Communication, Culture, and Governance in Asia | Toward Fragmented Platform Governance in China: Through the Lens of Alibaba and the Legal-Judicial System

Yu Hong, Jian Xu


By reviewing lawsuits against Alibaba, this article explores the evolving model of platform governance that expresses and constitutes the historical political economy of China’s Internet at large. It outlines the significance of platform immunity in legal cases and conceptualizes the construct as a common carrier of governance registering cross-scale, cross-unit, and cross-context concordance and discordance. Beyond the censorship imaginary that has conventionally defined China’s Internet governance, the article ultimately reveals a model of fragmented governance: a model that encompasses many moving parts, legal and administrative, authoritarian and mercantile, and across disjointed issue areas from speech to digital trade, from copyright to trademark—a model that sustains platform immunity as a common carrier, keeps alive power struggles among collective interests, makes haphazard institutional tweaking, and repeats regulatory compromises.


e-commerce, platform governance, China, intellectual property rights, counterfeiting, digital economy, legal studies

Full Text: