Pivot to Internet Plus: Molding China's Digital Economy for Economic Restructuring?
Under the Internet Plus policy, China’s Internet and digital economy become unprecedentedly important during the post-2008 economic restructuring. Using the Internet as a metaphor to represent the broader Web-oriented communications commodity chains that encompass access devices, networks, and services and applications, and by examining three state–corporate disputes involving Foxconn, Qualcomm, and Alibaba, this article historicizes the political economy of China’s digital economy, especially the liberalized and quasiliberalized sections, and then characterizes the nature of the state’s interventions under the auspices of economic restructuring. It argues that the state’s ability to make effective policy for change in this critical field is incoherent. The combination of state-power decentralization and the externally oriented commodity chain for the Web economy is likely to turn Internet Plus into a risky strategy, but the cyber business section of China’s digital capitalism is most likely to benefit.