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How many Chinese people are going online? What are they doing on the Internet? What is the social impact of the growing Internet use in China? With more and more people paying attention to the development of the Internet in China, such specific questions are being frequently asked. However, little empirical research has been conducted in this field. Currently, one of the blind spots in the field and the most mutable factor is the small cities.
The idea of doing research on small cities started from early 2001 when Jim Steinberg, who was senior advisor for the Markle Foundation at the time, and Nina Hachigian, visited Nanhai, which is a model of e-government in China. Thanks to the financial support from the Markle Foundation and the advice from Stefaan Verhulst, the CASS Internet research1 can be continued and expanded to the small cities.