Diaspora Diplomacy in Digital Era: A Comparative Analysis of Overseas Chinese Media in China-Indochina Peninsula

Zhi Lin, Zhiyuan Li, Yejinting Qiu, Yupei Zhao

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paperpeer-review


    Overseas Chinese media (or Chinese diaspora media) are run by and meet the needs of Chinese diaspora who are geographically scattered around the world but culturally bonded with China. Overseas Chinese media have become an important part of the global communication network of China for diplomatic purpose, especially in Southeast Asia where the economic, cultural and political interactions between the Chinese diaspora and their motherland has lasted for more than a century. In the past few years, the overseas Chinese media in Southeast Asia has been promoted by development of network technology and artificial intelligence that allow the media to engage with broader audiences. Moreover, while diaspora diplomacy has been an important strategy of Chinese government, these Chinese diaspora media have also been affected by the larger international context during the China–United States trade war that began in 2018 and reached the Phase One trade deal in 2020. How do the overseas Chinese media in Southeast Asia assist in diaspora diplomacy for China in the digital era? What role that the media play in the global communication network of China? To address these questions, this study conducts a comparative analysis on the news report on China by the overseas Chinese media in Southeast Asia in 2018 and 2020. It first provides historical analysis about the migration of Chinese diaspora and the development of overseas Chinese media in Southeast Asia, and then conducts textual analysis on the overseas Chinese media in seven countries along the China-Indochina Peninsula Economic Corridor (hereinafter ‘China-Indochina Peninsula’), including Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia and Singapore based on their official websites and social media accounts (i.e., Twitter, Facebook, Sina Weibo, WeChat official accounts). The results show that in 2018, the overseas Chinese media in Southeast Asia helped represent China’s image to some extent; however, they also had three features: (a) social monologue, which means that the overseas Chinese media lacked audiences, (b) internal and external imbalances, which means that the global communication of the overseas Chinese media actually focused on the audiences from mainland China rather than the audiences from Southeast Asia and the rest of the world, and (c) dialogical counterpoint, a concept borrowed from Said (1994) and Kraidy (2005), which means that the audiences especially those on social media actively commented on the media content with varied or even counter views, creating a space for all the audiences to construct multi-dimensional perspectives of China. This study will further analyse and compare whether these communicative features have changed or not in 2020 and explore in depth.


    ConferenceInternational Association for Media and Communication Research Conference (IAMCR 2020) - Reimagining the Digital Future: Building inclusiveness, respect and reciprocity
    CityOnline, Tampere University
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