Leaders or “Guides” of Public Opinion? The Media Role of Chinese Foreign Policy Experts – Modern China – article

Leaders or “Guides” of Public Opinion? The Media Role of Chinese Foreign Policy Experts

Pascal Abb | Modern China

2019-10-22

This article explores the growing role of think tank experts in Chinese media coverage on international issues and determines the degree to which voices in this spectrum diverge from each other as well as the official line espoused by China’s central media organs. It combines a large-sample sentiment analysis of commentaries published by three major institutes that have developed significant public profiles with an in-depth discussion of selected pieces written by especially prolific experts. Based on the results, I argue that Chinese expert commenters sometimes enrich media coverage and show a substantial variety in opinions among them, but prevailing political constraints, skewed incentives, and a slanted media environment keep them from realizing their full potential as public intellectuals. This limits their usefulness both for improving policy outcomes and for managing public expectations about China’s rise.

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