How China is sweeping up its own social media mess | #socialmedia

By Joyce Chan, China Media Project.

On May 1, as India faced a deadly second wave of Covid-19 infections amid a chronic shortage of hospital beds and oxygen, a Weibo post by China Chang’an Web (中国长安网) sought to grab readers by playing to a sense of national pride. The post showed two images side-by-side: on the left, China’s Tianhe space module burning off rocket fuel; on the right, the scene of a mass outdoor cremation of Covid-19 victims in India. “China lighting fires VS India lighting fires,” read the snide text of the post.

Photo: China Media Project.

The juxtaposition quickly triggered a massive social media storm in China. While some defended the post, others saw it as morally reprehensible, displaying cruel disregard for the people of India. Beyond the debate over substance, the post prompted deeper questions about the role of China’s so-called “government affairs new media” (政务新媒体), those social media accounts operated by administrative organs and institutions at all levels in order to help disseminate the policies of the central leadership to the grassroots – and to transmit upwards the concerns of the public.

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