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The PRC Twitter List: The Rise of China on Twitter

“Twittering China’s stories well” – about the surge of Chinese official accounts on Twitter.

Manya Koetse

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Over the past year, there’s been more media coverage on the growing influence of China on global media. When it comes to social media, Twitter has seen a significant surge in accounts representing Chinese official media, diplomatic missions, and state organizations. What’s on Weibo gives an overview of these Twitter accounts and the rise of China on Twitter.

Apart from the countless Chinese official media and government accounts on China’s domestic social media platform Weibo, there is now an increasing number of Beijing-linked accounts that have gone beyond the Great Firewall and have set out for Twitter.

Official Chinese accounts have become more present and more active on foreign social media over the past few years, and we have found that there has been a significant surge of new official accounts arriving on Twitter in 2019 and in early 2020.

Within China, Weibo and WeChat have become increasingly relevant when it comes to public diplomacy. For years now, foreign embassies, media, pundits, and government organizations from all over the world are active on Chinese social media platforms.

The growing ubiquity of digital diplomacy is unsurprising: social media platforms are a low-cost and convenient tool for engaging with local audiences for public diplomacy purposes.

In our article “Digital Diplomacy: These Foreign Embassies Are Most (Un)Popular on Weibo” (2016), we explored the popularity of foreign embassies on Sina Weibo. There is even a term for this kind of diplomacy via Weibo: “Weiplomacy.”

While foreign actors are active on Weibo and other platforms, Chinese actors are also increasingly active in the English-language social media sphere.

The use of Twitter for diplomacy uses is not new, nor is it unique to China. The term used for public diplomacy strategies on Twitter is ‘Twiplomacy,’ and government officials from as many as 178 countries have been using Twitter for diplomatic purposes (Guo et al 2019, 563-564).

 

CHINA’S TWIPLOMACY

 

The use of Twitter for Chinese government purposes has received more media attention recently. In June of this year, news came out that Twitter suspended more than 23,000 ‘fake’ accounts for allegedly being linked to the Chinese Communist Party and spreading ­false information and promote Party narratives to undermine the Hong Kong protests and/or to counter criticism of Beijing’s handling of COVID-19 (Washington Post, 2020).

This development is somewhat surprising, as previous studies have found no evidence of these kinds of automated processes on Twitter as part of Chinese international propaganda efforts (Bolsover & Howard 2019). Noteworthy enough, it was previously found that those using bot activities on the platform to manipulate information about China and Chinese politics were actually anti-China groups (ibid., 2076).

What is clear from the recent growing presence of Chinese state-related accounts on Twitter, is that online political communication promoting Chinese interests is often manually done by real accounts and real people, e.g. state employees, as part of their regular jobs.

China’s shift from traditional forms of public diplomacy and propaganda to more innovative and digital ones has been ongoing for years. Since Xi Jinping’s ascension to power, the media strategy of “telling China’s story well” started to become more prominent in foreign diplomacy efforts (Shambaugh 2020, 17).

But also before this time, between 2009 and 2011, there was a heightened focus on China’s international media presence, with the government spending billions on a global media plan, mainly executed via media agencies such as Xinhua, China Daily, CCTV, and China Radio International (Bolsover & Howard 2019, 2065; Huang & Wang 2020, 118).

The One Belt, One Road summit in May of 2017 was an important digital media moment as Chinese state media and official social media accounts shared new kinds of promotional campaigns targeted at domestic and foreign audiences (see our article). In that same year, social media also played a major role in the propagation of PRC’s “New Era,” which was promoted via short videos, cartoons, and gifs (also see this article).

Whereas China’s foreign online public diplomacy previously mostly seemed to focus on promoting the positive image of China as a peaceful nation (the 2020 study by Huang and Wang on ‘panda engagement’ analyzes the panda-themed tweets of official media accounts on Twitter), we have seen a different trend in China’s digital public diplomacy over the past year.

Yes, there are still panda tweets. But Twitter is also used more and more to also aggressively defend China’s image and attacking others while spreading official narratives on contentious issues such as the South China Sea dispute, US-China trade war, alleged human rights violations in Xinjiang, the Hong Kong protests, and China’s handling of the COVID19 outbreak.

Example of public diplomacy on Twitter, via Ministry of Foreign Affairs @MFA_China (screenshot by What’s on Weibo).

This is not always done in the most sophisticated way. One noteworthy example is that of the China State Council Information Office, tweeting under the (unverified) handle of @chinascio. In 2016 and early 2017, the account repeatedly responded to other twitterers using slang terms such as “dude” or “bro” (“better for you to learn a whole picture of China, dude“), causing hilarity among Twitter users. James Griffith (@jgriffiths) even covered the issue on the CNN website, highlighting the account’s use of the “truth ain’t lie dude” phrase. The controversy was also covered by Chinese Huanqiu Online (Global Times) media outlet.

Other official accounts, such as People’s Daily or that of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have also sent out tweets in the past that seemed somewhat out of character, using common slang terms such as “dude” or “LOL.”

Over the past two years, Chinese Twitter strategies seem to have become more sophisticated, with an increasing number of state media, diplomatic missions and government organizations joining the American social media platform.

There are, however, new rows coming up over the Twitter use of Chinese officials. In May of 2020, China’s embassy in Paris sent out a tweet portraying a grim reaper – dressed in US flag while holding a scythe with the Star of David – knocking on the door of Hong Kong, with a text saying: “Who’s next?”

Screenshot as posted by Isaac Stone Fish on Twitter
@isaacstonefish

The embassy soon deleted the tweet and released a statement saying its Twitter was hacked. It was not the first time the Embassy came under scrutiny for its Twitter use; the Chinese Ambassador to France was summoned to the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs in April for a series of other provocative tweets during the coronavirus crisis.

The French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs stated that the tweets were not “keeping with the quality of the bilateral relationship between our two countries.”

Although Chinese state media outlet Global Times wrote about the official Twitter account that the “Chinese Embassy’s humorous satirical taste delights social media users,” these kinds of online altercations show that China’s global diplomatic offense on Twitter can lead to offline clashes, or rather, that online and offline diplomacy are no longer separate worlds. Digital diplomacy is thus not necessarily just ‘digital diplomacy’ – it’s diplomacy, period.

 

TWITTER USE IN CHINA

 

That there is a growing presence of Chinese official accounts on Twitter does not mean that there is also growing freedom for Chinese web users to use the platform from within mainland China.

Twitter has been blocked in China since June 2009, and is inaccessible unless web users make use of software to circumvent censorship and to jump over the Great Firewall of China. Only a small percentage of Chinese web users do so.

According to a survey by political scientist Daniela Stockmann, cited in the New York Times, some 0.4 percent of China’s internet users, roughly 3.2 million people, use Twitter.

Not only is Twitter blocked in China – Chinese nationals who post critical views on the platform could end up in trouble. In his 2019 New York Times article, Paul Mozur explored the Beijing crackdown of Twitter, writing that a growing number of Chinese twitterers are questioned or even detained for their activities on Twitter.

Chinese activists quoted in the article talk about being advised to remove tweets, and also about being interrogated, threatened, and physically restrained over their Twitter behavior.

Telling – or rather, Twittering – China’s stories well is a key mission in China today. But who Twitters these stories in what ways is strictly controlled.

 

ABOUT THIS LIST

 

To give you an idea of China’s new Twitter diplomacy and to provide insight into the ‘official’ accounts that are active on Twitter today, we have compiled the list below for reference, consisting of some 280 relevant accounts in total.

This list only covers accounts representing mainland Chinese state media, diplomatic missions, and other government & state organizations. It leaves out individual Chinese Twitter users unless they are officially representing Chinese media and/or state and government organizations.

The number of followers for each account is recorded at the time of writing between July 11-20. Accounts are listed going from most number of followers on top.

This list is by no means complete. We might have overseen official accounts (please let us know), and it has left out, for example, the many different accounts run by Confucius Institutes worldwide, and also does not list the state-owned enterprises that are active on Twitter.

This list has been compiled manually by What’s on Weibo – it is not an official list by any means. Please note that we have included accounts that have not been verified by Twitter, as most of these accounts do not have the verified ‘v’ status (yet) – the fact that Twitter’s verified account program has been on hold for a long time might have to do with this.

Although caution is thus advised, we currently have no reason to assume that any of the accounts in this list do not belong to the person or organization they say they represent in their bio.

Contributing to this is the fact that these accounts are also followed by other official accounts that have already been verified. If an account is officially verified, we have tagged it as “VERIFIED ACCOUNT.”

In writing personal names, we stick to the way the person presents their name on Twitter. Mostly, they state their last name first, followed by the given name, but sometimes they use the Western style and turn it around.

This list is not necessarily focused on accounts tweeting in English. Many of the accounts tweet in (traditional) Chinese or other languages including Spanish, Japanese, German, or French (both media and accounts of diplomatic missions).

 

NOTEWORTHY FINDINGS

 

The first official Chinese media accounts to join Twitter are Global Times, CCTV, China Daily, and China Plus News (CRI). They all joined from April-Nov 2009, three years after the founding of Twitter, and in the same year that the platform was blocked in mainland China. This was also the year that the Chinese government under Hu Jintao reportedly spent $8.7 billion on a foreign media expansion project.

From that moment on, Chinese media accounts slowly start joining Twitter. Around the 2012-2013 period, when President Xi Jinping introduces the idea of promoting China in the digital age by “telling China’s stories well,” accounts such as China News, Xinhua News, Guangming Daily, and CGTN all join Twitter. Region-specific accounts, including People’s Daily Arabic, Xinhua Spanish, or CGTN Africa, also all join around this period.

Around the year 2017, we see a small surge in Chinese media, government, and city accounts joining Twitter. This is the year that China’s Belt and Road propaganda machine is running at full speed. It is also the year of the 19th National Congress, when Chinese media focus on the message of “supporting China’s New Era.”

But the most noteworthy first surge of Chinese ‘official’ government-related and diplomatic accounts takes place in 2019 at the time of the Hong Kong Protests. While mass demonstrations and violent clashes take place in Hong Kong, we see a total of 35 new official diplomatic/government accounts joining Twitter from July to November of 2019.

The second rise of Chinese official accounts on Twitter takes place in the period of January to March 2020, when a total of 47 new official diplomatic/government accounts join the platform during the international COVID19 crisis.

There also seems to be a clear shift in China’s “Twiplomacy” regarding the overall tone of Twitter posts. Whereas most of the city and regional accounts – arriving on Twitter since 2012 – engage in “panda twiplomacy” and promote China as a harmonious leader and beautiful tourist destination, many diplomatic and media accounts that joined Twitter later shifted tones in addressing international criticism or clarifying China’s stance in main issues concerning the international community, including the South China Sea issue and the US-China trade war.

Over recent months and weeks, the accounts of many diplomats and other accounts in this list have tweeted out images/information sheets, articles, or videos on “What is True and What is False” regarding international media reports on China’s alleged human rights violations, Hong Kong National Security Law, and COVID19 pandemic. These kinds of “true” and “false” images are often produced by Chinese media outlets and then retweeted by many embassy and/or diplomatic accounts and other media accounts. 

We also found that this list of Twitter accounts does not mirror Weibo at all – many of the accounts in this list have no presence on Weibo and thus were solely created to speak to an overseas audience.

The accounts in this list amplify each other by following each other and through retweeting. For example, the @MFA_China account (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) has over 178k followers on Twitter, and often retweets the tweets by other official accounts. The diplomatic, media, and city/region accounts often follow each other.

Here’s our list! (First version July 21, 2020, updated by adding three more diplomats on July 22, 2020).

Update August 7 2020: As of August 6, 2020, Twitter implemented government and state-affiliated media account labels on its platform. The label appears on the profile page of the relevant Twitter account, as shown in the example below.

 

LIST OF CHINA ACCOUNTS ON TWITTER

 

CHINA GOVERNMENT & STATE RELATED ACCOUNTS

CHINA DIPLOMATIC MISSIONS

 

Chinese Embassy in Pakistan
@CathayPak, 104.8K followers
(Joined Sep 2015)

Chinese Embassy in Brazil
@EmbaixadaChina, 72.8K followers
(Joined May 2018)

Chinese Embassy in Japan 中華人民共和国駐日本国大使館
@ChnEmbassy_jp, 69K followers
(Joined April 2014)

Chinese Embassy in US
@ChineseEmbinUS, 45.6K followers
(Joined June 2019)

Chinese Mission to UN
@Chinamission2un, 39.8K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined April 2015)

Chinese Embassy in Italy
@AmbCina, 33K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined May 2018)

Chinese Embassy in Spain
@ChinaEmbEsp, 26.3K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Sep 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Turkey
@ChinaEmbTurkey, 28.5K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Oct 2015)

Chinese Embassy in France
@AmbassadeChine, 24.1K followers
(Joined August 2019)

Chinese Embassy to Yemen
@ChineseEmbtoYEM, 18.2K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined September 2019)

Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the EU
@ChinaEUMission, 16K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Sep 2013)

Chinese Embassy in UK
@ChineseEmbinUK, 13.7K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Nov 2019)

Chinese Embassy in the Philippines
@Chinaembmanila, 12.2K followers
(Joined Feb 2017)

Chinese Embassy in South Africa
@ChineseEmbSA, 12K followers
(Joined Sep 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Kenya
@ChineseEmbKenya, 6662 followers
(Joined March 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Canada
@ChinaEmbOttawa, 6492 followers
(Joined June 2014)

Chinese Embassy in Tanzania
@ChineseEmbTZ, 6,064 followers
(Joined Dec 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe
@ChineseZimbabwe, 5,856 followers
(Joined Sep 2018)

Chinese Consulate General in Istanbul
@chinaconsulist, 4778 followers
(Joined Feb 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Congo
@AmbCHINEenRDC, 4654 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Jan 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Uganda
@ChineseEmb_Uga, 3943 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Jan 2018)

Chinese Embassy in Venezuela
@Emb_ChinaVen, 3785 followers
(Joined September 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Somalia
@ChineseSomalia, 3424 followers
(Joined June 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Argentina
@ChinaEmbArg, 3212 followers
(Joined March 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka
@ChinaEmbSL, 2920 followers
(Joined March 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Ethiopia
@ChinaEmbAddis, 2809 followers
(Joined December 2019)

China Mission Geneva
@ChinaMissionGva, 2574 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined May 2015)

Chinese Embassy in Hungary
@ChineseEmbinHU, 2527 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Oct 2019)

Permanent Mission of China in Vienna
@ChinaMissionVie, 2344 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Oct 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Germany
@ChinaEmbGermany, 2339 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined December 2019)

Chinese Consulate General in Chicago
@ChinaConsulate, 2315 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Feb 2019)

Chinese Embassy in the Republic of Chad
@ambchinetchad, 2272 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Sep 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Iraq
@ChinaIraq, 2187 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined January 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Ireland
@ChinaEmbIreland, 2157 followers
(Joined Feb 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Poland
@ChinaEmbPoland, 2102 followers
(Joined July 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Grenada
@ChinaEmbGrenada, 2033 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Oct 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Kazakhstan
@ChinaEmbKazakh, 1957 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Sep 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Burundi
@AmbChineBurundi, 1818 followers
(Joined June 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Guinea 中国驻几内亚大使馆
@chine_guinee, 1769 followers
(Joined Sep 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Slovenia
@ChinaEmSlovenia, 1632 followers
(Joined Dec 2017)

Chinese Embassy in Mali
@Chine_au_Mali, 1452 followers
(Joined Aug 2018)

Chinese Consulate General in Calgary
@ChinaCGCalgary, 1442 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Dec 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Austria
@chinaembaustria, 1391 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Jan 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Colombia
@china_embajada, 1343 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Feb 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Jordan
@ChineseembassyJ, 1321 followers
(Joined Sep 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Angola
@ChinaEmbAngola, 1391 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Jan 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Papua New Guinea
@ChineseEmb_PNG, 1344 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Feb 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Samoa 中国驻萨摩亚大使馆
@chinaandsamoa, 1187 followers
(Joined September 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Liberia
@ChineseLiberia, 1163 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined December 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Cameroon
@AmbChineCmr, 1130 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Dec 2019)

Consulate-Generale of China in Rio de Janeiro
@ConsulChinaRJ, 1119 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined December 2019)

Consultate General of People’s Republic of China in Nagoya
@ChnConsulateNgo, 1071 followers
(Joined Feb 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Albania
@ChinaembassyT , 1023 followers
(Joined April 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Belarus 中国驻白俄罗斯大使馆
@ZhongBai2020, 975 followers
(Joined Jan 2020)

Consulate General of China in Barcelona 中国驻巴塞罗那总领馆
@ConsulChinaBcn, 968 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Feb 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Nigeria
@china_emb_ng, 946 followers
(Joined Sep 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Denmark
@ChinaInDenmark, 904 followers
(Joined May 2017)

Chinese Embassy in the Slovak Republic 中国驻斯洛伐克使馆
@ChinaEmbSVK, 867 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Feb 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Peru
@ChinaEmbPeru, 799 followers
(Joined Feb 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Suriname
@CHNEmbSuriname, 793 followers
(Joined Sep 2019)

Consulate of China in Niigata 中華人民共和国駐新潟総領事館の新ちゃん
@ChnConsulateNgt, 737 followers
(Joined March 2020)

Consulate General of China in Jeju
@jejuZLG, 736 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined October 2019)

Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Dubai
@CGPRCinDubai, 724 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Dec 2019)

Consulate General of China in Fukuoka 中華人民共和国駐福岡総領事館
@ChnConsulateFuk, 722 followers
(Joined April 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Russia
@ChineseEmbinRus, 673 followers
(Joined Feb 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Tonga 中国驻汤加大使馆
@embassy_chinese, 611 followers
(Joined Nov 2019)

Chinese Embassy in Czech Republic
@ChineseEmbinCZ, 502 followers
(Joined Feb 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Ghana
@ChinaEmbinGH, 478 followers
(Joined March 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Djibouti
@ChineAmbDjibout, 424 followers
(Joined April 2020)

Consulat Général de Chine à Lyon
@China_Lyon, 280 followers
(Joined March 2020)

Embassy of China in the Netherlands
@ChinaEmbNL, 269 followers
(Joined June 2020)

Chinese Consulate General in Johannesburg
@ChnConsulateJhb, 241 followers
(Joined Oct 2019)

Chinese Consulate General in Sydney
@ChinaConSydney, 227 followers
(Joined April 2020)

Chinese Embassy in Serbia
@EmbChina_RS, 216 followers
(Joined May 2020)

Consulate-General of China in Strasbourg
@consulat_de, 203 followers
(Joined Feb 2020)

Chinese Consulate General in San Francisco
@ConsulateSan, 131 followers
(Joined March 2020)

Chinese Consulate General in Edinburgh
@chinacgedi, 110 followers
(Joined Feb 2020)

Chinese Consulate General in Belfast 中国驻贝尔法斯特总领事馆
@CCGBelfast, 39 followers
(Joined March 2020)

 

CHINESE AMBASSADORS AND DIPLOMATS

 

Cui Tiankai, @AmbCuiTiankai
Chinese Ambassador to the US, 79.2K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined June 2019)

Sun Weidong, @China_Amb_India
Chinese Ambassador to India, 75.8K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Dec 2017)

Liu Xiaoming, @AmbLiuXiaoMing
Chinese Ambassador to the UK, 67.8K Followers
(Joined Oct 2019)

Yang Wanming, @WanmingYang
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Federative Republic of Brazil, 47.7K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Nov 2015)

Hou Yanqi, @PRCAmbNepal
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Nepal, 43.7K Followers
(Joined June 2019)

Chen Weiqing, @AmbChenWeiQing
Ambassador of China in Saudi Arabia , 33.3K followers
(Joined July 2019)

Chang Hua, @AmbChangHua
Ambassador of China to the Islamic Republic of Iran, 16.6K followers
(Joined Oct 2019)

Wei Qiang 魏强 , @weiasecas
Chinese Ambassador to Panamá, 15.9K followers
(Joined Nov 2017)

Zhang Heqing, @zhang_heqing
Cultural Counsellor, Director of China Cultural Center in Pakistan, 15.2K followers
(Joined May 2020)

Zhang Run, @EmbZhangRun
Chinese Ambassador to Dominican Republic, 12.1K followers
(Joined Dec 2018)

Zhang Lizhong, @AmbassadorZhang
Chinese Ambassador to Maldives, 11.8K followers
(Joined June 2019)

Wang Yu 王愚, @ChinaEmbKabul
Chinese Ambassador to Afghanistan, 11.2K followers
(Joined Jan 2017)

Li Xiaosi, @li_xiaosi
Chinese Ambassador to Austria, 11.1K followers
(Joined Sep 2019)

Deng Xijun, @China2ASEAN
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to ASEAN, 10.3K followers
(Joined Jan 2020)

Chen Bo, @AmbChenBo
Ambassador of China to Serbia, 9531 followers
(Joined March 2020)

Zha Liyou 查立友, @ZhaLiyou
CG of China in Kolkata 中国驻加尔各答总领事, 9935 followers
VERIFIED (Joined August 2019)

Mu Xiaodong 沐小东, @Xiaodong_Mu
Diplomat and Consul of Chinese Embassy in Myanmar, 8086
(Joined April 2016)

Zhang Yiming, @Amb_Yiming
Ambassador of China to the Republic of Namibia, 7467 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Sep 2019)

Guo Shaochun, @China_Amb_Zim
Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe, 7434 followers
(Joined April 2019)

Liao Liqiang, @AmbLiaoLiqiang
Chinese Ambassador to Egypt, 7232 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Dec 2019)

Li Bijian 李碧建, @libijian2
Consul General of China to Karachi, 7011 followers
(Joined January 2020)

Ji Rong, @ChinaSpox_India
Spokesperson of Chinese Embassy in India, 6330 Followers
(Joined March 2020)

Quan Liu @AmbLiuQuan
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Republic of Suriname, 5814 followers
(Joined Sept 2019)

Wang Kejian, @ChinainLebanon
Chinese Ambassador to Lebanon, 5752 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Feb 2020)

Zhu Liying (朱立英), @LiyingZHU1
Chinese Ambassador to Mali, 5593 followers
(Joined August 2019)

Ou Jianhong, @oujianhong
Embajadora de China in El Salvador, 4619 followers
(Joined August 2018)

Feng Biao, @AmbFengBiao
Chinese Ambassador To Syria, 4630 followers
(Joined March 2020)

Liu Guangyuan, @AmbLiuGuangYuan
Chinese Ambassador to Poland, 3867 followers
(Joined March 2020)

Xu Hong, @PRCAmbNL
Chinese Ambassador to the Netherlands, 3485 followers
(Joined Nov 2019)

Zhu Jing 朱京, @Amb_ZhuJing
Ambassador of People’s Republic of China to Congo, 3360 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Jan 2020)

Chen Xu, @Amb_ChenXu
Chinese Ambassador, Permanent Representative to UN office in Geneva, 3171 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Dec 2019)

Zhang Jun, @ChinaAmbUN
China’s Permanent Representative to the UN, 3013 followers
(Joined Feb 2020)

Liu Yuxi, @Ambassador_Liu
Chinese Ambassador to the AU and the UNECA, 2787 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined October 2019)

Zhao Yongchen, @DrZhaoyongchen
Chinese Ambassador to Grenada, 2416 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined July 2019)

Huang Xingyuan, @AmbassadorHuang
Chinese Ambassador to Cyprus, 2069 followers
(Joined Feb 2020)

Cao Yi (Abou Wassim), @CAOYI170610
Consul, Embassy of China in Lebanon, 2015 followers
(Joined May 2018)

Zhang Ping, @CGZhangPingLA
Official Twitter for Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Los Angeles, 1642 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Nov 2019)

Dong Zhihua, @Dong_zhihua
WA Consul General, 1607 followers
(Joined Sep 2019)

Lin Jing 林静, @CGCHINA_CPT
Chinese Consul General in Cape Town, 1451 followers
(Joined March 2020)

Cao Zhongming, @ChinaAmbBelgium
Chinese Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium, 1429 followers
(Joined Dec 2019)

Liu_Hongyang, @LiuHongyang4
Ambassador of China to Malawi, 1265 followers
(Joined Feb 2018)

Zheng ZhuQiang, @ChinaAmbUganda
Ambassador of China to Uganda, 1163 followers
(Joined March 2018)

Li Li, @AmbassadeurLiLi
Ambassador of China to Marocco, 1085 followers
(Joined Jan 2020)

Zhao Qinghua, @Dr_ZhaoQinghua
Consul General of China in Zurich and for the Principality of Liechtenstein, 765 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Feb 2020)

Li Yang, @CGChinaLiYang
Consule-General China in Rio de Janeiro, 727 followers
(Joined March 2020)

Yan Xiusheng 延秀生, @YXiusheng
Chinese Ambassador to Barbados, 614 followers
(Joined April 2020)

Chinese Embassy Bangkok, @chineseembassy1
Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Thailand, 567 followers
(Joined May 2019)

Fang Yi @FangYi85320692
Spokesperson & Head of Political Office of the Chinese Embassy in Uganda, 550 followers
(Joined Jan 2018)

Gu Wenliang 顾文亮, @GuWenliang
Agricultural Commissioner, Chinese Embassy in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 527 followers
(Joined Feb 2020)

Lijun Xing 邢立军 @xing_lijun
Chinese Diplomat in Pakistan, 514 followers
(Joined April 2017)

Lei Kezhong, @AmbassadorLei
Chinese Ambassador to Lesotho, 494 followers
(Joined March 2020)

Zhou Jian, @AmbZhouJian
Chinese Ambassador to the State of Qatar, 452 followers
(Joined Feb 2020)

Li Song 李松, @Amb_LiSong
Chinese Ambassador for Disarmament Affairs, Deputy Permanent Representative to UN Office in Geneva, 437 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined June 2020)

Du Xiaohui, @GeneralkonsulDu
Generalkonsul der VR China in Hamburg, 341 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined February 2020)

Ribiao Chen, @RibiaoChen
Minister Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in the Hague, 249 followers
(Joined Jan 2020)

SONG C.Q., @Song_Chq
Deputy Chief & Political Counselor of Chinese Embassy in Lesotho, 216 followers
(Joined Sep 2007)

Wang Donghua, @WDonghua
Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in San Francisco
(Joined March 2020)

Spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in Egypt
@CHN_EGY, 126 followers
(Joined June 2020)

Song Yichu, @YichuSong
Chinese diplomat in Pakistan, 98 followers
(Joined April 2020)

Zhang Meifang 张美芳总领事, @CGMeifangZhang
Consul General of China to Belfast, 63 followers
(Joined Jan 2020)

Liu Yuyin 刘玉印, @ChnMission
Spokesperson Permanent Mission of China to the United Nations, 13 followers
(Joined Jan 2020)

 

CHINA GOVERNMENT & STATE ACCOUNTS

 

Zhao Lijian 赵立坚 / Foreign Ministry Spokesperson
@zlj517, 731.1K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined May 2010)

Hua Chunying 华春莹 / Foreign Ministry Spokesperson
@SpokespersonCHN, 579.4K followers
(Joined October 2019)

Ministry of Foreign Affairs / Spokesperson发言人办公室
@MFA_China, 177.4K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined October 2019)

State Council Information Office of China 中华人民共和国国务院新闻办公室
@chinascio, 38.6K followers
(Joined September 2015)

Hu Zhaoming / Spokesperson of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee 中联部发言人胡兆明
@SpokespersonHZM, 6494 followers
(Joined April 2020)

CIDCA China International Development Cooperation Agency
@cidcaofficial, 4969 followers
(Joined March 2020)

Fu Cong 傅聪 / Director-General of The Department of Arms Control (MFA)
@FuCong17, 2945 followers
(Joined June 2020)

 

CITY / REGION ACCOUNTS 


Visit Xiamen
@VisitXiamen, 228.1K followers
(Joined Oct 2016)

Suzhou, China
@VisitSuzhou, 187.8k followers
(Joined Jan 2015)

Visit Wuhan
@visit_wuhan, 154.6K followers
(Joined Jan 2018)

Visit Beijing
@VisitBeijingcn, 117.4K followers
(Joined July 2014)

Shenyang
@ShenyangChina, 102.3K followers
(Joined Nov 2017)

Kunshan
@Kunshan_China, 100.5K followers
(Joined Dec 2016)

HANGZHOU TOURISM and CULTURE
@TOURISMHANGZHOU, 100.3L followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Sep 2014)

Hangzhou, China
@Hangzhou_CHINA, 95.8K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined May 2012)

Jiangsu, China
@GoJiangsu, 84.3K followers
(Joined Jan 2015)

Visit Shaanxi
@visitshaanxi, 66.7K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Dec 2013)

VisitJiangsu
@VisitJiangsu, 53.4K followers
(Joined Feb 2016)

Changsha
@ChangshaCity, 46.8K followers
(Joined April 2017)

Anhui China
@AnhuiChina, 45.1K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Jan 2018)

Visit Sichuan-China
@Amazingsichuan, 39.9K followers
(Joined Aug 2014)

Guangzhou China
@Guangzhou_City, 39.4K followers
(Joined July 2015)

FuzhouCity
@FuzhouCity, 37.2K followers
(Joined Dec 2015)

Wuzhen China
@Wuzhen__China, 34.8K followers
(Joined April 2017)

Xiangyang
@XiangyangCity, 33K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Nov 2015)

Wuxi China 魅力無錫
@WuxiCity, 31.7K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined March 2015)

Rugao City
@RugaoCity, 24.5K followers
(Joined Jan 2018)

Visit Guangxi-China
@VisitGuangxi, 23.8K followers
(Joined Dec 2017)

Nanjing China
@GoToNanjing, 22.1K followers
(Joined Oct 2017)

Guizhou, China
@iloveguizhou, 14K followers
(Joined July 2018)

Visit Weifang, China
@visitweifang, 12.8K followers
(Joined Sep 2016)

Hefei, China
@HefeiChina, 8857 followers
(Joined March 2018)

Ordos, China
@OrdosChina, 7447 followers
(Joined May 2017)

Visit Haikou
@visithaikou, 7020 followers
(Joined Oct 2016)

Discover Foshan
@DiscoverFoshan, 6812 followers
(Joined Dec 2019)

Visit Yantai
@VisitYantai, 6113 followers
(Joined Nov 2016)

Incredible Jinan
@JinanofChina, 6513 followers
(Joined August 2019)

Chengdu China
@Chengdu_China, 4710 followers
(Joined Feb 2012)

Discover Hohhot
@HohhotChina, 4547 followers
(Joined July 2019)

Visit Xi’an
@VisitXian, 3734 followers
(Joined Aug 2017)

Friendly Shandong
@VisitShandong, 3437 followers
(Joined Nov 2013)

Discover Ningxia
@DiscoverNingxia, 2821 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Sep 2015)

This is Zhongshan
@ThisisZhongshan, 1890 followers
(Joined April 2020)

Discover Yunnan
@DiscoverYunnan, 1720 followers
(Joined Oct 2014)

Inner Mongolia China
@InnerMongolia70, 1686 followers
(Joined June 2017)

Discover Kunming
@DiscoverKunming, 1621 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Dec 2014)

Xiong’an New Area
@Xiongan_NewArea, 1271 followers
(Joined Nov 2017)

Guangdong China
@iGuangdong, 1164 followers
(Joined Nov 2015)

Visit Rizhao
@VisitRizhao, 562 followers
(Joined January 2017)

Visit Wulong
@VisitWulong, 550 followers
(Joined Sep 2016)

Visit Zhengzhou
@visitzhengzhou, 390 followers
(Joined Feb 2017)

Visit Kaifeng
@visitkaifeng, 275 followers
(Joined September 2016)

Visit Jining
@VisitJining, 180 followers
(Joined Feb 2017)

Visit Tianjin
@VisitTianjin, 163 followers
(Joined Jan 2017)

Visitluoyang
@VisitLuoyang, 136 followers
(Joined March 2017)

Visit Fuzhou
@visit_fuzhou, 113 followers
(Joined April 2017)

Visit Zunyi
@VisitZunyi, 93 followers
(Joined Dec 2016)

Visit Weihai,China
@VisitWeihai, 71 followers
(Joined Oct 2016)

Zhejiang Tourism
@tourzj1, 54 followers
(Joined March 2014)

Invest Nantong
@InvestNantong, 46 followers
(Joined March 2020)

Visit Quzhou
@VisitQuzhou, 3 followers
(Joined June 2020)

 

CHINA OFFICIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS AND STATE-OWNED MEDIA OUTLETS


CGTN
@CGTNOfficial, 13.9M followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Jan 2013)

China Xinhua News
@XHNews, 12.6M followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined February 2012)

People’s Daily, China
@PDChina, 7.1M followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined May 2011)

China Daily
@ChinaDaily, 4.3M followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Nov 2009)
*(Wang Hao, @hongfenghuang
Deputy editor-in-chief of China Daily, 8811 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Sep 2017))

Global Times
@globaltimesnews, 1.8M followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined June 2009)
*(Hu Xijin @胡锡进
Editor-in-chief Global Times, 408.3K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Aug 2014))

New China 中文
@XinhuaChinese, 1.3M followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Aug 2015)

China.org.cn
@chinaorgcn, 1.1M followers
(Joined May 2010)
*(Xiaohui Wang 王晓辉 @wangxh65
Editor-in-Chief of http://China.org.cn., 1194 followers
(Joined April 2020))

CCTV
@CCTV, 1M followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined July 2009)

CGTN Français
@CGTNFrancais, 1M followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Aug 2013)

China Science
@ChinaScience, 1M followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Aug 2019)

Modern China
@PDChinaBusiness, 931.8K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Aug 2019)

Beautiful China
@PDChinaLife, 870.1K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Aug 2019)

China Plus News
@ChinaPlusNews, 771.8K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined April 2009)

People’s Daily 人民日報
@PDChinese, 753.3K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined June 2013)

CGTN Arabic
@cgtnarabic, 692.3K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Dec 2016)

Xinhua Sports
@XHSports, 656K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined May 2016)

China News 中国新闻网
@Echinanews, 649.9K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined July 2011)

CGTN en Español
@cgtnenespanol, 604.6K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Aug 2016)

Xinhua Culture&Travel
@XinhuaTravel, 545k followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Feb 2019)

China News Service 中國新聞社
@CNS1952, 486.2K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined July 2013)

FlyOverChina
@FlyOverChina, 448.2K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined March 2019)

SHINE (Shanghai United Media Group)
@shanghaidaily, 415.9K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined January 2009)

CGTN America
@cgtnamerica, 289.1K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined June 2012)

Yicai Global 第一财经 (Financial news arm of Shanghai Media Group)
@yicaichina, 263,2K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined March 2016)

Guangming Daily
@Guangming_Daily, 238.6K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined June 2012)

Pueblo En Línea /Spanish version of People’s Daily Online
@PuebloEnLnea, 150K followers
(Joined Dec 2012)

CGTN Africa
@cgtnafrica, 146.2K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined June 2012)

People’s Daily Arabic صحيفة الشعب اليومية بالعربية
@PeopleArabic, 132.5K followers
(Joined Dec 2012)

China Xinhua Español
@XHespanol, 118.1K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined July 2012)

CPEC Official (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor by CRI)
@CPEC_Official, 102.7K followers
(Joined Jan 2016)

Beijing Review
@BeijingReview, 96.6K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined June 2009)

Quotidien du Peuple
@french_renmin, 86.7K followers
(Joined Aug 2011)

CRI Français
@CriFrancais, 77K followers
(Joined Jan 2016)

Sixth Tone (Shanghai United Media Group)
@sixthtone, 75.6K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Feb 2016)

China Xinhua News Japanese
@XHJapanese, 61.8K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined March 2015)

Xinhua North America
@XHNorthAmerica, 38.8K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Dec 2016)

People’s Daily Japanese 人民網日本
@peopledailyJP, 34.3K followers
(Joined May 2011)

ShanghaiEye (SMG: Shanghai Media Group)
@ShanghaiEye, 29.4K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined October 2015)

China Daily Asia
@ChinaDailyAsia, 28.3K followers
(Joined April 2011)

CCTV+
@CCTV_plus, 27.7K followers
(Joined Jan 2015)

Renmin Ribao Online
@RenminDeutsch, 27.4K followers
(Joined May 2014)

China Culture
@Chinacultureorg, 21.8K followers
(Joined Nov 2015)

CRI Japanese CRI日本語
@CRIjpn, 20.5K followers
(Joined Feb 2015)

Qingdao / ChindaDaily
@loveqingdao, 19.7K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Nov 2016)

Global Times Chinese 环球时报
@GlobalTimes_CN, 18.9K followers
(Joined May 2018)

Chine Nouvelle
@XHChineNouvelle, 17.3K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined July 2014)

Xinhua Myanmar
@XHMyanmar, 13.1K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Feb 2015)

ChinaXinhuaPortugues
@XHportugues, 12.8K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Sep 2015)

The Business Source
@GlobalTimesBiz, 12.6K followers
(Joined Feb 2016)

China Daily Europe
@ChinaDailyEU, 10.9K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined May 2011)
*(Chen Weihua 陈卫华, @chenweihua
China Daily EU Bureau Chief, 21.5K followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Nov 2009))

@XHSwahili
@XHSwahili, 9587 followers
(Joined July 2015)

CGTN Europe
@CGTNEurope, 8302 followers
(Joined Dec 2016)

The Paper 澎湃新闻 (Shanghai United Media Group)
@thepapercn, 7725 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined August 2019)

CCTV Arabic
@cctvarabic, 6446 followers
(Joined July 2012)

China Xinhua Deutsch
@XHdeutsch, 5981 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Sep 2015)

XinhuaRomania
@XHRomania, 5491 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined July 2015)

Global Times Russia
@GlobalTimesRus, 2589 followers
VERIFIED ACCOUNT (Joined Nov 2017)

GTLife
@GlobalTimesLife, 1720 followers
(Joined April 2016)

CGTN World Insight with Tian Wei
@WorldInsight_TW, 1517 followers
(Joined Feb 2017)

Women of China
@womenofchina, 1400 followers
(Joined Jan 2011)

People’s Daily app

@PeoplesDailyapp, 1379 followers
(Joined Feb 2018)

China Daily Hong Kong
@CDHKedition, 1141 followers
(Joined May 2020)

CGTNChina24
@China24Official, 720 followers
(Joined Oct 2019)

China Daily Africa
@CDAfricaNews, 690 followers
(Joined Aug 2016)

China Daily USA
@ChinaDailyUSA, 652 followers
(Joined Sep 2018)

Visual China / ChinaDaily
@CD_visual, 645 followers
(Joined May 2020)

China.org.cn German
@germanchinaorgc, 596 followers
(Joined August 2011)

Xinhua Africa
@xinhua_africa, 568 followers
(Joined April 2012)

China Daily World
@ChinaDailyWorld. 535 followers
(Joined May 2020)

CGTN Global Watch
@GlobalWatchCGTN, 514 followers
(Joined May 2018)

People’s Daily – Hong Kong
@PDChinaHK, 451 followers
(Joined June 2020)

China Daily Life
@ChinaDaily_Life, 418 followers
(Joined May 2020)

CGTN Culture
@CGTN_Culture, 362 followers
(Joined Oct 2019)

CGTN Tech
@CGTNTech, 286 followers
(Joined Dec 2018)

CGTN Stories
@CGTNStories, 267 followers
(Joined November 2019)

China Daily Opinion
@CdOpinion, 254 followers
(Joined May 2020)

CGTN Sports
CGTNSports, 183 followers
(Joined Dec 2016)

China Daily Asia-Pacific 中國日報亞太
@Chinadaily_CH, 153 followers
(Joined May 2020)

China Daily Russia
@chinadailyrus, 131 followers
(Joined April 2020)

China Daily EU
@ChinaDaily_EU, 104 followers
(Joined Feb 2019)

China Youth Daily
@ChinaYouthOL, 69 followers
(Joined Sep 2019)

By Manya Koetse


Do you find this kind of research insightful? Would you like to read more about trends in China and its online media? Please consider supporting What’s on Weibo here so we can keep writing articles such as this one. Your small donation makes a big impact.

This is original work by What’s on Weibo, please do not copy, reproduce this content, nor distribute any part of this content over any network.

References

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Avatar

    Carmen

    July 21, 2020 at 10:24 pm

    “This development is somewhat surprising, as previous studies have found no evidence of these kinds of automated processes on Twitter as part of Chinese international propaganda efforts (Bolsover & Howard 2019). Noteworthy enough, it was previously found that those using bot activities on the platform to manipulate information about China and Chinese politics were actually anti-China groups (ibid., 2076).”

    Who did this research lol I’ve found sooooo many pro-ccp accounts on Twitter when the HK issue exploded last time

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Backgrounder

Explainer: Ten Key Terms and Concepts of the 20th CPC National Congress

Take a look at the essential keywords and concepts surrounding the 20th Party Congress.

Manya Koetse

Published

on

What are the key terms and concepts mentioned in Xi Jinping’s speech that are propagated all over Chinese social media this week? Here, we explain ten important concepts and keywords that you are probably going to see much more of in the coming five years.

It is the week of the 20th CPC National Congress, China’s quinquennial major political event that is all about discussing and deciding on important Party issues, appointing Party leadership and officially announcing new governance concepts, thoughts and strategies proposed by the CPC Central Committee.

The Party Congress opened on Sunday, October 16, when Chinese leader Xi Jinping delivered his nearly two-hour-long speech reflecting on the recent past and the future of the Communist Party and the country at large, signalling the direction China will be heading.

In our earlier article covering Xi Jinping’s speech, we focused on how Chinese official channels turned parts of the work report into hashtags that were promoted on social media and then became trending topics.

Here, we will go over some of the terms and words that were used in the political report delivered by Xi and were propagated on Chinese social media as ‘key terms’ through general hashtags such as “Understanding These Key Terms from the 20th Party Congress Report,” “Studying the Essence of the 20th Party Congress” or “The New Era and Journey of the 20th Party Congress” (#看懂二十大报告中这些关键词#, #学习二十大精神#, #党的二十大新时代新征程#).

During the 19th CPC National Congress in 2017, Party newspaper People’s Daily published a vocabulary list containing 100 relevant words and terms. That list included terms such as “5G Era” (5G时代), “Sharing Economy” (分享经济), “The 20th anniversary of Hong-Kong’s return to China” (香港回归祖国20周年), “Made in China 2025” (中国制造2025), and other key terms that were deemed relevant in 2017 for China’s nearing future.

This Congress, there has not been a comparable official vocabulary list, but there have been various shorter lists and hashtags encouraging netizens to study key terms that are important to this year’s Congress and the Party goals. Many of these terms are visualized in infographics or explained in online posts and articles.

We’ve gathered some of these key terms from Xi’s speech here that are important to understand, not just for the fact that they are mentioned in Xi’s speech but also because they are specifically highlighted by various official channels.

 

1. Modernizing the Chinese Way 中国式现代化

This concept was mentioned at least five times throughout Xi Jinping’s address and it is one of most important themes of this Party Congress: “Chinese modernization” or “Chinese-style modernization” (中国式现代化 Zhōngguóshì xiàndàihuà).

While the 19th Party Congress was all about China’s ‘new era’ (新时代), this 20th Party Congress term grasps the idea of further modernizing the country in a ‘Chinese way,’ meaning a type of modernization in which typically Chinese features and characteristics (“中国特色”) are maintained.

This is a relatively new term. A tool that shows searches on the Chinese search engine Baidu indicates that it did not receive any significant amount of searches before spiking during the week 20th Party Congress.

Baidu trend search shows that the term “Chinese-style modernizarion” “中国式现代化” did not receive any significant searches before October 2022.

The concept, however, did pop up in Chinese official media discourse since late 2021, such as in one article published by Xinhua News on September 27 in 2021 titled “Grasping the Main Features of the New Path of Chinese-Style Modernization” (把握中国式现代化新道路的主要特征)

The idea of Chinese-style modernization is closely related to other key concepts such as “common prosperity for all” (全体人民共同富裕 quántǐ rénmín gòngtóng fùyù) and “harmony between humanity and nature” (人与自然和谐共生 rén yǔ zìrán héxié gòngshēng).

 

2. The Central Mission 中心任务

The term “central mission” (中心任务 zhōngxīn rènwù) was mentioned at least once in Xi Jinping’s address to convey how the central task of the CPC is to “unite and lead the people of all nationalities to build a strong socialist modern country,” and to “promote the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation with Chinese-style modernization.”

Although the term “central mission” itself is not particularly tied to the 20th Party Congress at all, it is now because of how it is being used in the new context of the Party’s ‘main goal’ in China’s ‘new era.’ People’s Daily also promoted a hashtag including this term: “The Communist Party of China’s Central Task from Now On” (#从现在起中国共产党的中心任务#”).

 

3. Top Priority 第一要务

The key term ‘top priority’ (第一要务 dì yī yàowù) refers to the Party pursuing the kind of “high-quality development” (“高质量发展”) that will lead to the further modernization of the country.

“High-quality development” was also mentioned in the 19th Party Congress report in 2017 to indicate a shift and a new phase in China’s economic development from a focus on high-speed growth to a focus on more high-quality development, which is also outlined in the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025).

This means, among others, that there will be more focus on innovation-driven industries and technological advancement.

 

4. The “Two-Steps” Strategy “两步走”战略安排

In the segment of Xi’s speech where he addresses China-style modernization in the new era, he also mentions the “two steps” strategy (“两步走”战略安排 “liǎng bù zǒu” zhànlüè ānpái). This is not a new term and it has been previously introduced as part of China’s journey to becoming a strong, rejuvenated country – making China great again.

The two steps of this strategy are to realize ‘socialist modernization’ by 2035 and then to enter the next phase from 2035-2050 to build China into a “strong, democratic, civilized, harmonious and beautiful socialist modernization country.” The year 2049 will mark the 100th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, and this is the moment when China’s “great rejuvenation” should be completed.

 

5. The Road to Follow 必由之路

At the end of Xi Jinping’s speech, he mentioned “the road to follow” (必由之路, bìyóuzhīlù) five times. On social media, the “road to follow” has been reiterated multiple times as well by official channels, including in a propaganda video published by CCTV.

The five ‘roads to follow’ mentioned in the Party Congress and in the state media videos are the following that are together presented as “the only road” the country and the Party must take. They are all linked together and are actually somewhat circular, namely:

– to develop socialism with Chinese characteristics, they must adhere to the overall leadership of the Party
– to achieve the “great rejuvenation” of China they must stick to socialism with Chinese characterics
– to reach this historic undertaking, they must be united in struggle
– to allow China to grow and develop in the ‘new era,’ they must implement the new concepts for development
– to be able to take this new road together & keep the Party full of vitality, they must follow the way of comprehensive and strict Party governance

 

6. Building Beautiful China 建设美丽中国

In the 20th CPC National Congress report, the idea of “building beautiful China” (建设美丽中国, jiànshè měilì Zhōngguó) was mentioned in the segment dedicated to the “green development” of China as part of its overall modernization. This includes environmental protection, pollution control, carbon reduction, and climate change awareness.

‘Beautiful China’ as a concept was first introduced during the 18th Party Congress in November of 2012 as part of China’s long-term environmental protection plan within the context of people’s welfare and the future of China.

 

7. Whole-process People’s Democracy 全过程人民民主

This concept of ‘whole-process people’s democracy’ (全过程人民民主, quán guòchéng rénmín mínzhǔ) is mentioned at least five times in Xi Jinping’s 20th Party Congress speech and it is one of the political concepts and terms proposed by Xi himself as part of Xi Jinping’s Socialist Thought with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. It was mentioned in the speech Xi gave during the celebration of the Party’s 100-year anniversary in 2021.

This so-called ‘whole-process people’s democracy’ is officially presented as a ‘process-oriented’ democracy that, despite being different from Western democracy, supposedly “covers all aspects of the democratic process and all sectors of society” through a combination of elections, consultations, decision-making, management and oversight.

This idea of China having its own particular kind of democracy – or perhaps having invented a Chinese version of what ‘democracy’ actually means – also suits the idea of Chinese-style modernization, in which China’s path to the future will not be like the route Western countries are taking, but instead combining modernization with Chinese features.

 

8. Socialist Culture 社会主义文化

‘Socialist Culture’ (社会主义文化, shèhuì zhǔyì wénhuà) comes up at least four times in the 20th Party Congress report. The term represents a cultural side of China’s modernization, and emphasizes that, in order to build a strong socialist country, there must also be a strong socialist culture.

Although not explicitly stated, official media propaganda inescapably plays an important part in the cultivation of a strong ‘socialist culture’ that is all about cultural self-confidence, cultural innovation, creativity, and ‘spiritual energy.’

At time of writing, the Baidu Trends tool did not have enough information to show any relevant data on the search engine interest in this particular term, but the idea of ‘socialist culture’ is by no means a new one. “Socialist culture with Chinese characteristics” was already proposed by Jiang Zemin (江泽民) at the 15th CPC National Congress in 1997.

The idea that building a strong socialist culture is important for the further development of China has been further cultivated over the past few years under Xi’s leadership. Also read this article in English titled “How to build a strong socialist culture” in Qiushi, the CPC Central Committee bimonthly.

 

9. Improve the Distribution System 完善分配制度

This phrase comes up once in the part of the 20th Party System report that disusses a fairer economic system with more equal employment & income opportunities and regulated wealth accumulation, encouraging hard work to get rich.

Although it is the first time that a regulation of wealth accumulation has come up in this way (and it is not explained what this actually means), the idea behind these concepts of the distribution system and wealth accumulation standardization is that of ‘common prosperity,’ one of the most important concepts guiding China’s recent policymaking.

‘Improve the distribution system’ (完善分配制度, wánshàn fēnpèi zhìdù) was explicilty mentioned as one of the key concepts for this week’s meeting by various channels, but it mainly is ‘the regulation of wealth accumulation’ that is featured in social media hashtags (#中国将规范财富积累机制#).

 

10. Focus 着力点

Many of the words or phrases propagated as ‘key terms’ for this 20th Party Congress are insignificant by themselves but are merely used to represent a bigger body of thoughts. The aforementioned “Top Priority,” “Central Mission,” and “Road to Follow” are all just words that only mean something within the context of Xi Jinping’s speech.

Another example is “Major Principles” (“重大原则” zhòngdà yuánzé) which is also included by CCTV in this list of most important keywords, but which actually just goes back to the same ideas that are referred to in the other terms, namely strengthing the overall leadership of the Party, adhering to the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics, emphasizing people-centered ideology, etc. – which is similar to the idea behind the “Road to Follow” (必由之路) keyword.

Explanation of ‘Major Principle’ concept in English and Chinese by People’s Daily, posted on Weibo.

Then there is the keyword “focus,” 着力点 (zhuólìdiǎn), which is about the focus of China’s economic development.

In China’s coming years, the economic focus should be placed on the real economy (实体经济). This literally is also a hashtag promoted on Weibo by CCTV this week (“Put the Focus of Economic Development on the Real Economy” #把发展经济的着力点放在实体经济上#).

Different from the Financial Economy, the Real Economy is the realm of economy that is about businesses, production, and the direct exchange/purchase of goods or services.

Also part of this ‘focus’ is China’s new industrialization, manufacturing, product quality, aerospace, transportation, new technology, and digital China. Another related term that is proposed as one of the keywords of this Party Congress is ‘innovation’ (创新, chuàngxīn).

Please check in with us again this week as we will keep an eye on social media trends surrounding the CPC National Congress. Don’t forget to subscribe. For previous posts on the Party Congress, check here.

By Manya Koetse 

 

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“Guarding the Green Horse” – How China’s Health Code System Provided Solutions and Generated Problems

The Health Code system and the ‘Green Horse’ meme have become part of everyday life in a zero-Covid China.

Manya Koetse

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Since 2020, China’s Health Code apps have become utterly ingrained in everyday life as a pivotal tool in the country’s ongoing fight against Covid-19. What is the health code system, what are its implications, and why have so many Chinese netizens become obsessed with holding on to their ‘green horse’?

 

This is the “WE…WEI…WHAT?” column by Manya Koetse, forthcoming publication in German by Goethe Institut China, visit Yì Magazin here.

 

There is the Grass Mud Horse,1 the River Crab,2 and now another mythical animal is living in China’s social media jungle: the Green Horse. The Green Horse is a cute bright green horse-like animal, a treasured creature that will protect you during your travels and keep you safe from quarantines and lockdowns at a time of China’s zero-Covid policy. The Green Horse will watch over you, but in return, you have to do everything you can to defend it.

‘Green Horse’ in Chinese is 绿马 lǜmǎ, which sounds exactly the same as the word for ‘green code’ (绿码), referring to the green QR code in China’s Covid health apps, which have become a part of everyday life in China since 2020. In a social media environment where homophones and online puns are popular and ubiquitous, it did not take long for the ‘green code’ to turn into the ‘green horse.’

The Green Horse, image via Weibo.

China’s health code system was designed as a solution to resume work and daily life during the pandemic and is widely praised in the country as a pivotal tool in combating the spread of the virus. But it has also given rise to new problems and has triggered resistance against a new kind of digital governance.

 

A SHORT INTRODUCTION TO CHINA’S HEALTH CODE SYSTEM

 

In February of 2020, when China was in the midst of the fierce battle against the novel coronavirus, the country’s tech giants competed over who would be the first and the most efficient in providing digital solutions to aid the anti-epidemic fight.

Within eight weeks after the start of the initial Wuhan Covid outbreak, Alibaba (on Alipay) and Tencent (on WeChat) developed and introduced the ‘Health Code’ (jiànkāngmǎ 健康码), a system that gives individuals colored QR codes based on their exposure risk to Covid-19 and serves as an electronic ticket to enter and exit public spaces, restaurants, offices buildings, etc., and to travel from one area to another.

Scanning a green code (image via Tech Sina, 2020).

Hangzhou, Alibaba’s hometown, and Shenzhen, Tencent’s home base, were the first cities in China to introduce the Health Code in early February of 2020, and other cities soon followed in collaboration with either Tencent or Alipay. By late February, a nationwide health code system was first embedded in WeChat (Chen et al 2022, 619).

Now, people can receive their Covid-19 QR codes via ‘mini programs’ in Alipay or WeChat, or via other provincial government service apps. Apart from the personal health code apps, there is also the ‘Telecommunications Big Data Travel Card’ (通信大数据行程卡), better known as the ‘green arrow code,’ which tracks users’ travel history and is also available inside WeChat or can be downloaded as a standalone app. Its goal is to track if you’ve been to any medium or high-risk areas over the past 14 days.

The Green Arrow Code is used to track people’s travel history of past 14 days (Image via 人民视觉).

The health code system is not as centralized as you might expect it to be. Instead, it is fragmented and sometimes complicated. There are basically two kinds of Health Codes in China. One is the ‘Health Information Code’ (防疫健康信息码) provided by China’s national government service platform (link) which can also be used by those without mainland ID cards (including people from Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan).

The other kind of Health Code, which is the one that is most used across China, is the local version of the health code system provided by each province/municipality. There are at least 31 different regional health code applications, from Beijing’s ‘Health Kit’ (北京健康宝) to Shanghai’s ‘Suishenma’ (随申码), from Jiangsu’s ‘Sukang Code’ (苏康码) to Anhui’s ‘Ankang Code’ (安康码). There are sometimes also separate health code apps being used within one province (e.g. in Shenzhen both the local Shen-i-nin 深i您 app as well as the Yuekang Code 粤康码 are being used).

These local Covid health apps are developed by different provinces and cities, and they are not always compatible with each other. This means that those traveling to different provinces or municipalities need to go through the inconvenient process of applying for different local health code apps depending on where they go. Although one single centralized system has been proposed ever since 2020, the process to unify the system is not easy since the various apps have varying functions and are managed by different local government departments (JKSB 2022; Lai 2022). In early September of 2022, China’s National Health Commission announced that it was working with relevant departments to improve the interoperability and mutual recognition of health apps across the country.

Do you get a Green, Yellow, or Red QR code? That all depends on personal information, self-reported health status, Covid-19 test results, travel history, and more – the health code system operates by accessing numerous databases. The Green color means you’re safe (low-risk) and have free movement, the Yellow code (mid-risk) requires self-isolation and the Red color code is the most feared one: it means you either tested positive or are at high risk of infection. With a red code, you won’t have access to any public places and will have to go into mandatory quarantine. Once the quarantine is finished and you’ve consecutively tested negative, the code will switch back to green again.

Three color codes in the Health Code (image via Tech Sina, 2020).

By the end of 2020, around 900 million Chinese citizens were using Health Code apps and although there are no official records of the latest numbers, virtually anyone visiting or traveling anywhere within China will now use the health code system. Besides keeping records of your latest nucleic acid test results, the Health Code app also includes Covid vaccination records since 2021.

 

LEAVING THE ELDERLY BEHIND

 

Despite the efficiency of China’s health code system, it has not been without controversy. One major issue is that it basically forces Chinese citizens to have a smartphone and to download and properly use these apps. This creates a problem for younger children, those without access to smartphones, or those with lower levels of digital skills, including senior citizens.

Although the use of smartphones, the internet, and QR codes are widespread in China, where mobile payments are far more common than cash, more than 60% of Chinese aged 60 years and over still did not use the internet in June of 2020. In China’s ‘Zero-Covid’ era, it is becoming almost impossible for China’s digital illiterate to live a ‘normal’ life.

Chinese authorities have attempted to simplify things for Chinese seniors by making platforms more user-friendly and introducing alternative ways to enter venues, such as offline codes. But at a time when systems differ per region and some venues do not have the tools to check offline (paper) codes, many elderly still struggle (see Gu & Fan 2022).

“They did nucleic acid testing in my grandma’s community compound today,” one woman from Shanxi writes on Weibo: “There are many elderly people in my grandma’s area, and I saw that so many of them had no smartphones, just senior mobile phones, but now they have to swipe a code to make an appointment for testing. One grandpa asked a staff member what to do without a smartphone, they just said it would be better to bring your son or daughter to do it for you. But all results also are processed digitally, so there’s no way for them to see it, and it’s really not easy for them to go to public places.”

On Chinese social media, there are many stories showing the difficult situations that some senior residents are caught up in because they do not have a smartphone or do not know how to get a Health Code.

In August of 2022, there was one viral story about an elderly man from Shandong walking ten kilometers every day because he could not take the bus without a health app. There was also another story about a visually impaired Hengyang resident who was unable to set up the code and was barred from using public transport. In May, a 70-year-old man got stuck inside the Wuxi train station for three days because he had no smartphone and had to scan a code in order to leave.

In another video that went viral, an old man got on a bus in Shanghai but had a hard time using his mobile phone to do the ‘venue check-in’ (场所码). When the bus driver got impatient, the man eventually got off the bus, saying he felt bad about delaying the other passengers.

“Heartlessness is scarier than the epidemic,” some Weibo commenters wrote in response.

 

RED CODE: CONTROVERSIAL DIGITAL GOVERNANCE

 

Another problem that concerns netizens in this Health Code era is that the code could pose an infringement of privacy and could be abused to limit citizens’ freedom of movement for reasons that are unrelated to Covid-19. There are still unclarities surrounding the app, such as what kind of information is exactly being collected, who is authorized to access the data, and how the data is processed and stored (Zhang 2022, 2).

Some people complain on social media that they do not understand why their Health Code is changing colors: “After I did a Covid test the other day, my Health Code was green. The day after, I woke up to a yellow code and after I had done my nucleic acid test again, it was still yellow. On the third day, it turned green. In the afternoon it turned yellow again. On day four, it was green again. Besides doing tests, I’ve been at home all this time. I’m stupefied.”

One incident where people who came to the city of Zhengzhou to protest suddenly saw their Health Codes turn red sparked major outrage on Chinese social media in June.

Earlier this year, thousands of Chinese depositors struggled to recover their savings in light of a major banking scandal in Henan Province. When dozens of affected depositors traveled to the provincial capital of Zhengzhou in June of 2022 to demand their money back, they suddenly saw their Health Codes turn red. The red code was unexpected and strange, considering that there were no new reported Covid cases in their vicinity. Accompanying family members who made the exact same journey reportedly did not see their Health Codes change, raising suspicions that the duped depositors were specifically targeted and that their Health Codes were being manipulated.

“Who is in charge of changing the Health Code colors?” became a much-asked question on social media platform Weibo, with many blaming local Henan authorities for abusing their power and trying to stop rural protesters from raising their voices in Zhengzhou. Although Henan authorities claimed they did “not understand” what had happened, five local officials were later punished for their involvement in assigning red codes to bank depositors without authorization (Wu 2022).

The incident sparked more discussions on the legal and privacy risks surrounding the health code system. Although many people in China support the use of Health Code apps (also see Chen et al), there is also a fear that a lack of transparency and management could allow the health code system to turn into a surveillance tool used by the wrong people for the wrong reasons.

The influential media commentator Hu Xijin also gave his view on the matter, saying that Health Codes across the country should only be used for “pure epidemic prevention purposes.”

“The fact that Henan can make the health codes turn red of people who come to the city to protest says a lot about the power of the IT,” one Weibo tech blogger wrote. Another Weibo user wrote: “As ordinary people, we have voluntarily given up too much of our personal privacy and rights in order to cooperate with the epidemic prevention. The current abuse and misuse of health codes have caused serious infringement on the legal rights of citizens (..) The state should quickly incorporate health codes into a unified system and place it under strict management, and once the epidemic is over, the health code system should stop running immediately.”

 

A GREEN HORSE FUTURE?

 

But will the Health Code and the ‘Green Horse’ ever disappear from daily life in China? And if so, how would the collected data be handled? Although the pandemic era is not over yet (and the question remains what would qualify as ‘the end’), local Chinese governments and tech firms are already looking to see how the health code system could be implemented and how its uses could be expanded in a post-pandemic future (Chen et al 2022, 619).

Back in 2020, the China Healthcare platform (健康界) already published an article exploring the post-pandemic use of the health code system as a digital health passport and information system that could continue to play a significant role in medical care, social security, public transportation, and tourism.

On social media, some people worry that the health code system – and everything that comes with it – is here to stay indefinitely. One Henan-based blogger wrote: “In the future, I hope my son will visit my grave and tell me, ‘dad, now we no longer need our Health Code, nucleic tests or masks when we go to the malls and take trains or airplanes.'”

“If I would wake up tomorrow in a world without health codes, travel codes, Covid tests, lockdowns, wouldn’t that be great,” another person wrote on Weibo, another netizen adding: “My health code is normal. My nucleic acid test is normal. It’s just my mental state that has become abnormal.”

The fears of receiving a ‘Red Code’ are also palpable. Earlier in summer, videos showed people in Shanghai fleeing out of a local mall once they heard that someone in the building had received notice of an abnormal test result.  The same happened at a local IKEA store. Afraid of Health Codes turning red and getting locked in, people rushed to get out as soon as possible. Some even compared the scenes to a ‘zombie apocalypse.’

People fleeing from a local IKEA store after someone in the building got an abnormal test result.

Although there are serious concerns regarding the health code system, social media users also make light of it through the ‘Green Horse’ meme. The phrase “Bàozhù lǜmǎ” (抱住绿码/马) is often used on Chinese social media, a wordplay meant to mean both “Keep your code green” as well as “Hold on to your Green Horse.”

Selection of ‘Holding on to the Green Horse’ memes.

Following the trend, Wuhan set up a giant green horse at a public square in the city, which soon became a popular place for people to take selfies. The meme is also a profitable one for businesses. On Chinese e-commerce sites, you’ll find there are ‘Green Horse’ keychains, stickers, toys, mooncakes, and coffee mugs.

Green Horse merchandise on Taobao.

As cases of Covid surged again in Chengdu, Shenzhen, and elsewhere in late August and September, worries over ‘keeping the green code’ grew again among those living in affected regions. One local Weibo blogger wrote: “I just couldn’t sleep the past few days, I kept checking my green code and latest Covid test results. It makes me anxious.”

“I feel safest at home,” others write: “This is where I can guard my Green Horse.”

“I hope this epidemic will go away soon,” one netizen wrote: “I hope we can all have our Green Horse and just keep it.”

 

By Manya Koetse
Follow @whatsonweibo

 

1 Grass Mud Horse or Cǎonímǎ (草泥馬) is one of China’s social media ‘mythical creatures’ and an online meme. It is a word play on the vulgar Mandarin term càonǐmā (肏你媽), which literally means “f*** your m*m.”

2 River Crab is another ‘mythical creature’: Héxiè (河蟹) is literally ‘river crab’ but sounds the same as héxié (和谐),”to harmonize,” referring to online censorship.

 

References (other sources linked to inside the text)

Chen, Wenhong. Gejun Hang, and An Hu. 2022. “Red, Yellow, Green, or Golden: The Post-Pandemic Future of China’s Health Code Apps.” Information, Communication & Society 25 (5): 618-633.

China Healthcare 健康界. 2020. “国家卫健委推行”一码通”健康码未来不止于”通行.”” CN Healthcare, 21 December https://www.cn-healthcare.com/article/20201221/content-547951.html [Accessed 22 Aug, 2022].

Gu, Peng and Yiying Fan. 2022. “In ‘Zero-COVID’ China, the Elderly Are Becoming Ever More Marginalized.” Sixth Tone, 9 Aug https://www.sixthtone.com/news/1010908/in-zero-covid-china-the-elderly-are-becoming-ever-more-marginalized [Accessed 22 Aug, 2022].

JKSB 健康时报网 [Health Times]. 2022. “国家健康码和地方健康码区别何在?专家:国家平台更接近理想状态.” JKSB, August 27 http://www.jksb.com.cn/html/redian/2022/0827/177853.html [Accessed 1 Sep, 2022].

Lai, Xianjin. 2022. “Unified Health Code Can Bring More Convenience, Efficiency.” China Daily, April 6 https://global.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202204/06/WS624ccc73a310fd2b29e55269.html [Accessed 31 August].

Liang, Fan. 2020. “COVID-19 and Health code: How Digital Platforms Tackle the Pandemic in China.” Social Media + Society (Jul-Sep): 1-4.

Wu, Peiyue. 2022. “Zhengzhou Officials Punished Over Red Health Code Saga.” Sixth Tone, 23 June https://www.sixthtone.com/news/1010627/zhengzhou-officials-punished-over-red-health-code-saga- [Accessed 22 Aug, 2022].

Zhang, Xiaohan. 2022. “Decoding China’s COVID-19 Health Code Apps: The Legal Challenges.” Healthcare 10 (1479): 1-14.

 

Featured image by Ama for Yi Magazin.

This text was written for Goethe-Institut China under a CC-BY-NC-ND-4.0-DE license (Creative Commons) as part of a monthly column in collaboration with What’s On Weibo.

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