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Abstract

The Chinese internet has received huge academic attention since almost the very beginning. Though there are various other approaches to this research field (e.g. Herold and Marolt, 2011, Lai and To, 2012, Ye et al., 2011, Golub and Lingley, 2008), the political approach to the Chinese internet has comprised a very important part, involving plenty of political theories such as democracy, civil society, public sphere (MacKinnon, 2010, Zhang, 2006, Sima, 2011, Tai, 2006, Yang, 2003a) and authoritarian deliberation (MacKinnon, 2011, Jiang, 2010, Kalathil and Boas, 2001). Internet censorship is a core theme of Chinese internet politics research, but scholars focus mainly on regulations, infrastructure (such as the Great Firewall, GFW) (Deibert, 2002, Qiu, 1999) and operation of internet censorship (Bamman et al., 2012, Thornton, 2010). Only a small group of scholars have touched on resistance against internet censorship (Clayton et al., 2006, Leberknight et al., 2012); for those who do emphasize internet resistance, they focus mainly on technological dimensions such as circumvention tools and hack activities (Hughes and Wacker, 2003). The symbolic dimension (such as euphemistic words and satirical images) has been rarely studied. This paper tries to fill this research gap. It approaches from the bottom-up and use case studies as the main research method. It firstly gives a general literature review on existing studies about Chinese internet censorship and resistance, and then explores the political possibilities of images as iconic resistance to internet censorship. It concludes by discussing the symbolic dimension of internet politics (particularly, the power and limitation of symbolic resistance) in Chinese cyberspace.