This summary is provided by the IPR Digital Media Research Center

The National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee will convene their annual sessions in March, known collectively as the “Two Sessions.” The annual Two Sessions has always been viewed as an excellent opportunity to observe China’s political trends and foreign policies to the outside world. This study illustrates the Two Sessions and proposes the concept of public diplomacy network to investigate the effect of China’s public diplomacy communication on Twitter. The results present public diplomacy networks’ characteristics, key participants’ networking patterns, communication strategies, and issue participation.

This study collected Twitter data by the keywords “Two Sessions” during March 5 to March 20, 2018. After data cleaning, 14,874 tweets and 7,773 users were used for data analysis. The combination of social network analysis and content analysis were employed from a holistic, relational and network approach.

Key Findings
·      All the public diplomacy communication strategies on Twitter aim to present the image of China, and China actively set the agenda in their framing of topics to enhance discourse power.
·      China is still entrenched in traditional one-way public diplomacy communication despite a move to social media platforms.
·      Although China’s state-owned media takes the lead in public diplomacy communication, foreign practitioners dominate the NGOs, researchers, and correspondents, and generally take negative attitude towards China.
·      The key participants with the same attitude towards China are clustered while the interactions between key participants with different attitudes are less on Twitter during Two Sessions.
·      The key participants taking neutral or positive attitude towards China have stronger influence in public diplomacy communication compared to those taking negative attitudes towards China on Twitter.

Implications for Practice
·      China has been focusing on top-down, state-centered public diplomacy and image management, while civil actors such as NGOs are often perceived as more credible, trustworthy and well connected with publics.
·      Identifying network patterns is effective for increasing networking power and aiding in public diplomacy communication. The majority of Chinese media outlets underperformed in forming a joint and strategic force through closely allying with each other. Under this circumstance, it is how effectively they are combined and allied that matters in empowering public diplomacy communication.
·      Communication strategies are important to generate networking power. Understanding life and mental state of ordinary Chinese is the most effective way to know the real China, but the readability and story narration need further polish. Moreover, strict argumentation to foreign queries should be the core issue for generating networking power in public diplomacy communication.
·      Issue participation is significant in interpreting networking power. Chinese official agencies concern more issues than the other actors who mainly care about certain issues, which indicates Chinese official’s strong agenda setting power. The disparateness in issue participation reveals limitation on the potential for meaningful engagement and dialogue in a context of mutual understanding and collaboration.

Jia, R., & Li, W. (2020). Public diplomacy networks: China’s public diplomacy communication practices in twitter during Two Sessions. Public Relations Review, 46(1), 101818.

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Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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