Contesting the Digital World Order

China’s National Role Strategy in Changing the Norms of Global Internet Governance


  • Andrew Devine University of Duisburg-Essen



China, Cyber Sovereignty, Global Governance, Institutions and Norms, Internet Governance, Multistakeholderism, National Roles, World Internet Conference


This article aims to understand China’s national role conceptions and strategy within the context of the World Internet Conference (WIC). The Chinese government uses this conference to promote its model of internet governance known as cyber sovereignty. The foreign policy behaviour of China (role performance) as well as role prescriptions from the US are also analysed. A novel approach based on frame analysis is taken to uncover China’s national role conceptions. The related frames in this article are then categorized into national roles. China performs four national roles as part of its strategy to reshape international internet governance norms: developer, global village member, global leader, and law-abiding citizen. This article concludes that the national roles in the WIC are aimed at developing and emerging countries in order to increase China’s power and win gradual support for the cyber sovereignty model.

Author Biography

Andrew Devine, University of Duisburg-Essen

Andrew Devine is a master’s student at the Institute of East Asian Studies, University of Duisburg-Essen (Germany). He received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Central Florida (Orlando, USA). He is currently researching his master’s thesis in Wuhan, China on a scholarship and grant from the University of Duisburg-Essen. His research interests are authoritarian resilience, digital governance, Chinese politics, and foreign policy analysis.




How to Cite

Devine, A. (2019). Contesting the Digital World Order: China’s National Role Strategy in Changing the Norms of Global Internet Governance. Politikon: The IAPSS Journal of Political Science, 42, 61–79.



Research articles