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Hong Shen

Research Scientist
Department of Engineering and Public Policy
Carnegie Mellon University
129 Baker Hall,
Pittsburgh PA, 15213

I am a Research Scientist at the Department of Engineering and Public Policy (EPP) at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). I received my PhD in Media and Communications from the Institute of Communication Research (ICR) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) in May 2017.

"Across the Great (Fire) Wall: China's Internet Industry Goes Out", Department of Media, Culture and Communication, New York University
"Toward the 'External' Internet: The 'Going Out' of China's Internet Industry", United Nations University Institute on Computing and Society, Macau, China
"Understanding China's 'Internet Plus' Strategy: Conditions, Scope and Limitations", Digital Asia Hub, Hong Kong, China
I was selected as a Google Policy Fellow.
"Across the Great (Fire) Wall: China and the Global Internet", Agora Speaker Series, Department of Communication, University of Pittsburgh


My research focuses on the political economy of global communications, internet industry and policy (with an emphasis on China), and social class relations around emerging digital technologies.

Internet Industry and Policy

Book project: Across the Great (Fire) Wall: China and the Global Internet

Currently, I am working on a book project on the policy and political economy of China's outward expansion in global cyberspace. Based on my PhD dissertation, it examines the multifaceted interactions between China and the global internet in the past three decades, especially China's outward cyber expansion, or the "going out" program that has gained momentum since the mid-2000s, and explores the changing social class relations that accompany and shape this new movement.

Often perceived only as a repressive authoritarian regime that aims at building an inward-looking national "intranet" or a "giant cage" (The Economist; April 6th, 2013), China in fact is now increasingly projecting power outward in this sphere. China-based internet giants, from Huawei, China Mobile, to more recent players like Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu, have all started to expand their reach in the international digital market. The state has also aggressively extended its influence in global internet governance. Meanwhile, Chinese tech leaders like Jack Ma have increasingly joined the global IT elite club. This book breaks down the "giant cage" metaphor , remapping the boundaries of the Chinese internet, and foregrounding its external dimension.

See an earlier published version of the second chapter of my PhD dissertation, which maps out China's changing approach toward global internet governance.

Social Class Relations around Emerging Digital Technologies

I am also interested in exploring the social, ethical and policy implications of emerging digital technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and genomics. One recent book chapter explores the policy challenges related with genomic big data, which is forthcoming in a multi-disciplinary volume published by Springer.



  • Shen, H. Across the Great (Fire) Wall: China and the Global Internet, book manuscript, under review with the MIT press.

Journal Articles

  • Shen, H. (under review). Building a digital Silk Road? Situating the internet in China's Belt and Road Initiative
  • Shen, H. (under review). Beyond the “Giant Cage” metaphor: Re-mapping the boundaries of the Chinese Internet.
  • Shen, H. (2016). China and global Internet governance: Toward an alternative analytical framework. Chinese Journal of Communication, 9 (3), 304-324. [PDF]