Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International Relations

Reader 1

Minxin Pei


On November 2, 2020, Ant Group prepared to launch the biggest IPO in history. The following day, Xi Jinping suspended it. This act marked the beginning of a series of rules, regulations, and fines that would affect billions of dollars in market capitalizations and trillions of dollars in value from tech stocks. The question is why? Big Tech helped China grow economically, gain international prestige, and is a willing accomplice in the regime’s Great Firewall. This paper argues that when China gave Big Tech unparalleled liberties to grow and develop, the regime also put itself in a vulnerable position. Leadership teams have generated massive amounts of wealth, as well as public recognition and praise, giving them the power to mobilize masses and public sentiment at will. Additionally, companies have gained tactical power through the accumulation of data, allowing them to shape the tastes and lifestyles of the average citizen. Finally, Big Tech companies are deeply plugged in with global capital markets (no other Chinese entity has this type of connection) giving them the opportunity to share insider information or data according to their interests. When Xi perceived that Big Tech began to deviate from fully aligning with his interests and visions, the benefits gained from Big Tech stopped outweighing the costs. As a result, China is moving Big Tech to fit within its normal censorship and regulation guidelines. Therefore, China’s crackdown on Big Tech can be interpreted as a logical extension of the Great Firewall. At this point, the censorship regime has been well-established and effective, but it still has a big hole: lack of control over Big Tech. Now China is simply checking one of the last boxes.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.