The Chinese Conception of Cyber Sovereignty and its Practical Effect

This paper will unpack the conception of “cyber sovereignty” put forward by the Chinese authorities from both ideational and institutional perspectives. It will first trace out the evolution of Chinese authorities’ understandings of the Internet in the past 20 years and put the recent conception of “cyber sovereignty” in the historical context. Then it will show how the new conception affects Chinese internet regulatory practice, examining the institutional change within the central government, especially the establishment of the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), as a content- layer regulator and a coordinator in the whole cybersecurity regulatory framework. It will also analyze how recent laws and regulations, such as trans-border data transference, embody the idea of cyber sovereignty.