The Making of a Neo-Propaganda State

China's Social Media under Xi Jinping

Series: 

Author: Titus C. Chen
Why has China’s authoritarian government under Xi Jinping retained popular support without political reforms? Drawing on Chinese social media data, in this book Titus C. Chen argues that China’s digital propaganda and information control techniques--the monopolistic exercise of market authoritarianism--have empowered the Xi administration to manipulate public discourse and shape public opinion via social media. Chen argues that these techniques forge a sense of community and unite the general public under the Chinese government, thereby legitimating autocratic rule. By enhancing our understanding of China’s digital ideological statecraft, the book makes a major contribution to the fields of China Studies and Political Communication.

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Titus C. Chen, Ph.D. (2008), University of California-Irvine, is Associate Professor of Political Science at the National Sun Yat-sen University, Taiwan. He has published articles in leading academic journals, including Journal of Contemporary China (Taylor & Francis) and The British Journal of Politics and International Relations (SAGE Journals).
List of Figures and Tables

1 Introduction
 1 Making Sense of China’s Authoritarian Resilience Under Xi Jinping
 2 Market Authoritarianism and Online thought Work
 3 The Revitalization of Party Media
 4 Online thought Work as Authoritarian Signaling
 5 Mischaracterizing Hong Kong: The “Newspeak” of a Neo-propaganda State
 6 The plan of the Book

2 China as a Post-propaganda State: The Erosion of Market Authoritarianism in the Age of Social Media
 1 Introduction
 2 Market Authoritarianism: How Media Marketization Sustained Authoritarianism in China
 3 China’s State–media Relationship in the Age of Social Media: The State Losing Both Control and Influence
 4 Chapter Conclusion

3 Regaining Control, Reclaiming Influence: Xi Jinping’s Grand Strategy for Taming Social Media
 1 Introduction
 2 Setting the Stage for the New Leader: The Intensification of Online Censorship Targeting Social Media
 3 Conceptual Developments of Xi Jinping’s thought Control Strategy (2013–2014)
  3.1 Showing True Colors: Main Melody, Positive Energy, and “Grand Propaganda”
  3.2 Social Management and Cultural Management: Xi Jinping’s Blueprint for thought Control on the Internet
 4 Instituting and Substantializing Xi Jinping’s thought Control Strategy on the Internet
  4.1 Centralizing the Command Structure of the Cyber Affairs System
  4.2 Regaining Control: The Proposition of “Cyber Sovereignty”
  4.3 Reclaiming Influence: The Initiative of “Media Convergence” (´CÊ^¿Ä¦X)
 5 Constructing a Regulatory Framework Favoring Online thought Control
  5.1 Reinforcing Regime Presence and Influence on Social Media
  5.2 Enhancing Control Mechanisms over Social Media Access and Content
  5.3 Reinforcing Online Influence Work
 6 Chapter Conclusion: The Party-lization of Chinese Social Media Market

4 Entrepreneurial Mouthpieces: Party Media as Digital thought Workers
 1 Introduction
 2 Conceptualizing Party Media as Digital thought Workers
 3 Locating Party Media in the Regime’s Grand Scheme of “Media Convergence”
 4 People’s Daily: Pioneering Online thought Work on Social Media
  4.1 The “Central Kitchen” Model: Mass Producing Online thought Work Materials
  4.2 One Paper, Multiple Outlets: Effective Circulation of Pro-regime Content
  4.3 The Business of Net-watching: Online Surveillance and Censorship Operations
 5 A Propaganda Deluge on the Chinese Internet
 6 Chapter Conclusion

5 Autocracy Marketized: Surveying the Party-state’s Hegemonic Discursive Patterns on Social Media
 1 Introduction
 2 Chinese Social Media as an Arena for Hegemonic Communication Power
 3 Introducing the WeChat Data and Research Methods for Content Analysis
 4 Exploring Layout Features of Pro-regime Social Media Posts
 5 Topic Modeling the Content of Pro-regime Social Media Posts
 6 Tracking Diachronic Changes in the Content Structure of Pro-regime Social Media Posts
 7 Examining Framing Techniques of “Mainstream” Discourses on WeChat
  7.1 The Discursive Strategies of Reification and Dissimulation
  7.2 The Discursive Strategy of Legitimation
  7.3 The Discursive Strategies of Unification and Fragmentation
 8 Chapter Conclusion: The Prevalence of “Feel-good” Propaganda in Xi’s China

6 China’s Online thought Work as Authoritarian Diplomatic Signaling
 1 Introduction
 2 Costly Signals and Credible Information: A Literature Review
 3 Conceptualizing Beijing’s Authoritarian Diplomatic Signaling on Social Media
 4 Identifying and Measuring Beijing’s Diplomatic Signaling on WeChat
  4.1 Measuring the Information Coordination Costs
  4.2 Measuring the Domestic Audience Costs
  4.3 Dataset for Empirical Analyses
  4.4 Case Studies for Empirical Analyses
 5 Beijing’s Diplomatic Signaling During the Intensified US–China Trade Disputes (May 2019)
  5.1 Comparing Operational Patterns of Beijing’s Diplomatic Signaling
  5.2 Comparing Beijing’s Information Coordination Costs for Handling Trade Dispute Incidents
  5.3 Comparing Beijing’s Domestic Audience Costs Generated by Trade Dispute Incidents
 6 Chapter Conclusion: Diplomatic Signaling for Domestic Purposes

7 Misrepresenting Hong Kong: China’s Disinformation Against the Rallying Cry for Democracy
 1 Introduction
 2 Beijing’s Early Responses to the Anti-Extradition Bill Movement in Hong Kong
 3 June–August 2019, a Critical Juncture
 4 Shifting Approaches of China’s Online Influence Operations Targeting the Hong Kong Protests
 5 Traitors, Flag Guardians, and Azhong Gege: Disinformation with Chinese Characteristics
 6 Chapter Conclusion

8 China as a Neo-propaganda State
 1 Marketized Ideological Work Matters
 2 Ideological Work Going Abroad
 3 A call for Future Research

References
Index
University, academic, and general-interest libraries; think tanks; scholars, specialists, and undergraduate/post-graduate students of China Studies, China’s state-media relationship and foreign relations, political communication, digital politics, media studies, and political communication.