When Beijing’s Online Propaganda Goes Awry

Engagement between government-affiliated Weibo accounts and ordinary users can sometimes produce messy results, writes expert contributor Yiyi Lu.

Yiyi Lu writes: Nowadays, China’s social media users are increasingly polarized in their ideological orientations. But several recent cases suggest that the engagement between government-affiliated Weibo accounts and ordinary users can sometimes produce messy results rather than straight propaganda victories for the state.

“When leftist and rightist social media users clash on Weibo, China’s main microblogging platform, one would expect that accounts maintained by state organs and individual cadres would lend their support to leftist users. This has indeed happened in reality, but the reality is also far more complex.”

China’s social media users are generally divided between leftists and rightists. The leftists are typically people who combine an emphasis on domestic political stability, sovereignty and national dignity with a strong belief in the leadership of the Communist Party. The rightists, meanwhile, tend to be liberals who favor democracy, rule of law and constitutionalism.

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“Often, the leftists call the rightists ‘running dogs of the Americans’ or the ‘Leading-the-Way Party’—suggesting that if China and the US were to go to war, the rightists would betray their country by helping the American army find its targets.”

Often, the leftists call the rightists “running dogs of the Americans” or the “Leading-the-Way Party”—suggesting that if China and the US were to go to war, the rightists would betray their country by helping the American army find its targets. Rightists tend to deride the leftists as members of the “Fifty-Cent Party”—implying that they are paid to post pro-government comments online—or “patriotraitors,” self-proclaimed patriots whose extreme nationalism actually harms China’s national interests.

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“Rightists tend to deride the leftists as members of the ‘Fifty-Cent Party’—implying that they are paid to post pro-government comments online—or “patriotraitors,” self-proclaimed patriots whose extreme nationalism actually harms China’s national interests.”

When leftist and rightist social media users clash on Weibo, China’s main microblogging platform, one would expect that accounts maintained by state organs and individual cadres would lend their support to leftist users. This has indeed happened in reality, but the reality is also far more complex.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

It is impossible to tell how many Chinese state organs and individual government employees are currently active on Weibo, as they may open accounts anonymously. Weibo offers users the option of maintaining a certified account once their identity is verified by the microblogging service. By the end of 2014, 94,164 state organs and 35,939 state employees had opened certified Weibo accounts. These accounts are referred to hereafter as “government-affiliated Weibo.”
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Recommended Weekend Listening: MZ Hemingway on The Federalist Radio Hour

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…Later the Texas policy expert explained the competing liberal and conservative visions implicit in the King v. Burwell Supreme Court Case.audio-button

Senior Federalist Writer, Rich Cromwell also joined the program to highlight his and Mollie’s new sex column.

You can listen here

The Federalist Radio Hour


REWIND: Remember That Time Elizabeth Warren Said A Shutdown Was ‘Anarchy’?

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 writes: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was against government shutdowns before she was for them. Last year, she railed against Republicans and said they wanted to shut down the government in order to prevent food inspections, allow lead into children’s toys manufactured in China, and deform babies through their mothers’ use of unsafe morning sickness pills.

Seriously, she said that:

You’d think that they believe that the government that functions best is a government that doesn’t function at all. So far, they haven’t ended government, but they have achieved the next best thing: shutting the government down. But behind all the slogans of the Tea Party and all the thinly veiled calls for anarchy in Washington, behind all that, there’s a reality.

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The American people don’t want the extremist Republican’s bizarre vision of a future without government. They don’t support it. Why? Because the American people know that without government, we would no longer be a great nation with a bright future. The American people know that government matters.

The anarchy gang is quick to malign government, but when was the last time anyone called for regulators to go easier on companies that put lead in children’s toys? Or for food inspectors…(read more)

My, my, my, how things have changed. Now Warren is suddenly a big fan of government shutdowns. She’s such a big fan that she’s trying to orchestrate one all by herself:

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Weird. I was told last year that threatening to block a spending bill over one provision was tantamount to treason. I was told that hostage-taking during the budget negotiation process was downright un-American. Read the rest of this entry »


What’s Next For Health Care Policy?

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Ben Domenech writes:  Over the past few days we’ve seen an ever-increasing number of voices on the Left, most of whom laughed at the prospects of Obamacare as a train wreck a few months ago, gradually opening up about their concerns on the future of the law.  They aren’t saying it’s going to fail now, mind you – but they are gaming out a future where things just don’t work out as they had intended, where the combination of implementation failures and unfixable policy come together to make a real mess of things. It raises the possibility of the post-Obamacare era, with policy writers on the left finally recognizing that there will be another round of health care reform in the near future.

What might post-Obamacare health care policy look like?

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