When Tsai Ying-wen was declared the first female president of Taiwan, the government of the People’s Republic of China responded immediately: It bluntly warned the new government led by Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party from any movement towards independence. At the same time, China’s internet censors put Tsai's name on the list of forbidden search words in the popular microblogging service Weibo. The example demonstrates the importance the Chinese leadership nowadays attaches to the social media. But Beijing has also realized that public opinion cannot only be controlled by means of censorship.
Kristin Shi-Kupfer, Director of the Research Area on Politics, Society, Media at MERICS, Policy Fellow Hauke Gierow and Visiting Academic Fellow Karsten Luc take a look at how the Chinese leadership deals with the growing importance of social media when it comes to devising strategies for political communication.