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After Mobile Phones, What?


The article “After Mobile Phones, What? Re-embedding the Social in China’s “Digital Revolution”” was written by Yuezhi Zhao. The article was published in 2007 in the International Communication Journal. The article explores the internal sense of the apparently contradictory Chinese development through re-embedding the scrutiny of access to as well as control of the ICTs in the public domain.

China’s Economic

A political communication economy pioneer scholar, Dallas Smythe, while studying technology, ideology and the Chinese development path, met philosophers, political economists and political scientists who disagreed with him regarding the socially constructed nature of technology (Zhao 2007). Smythe realized that those individuals considered technology and technique as autonomous and nonpolitical. They further exhibited firmness of their opinion that entirely resisted the possibility of dialogue on the matter. Smythe posted fundamental questions concerning China’s economic and technological policies plus the feasibility of China’s hunt for a substitute to capitalist modernity. Smythe noticed a contradiction in the Chinese oratory of building socialism and the existing Chinese attitude to leapfrog ahead of the capitalist technology. A critical perspective reflective of the international communication policy revealed a positive effect of the Cold War’s U.S. embargo. It also noted a positive impact of the Soviet Union’s withdrawal of the technical support for China as it intended that the Chinese would become independent in professional development. The Chinese government re-constructed the post-Mao Chinese nation and launched an enormous market-oriented reform and open up process, unleashing widespread consumerism in China. China’s location as the most expansionary growth-zone of capitalism coupled with its cuddle of technology positions it central to the two growth poles for transnational capitalism.

While in power, China’s post-Mao reformers positioned electronics as the key to the development strategy of China and assertively launched the country’s digital leap forward. China’s economic reforms started with the leadership’s clasp of the four reconstructions: national defense, industry, agriculture and science and technology. The reform era’s technological growths were rolled evenly by civilian uses along with the importance of industrialization and economic development, making ICTs the most commercialized and popularized hi-tech area in China (Zhao 2007). The volatile mobile phone market growth and the China Unicom business course are descriptive of the market driven development of China’s communication goods ans services. The conventional statist goal of network development and the strategic function of telecommunications for state and military surveillance purposes still take part in shaping China’s information infrastructure development and the ICTs diffusion. The Chinese community has become polarized, fragmented and deeply estranged along class, ethnicity, gender, region and other cleavages. As the country’s economy exponentially grew, and the telecommunications market growth repeatedly surpassed the stated planners’ expectations, so did inequality.


The author’s principal concern is the wider techno-economic developmental path, cultural and social processes that underpin the apparent contradiction. The author describes the enormous cultural and social tensions caused by the aggressive promotion of a state-led market-oriented and technologically driven “digital revolution” in regressive development contexts in the public domain. The author’s perspective is that the ICTs have contributed to the remarkable growth of China and to its extreme social inequality. The writer’s views are thoroughly explained and help his arguments since the most basic type of class struggle, the battle for wealth redistribution by Chinese workers, has become the central point of working-class enlistment in digitizing China. Additionally, the writer is not biased and is qualified to write in this area as he simplifies complex and ideas and makes them easy to understand by non-professionals. Lastly, the author makes appropriate use of resources, and the article can be recommended for anyone interested in this subject.


The author reviews the multifaceted struggles waged by many Chinese social forces in re-articulating and re-inserting a social program in the digital revolution. Additionally, the author discusses the post-Jiang Chinese nation’s retrieving of the social within its developmental strategy. The writer argues that the social instability in China increased with the growth in the country’s economy and telecommunications market (Zhao 2007). In brief, the manner in which the ICTs have been built up and positioned in the last three decades have played a role in the China’s remarkable growth, on the one hand, and fueled its extreme uneven social growth, on the other hand.


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