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China and Global Cyberspace


Admission requirements

This course is open to all Master students in Asian Studies and International Relations. Other Master students should submit a request.


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 (OBOR, Online Silk Road)

  • Security: Cyber conflict, state behaviour and norms

  • Technical Internet governance

  • Industrial policy, indigenous innovation and standards

  • The global digital economy

  • 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 timetable is available on the Asianstudies website

Mode of instruction

Seminar. With the exception of the first two (introductory) lectures, students will be asked to prepare a number of research questions, which will be addressed on the basis of required readings and students’ own research. Two sessions will be kept as open Q&A sessions for the term paper.

Course load

  • Lectures/seminars: 24 hrs

  • Readings: 100 hrs

  • Seminar prepraration: 50 hrs

  • Term paper: 100 hrs


  • 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 only possible for the term paper, if (1) the original submission constituted a serious attempt; (2) the student failed both the paper and the full course; and (3) it is still possible to obtain a passing grade.

Exam Review

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


Blackboard will be used to make available sources, literature lists, extra information and announcement to students. Essays and papers are to be submitted through SafeAssign.

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 in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. R.J.E.H. Creemers