This study investigates public diplomacy on a Chinese social media platform – Weibo. Examining the traffic (i.e., the number of followers) of 30 foreign embassies on Weibo, this study confirms that under certain conditions, digital diplomacy can be effective even in closed information systems. The results suggest that the number of followers an embassy has does not always increase with the economic size of a country or its bilateral economic relationships with China; instead, the number of followers of an embassy's Weibo account grows with the embassy's daily posts. Weibo allows embassies to unshackle the limitations imposed by their economic weight or geopolitical influence and to attract a larger audience through active daily posts. Using Weibo can also help foreign government representations in China manage changes in international relations. This study provides further insights into how social media have changed the traditional pattern of information flow not only in an open Internet environment but also in a closed social media environment where the Internet is under heavy censorship. It also proposes some recommendations for policy makers.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Library and Information Sciences
- Digital diplomacy
- Public diplomacy
- Soft power