The Legitimation of Media Regulation in China

Yik Chan Chin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores media regulation in China and argues that the country’s broadcasting regulatory strategies of becoming more legal–rational and law based have been affected by two forces: the Chinese Party-state’s attempt to recast the foundation of its political legitimacy, and the legitimizing power of legal rationality per se. The legitimization of media-regulatory efforts have primarily centered on procedural justice of the rule of law in the following ways: enacting stable new broadcasting laws (stability); instituting public consultation in rule making (procedural inclusiveness); strengthening law enforcement (enforcement); and placing checks on administrative power (restriction of state power). The advantages of this procedural legitimization are that it provides predictability by restricting arbitrariness in the exercise of administrative power and providing some opportunity for public participation, while limiting regulatory authority. On the other hand, Chinese media regulation still requires mechanisms to secure its operational transparency, accountability and deliberation to avoid being cast as a legitimizing ritual. This paper also argues that procedural legality and justice is a necessary, but insufficient condition for obtaining the media regulator’s legal–rational legitimacy, and given the status of the country’s constitution and its weaknesses in political participation, accountability and transparency in national law making, the content of the media regulation itself must also manifest the social and political values of protecting citizen and media rights.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-194
Number of pages23
JournalChinese Political Science Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • Administrative law
  • Chinese media
  • Legitimacy
  • Media regulation
  • Rule by law


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