently, and because China does not have the material power or ideational appeal necessary to impose its preferences in this area.

–  –  –


1. Introduction Over the past few decades the People's Republic of China (China) has steadily improved its relative power position within the international system. Rapid and sustained economic growth has propelled it to a leading position in the global economy and contributed to the strengthening of China’s diplomatic influence and strategic capabilities. Concurrently, China’s pragmatic and generally nonconfrontational approach to foreign policy in the post-Mao era has improved its foreign relations and accelerated Chinese integration into regional and global society. The rise of China in the international system and within international society has come with a corresponding increase in attention paid to China’s potential impact on contemporary international relations. An intriguing aspect of China’s rise is the question of what it will do with its reclaimed great power

status; a question eloquently framed by James Reilly (2011, p. 71) who asked:

“As China emerges as a global power, is it more likely to accommodate itself to the existing systems and norms; or will the Chinese government insist that the international system be reshaped more in its own image and reflecting China’s own national interests?” The answer to this question is important to contemporary global politics because of China's growing relative power and influence, which may motivate or facilitate Chinese attempts at restructuring elements of the international order that the Chinese government or people are dissatisfied with (Buzan 2010; Ross & Zhu 2008, ch. 12). The consequences of China’s rise affects fundamental issues in international relations, such as whether a looming power transition between the United States (US) and China will trigger global conflict, or whether China will seek to overturn the contemporary liberal world order (Foot 2006; Ikenberry 2008; Shambaugh 2013, ch. 7). However, it also touches upon more narrowly defined, specific issues. China’s increasing influence on the world stage means that it is critical to the success of global governance processes across a variety of specific issue areas as diverse as climate change, development aid, global trade governance, and global peacekeeping (Gao 2011a; Gu, Humphrey & Messner 2008; Hurrell & Sengupta 2012; Li 2011; Reilly 2011). As one core element of its rising global power, China's current and potential ability to reshape the structure of global governance, as well as its desire to do so, is an important aspect of understanding the significance and implications of its rise (Legro 2007; Wang & Rosenau 2009).

Mirroring the modern resurgence of China, the internet has become an increasingly important technology over the past few decades. From its humble beginnings as an experimental research network, the internet has grown into the most significant extant information and communication technology, and is increasingly important in virtually all aspects of human interaction – from private, interpersonal communication through to the conduct of high politics amongst great powers (Diamond 2010; DiMaggio et al. 2001; Farrell 2012; Keohane & Nye Jr 1998; Lessig 1999). The internet’s centrality to global telecommunications renders it a significant factor in the protection of national security, the operation of the global economy, and within many other issues in contemporary international relations (Ball 2011; Chadwick & Howard 2010; Lindsay 2013; Vu 2011). The internet exerts a wide-ranging influence over global politics, yet its technological characteristics are shaped by, and its global reach and continued operation depend upon, the global governance of its technical architecture. The conduct of technical global internet governance (internet governance) is thus an important element of modern international relations.

This dissertation aims to contribute to the literature on China’s rise and its implications for international relations by examining Chinese engagement with this specific aspect of world politics: the global governance of the technical internet. It does not focus on the details of Chinese policy towards the technical internet, but instead aims to develop an understanding of China’s broader role in the governance of the global internet and its preferences towards the conduct of that governance. Specifically, it aims to answer two related questions: 'Has China been a norm-maker or a norm-taker in internet governance?'; and 'If it wants to, can it reshape the structure of internet governance?'. To answer these questions, the dissertation analyses the roles China has adopted towards four core norms that either regulate the conduct of internet governance or influence its future evolution. Three of these norms are historically and currently dominant in regulating the conduct of internet governance, while the fourth is an emerging norm that challenges the current structure of internet governance. These three core norms are: (1) the norm of US government supervisory authority over internet governance (the US authority norm); (2) the norm of non-state actors enjoying authority over internet governance (the privatized governance norm);

and, (3) the norm of multiple stakeholder rights to participate in internet governance (the multi-stakeholder governance norm). The one emerging norm examined by the dissertation is the norm of sovereign state authority over the internet’s global governance (the state authority norm).

China's engagement with core internet governance norms is a significant topic for a few key reasons. As noted, China is a rising great power with the potential to reshape global politics and the conduct of global governance. Similarly, the internet is a politically influential technology, and its global governance is, therefore, an important issue area. Aside from the internet’s general significance, however, the technical internet’s global governance is shaped by some unusual norms which reflect US predominance in world politics, and embody liberal, democratic ideals (Drezner 2004; Mueller, Mathiason & Klein 2007). This makes China's engagement with this issue area of particular relevance to the implications of China's rise, as it provides an opportunity to explore Chinese engagement with emerging global governance norms that do not necessarily reflect the preferences of the Chinese state or its government. Finally, little existing research addresses this topic, thus examining it contributes to the development of empirical literature on China, the internet and global governance.

Overall, the dissertation contributes to knowledge in three ways. Firstly, it contributes to empirical knowledge about Chinese engagement with internet governance through its original research on this subject, which centers on a detailed analysis of Chinese involvement with key internet governance organizations at the global level and at the Asia-Pacific regional level, in particular the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and its subsidiary bodies and related regional organizations such as the Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC), and with United Nations-sponsored organizations such as the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) and related bodies. Secondly, it contributes to knowledge of Chinese roles towards core internet governance norms, and to our understanding of China’s preferences towards, and capacity to reform, contemporary internet governance.

This greater understanding is provided by theoretically-informed analysis of both the dissertation’s own original research and pre-existing empirical knowledge of China and technical internet governance. Thirdly, the dissertation contributes to knowledge by providing a modest theoretical improvement to the frameworks used to describe state roles towards global governance norms. It develops a set of four potential state roles towards these norms: norm-entrepreneur, norm-maker, norm-supporter and norm-taker. This is done by reviewing the norm-maker/normtaker framework and its related literature, identifying innovations within this body of literature, and then using this knowledge to synthesize a new framework that is structured around Finnemore and Sikkink’s (1998) norm lifecycle model (norm lifecycle model).

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