Abstract

On China's web, networked actors ranging from state agencies to private Internet users engage in highly active online discourse. Yet as diverse as this discourse may be, political content remains highly regulated, particularly on issues that affect the legitimacy of the ruling party. A prominent issue in this regard has been modern Chinese history, particularly the “national humiliation” that Japan inflicted on China's populace during events like the 1937 Nanjing Massacre. This article asks how the discourse on this particular event is structured on China's web, and what such practices of digital “remembering” can tell us about nationalism in the information age. Combining content analysis and digital tools, the article shows how the mass-media model that the Chinese authorities and various commercial actors apply to the web ultimately reproduces the very logic of “imagined communities” that makes reconciliation of historical disputes in East Asia so protracted.

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