Exploring the country co-occurrence network in the twittersphere at an international economic event

Xinzhi ZHANG*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingConference proceedingpeer-review


This paper explores how international relations are represented on social media in the context of an international economic event, specifically the “Belt and Road Initiative” proposed by the government of mainland China. The present study focuses on the country co-occurrence network represented in the Twittersphere, such that a link is established between two countries if they appear in the same tweet. The study also investigates how the formation of such a network can be explained by geographical, political, and economic factors. An application programming interface (API) harvested all relevant public tweets (n= 26,515) in a one-month time span (2 June–28 June 2017). The names of the countries or regions were extracted to establish the network, with 52 nodes (countries or regions) and 86 edges. Social network analysis revealed that mainland China, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Greece, Kenya, and Iran were in the network’s important positions, as indicated by their high betweenness centrality. Exponential random graph modeling (ERGM) results suggested that West Asian countries engaging heavily in international polities, countries with lower levels of press freedom, and those receiving less direct investment from mainland China, were more likely to be tweeted together.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocial Media Processing - 6th National Conference, SMP 2017, Proceedings
EditorsHuan Liu, Xing Xie, Xueqi Cheng, Huawei Shen, Weiying Ma, Shizheng Feng
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)9789811068041
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event6th National Conference on Social Media Processing, SMP 2017 - Beijing, China
Duration: 14 Sept 201717 Sept 2017

Publication series

NameCommunications in Computer and Information Science
ISSN (Print)1865-0929


Conference6th National Conference on Social Media Processing, SMP 2017

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Mathematics(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Country co-occurrence network
  • Exponential random graph models
  • International relations
  • Social network analysis
  • Text mining
  • Twittersphere


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