We Hear You: Evidence from Chinese State-run Media’s Selective Engagement with International News

20 February 2024, Version 2
This content is an early or alternative research output and has not been peer-reviewed at the time of posting.


Autocrats have always sought to win the hearts and minds of their citizens, but whether they are more capable of achieving this goal through direct interactions with citizens on social media is an open question. This study examines the communication strategies of Chinese state-run media on social media regarding international news. I draw on observational data from Weibo, to reveal how state-run media engage with international news. Their engagement manifests in two modes, neutrally or sensationally. The more neutral and moderate approach adopted by state-run media in their narratives is likely to elicit positive evaluations of the host government or exacerbate negative perceptions of the foreign country’s situation, particularly in the case of the U.S. This paper demonstrates how the nuanced media strategies employed by state-run media in engaging the online public on social media can engender greater public support for the government than previously assumed.


Political communication
Authoritarian politics
Social media
Machine learning


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