The media and urban contention in China: a co-empowerment model

Fanxu Zeng*, Yu HUANG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Since the 1990s, China has witnessed a rapid rise in urban contention, which has become increasingly apparent. This study proposes a co-empowerment model regarding the relationship between the Chinese media and contentious politics. It compares two recent cases of urban contention. On the one hand, protestors leverage media exposure to arouse public attention, organize action, and adjust their actions according to the information revealed by the media; on the other hand, the media are empowered to exploit the limited space in news coverage, protect their professional integrity, enhance their credibility, and develop close ties with the civil society. This mutually strengthening process is the most important feature of the co-empowerment model. The co-empowerment model influences the trajectories of contention and facilitates greater media autonomy in an authoritarian regime. This study's contribution is a thematic analysis of the co-empowering relationship between media and urban contention in illiberal states.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-252
Number of pages20
JournalChinese Journal of Communication
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2015

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Communication

User-Defined Keywords

  • authoritarian regime
  • co-empowerment model
  • social media
  • traditional media
  • urban contention


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