The Trump Effect
The foreign ministry’s Twitter presence has drawn comparisons to US president and prolific tweeter Donald Trump, who uses the platform to attack his opponents and aggressively praise his own policies.
Beijing sees “how popular Trump is on social media, and how often Western media quote his tweets”, said Wenfang Tang, a professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
“So in that sense it’s the Trump effect.”
Chinese officials previously kept a low profile on social media, leaving the talking to state-run media outlets.
But the country’s growing political and economic clout has emboldened diplomats to speak with an increasingly assertive and nationalistic voice both on the internet and offline, said Ardi Bouwers, a media specialist at consulting firm China Circle.
That behavior also allows them to prove their loyalty to President Xi Jinping, who himself “uses patriotic language, talking about self-reliance, the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, (and) crushing attempts to divide China”, Bouwers said.
In a statement, the ministry told AFP that it has opened accounts on Twitter “in order to better communicate with other countries and better explain China’s situation and policies”.
At its daily briefing on Monday spokesman Geng Shuang was asked whether the use of Twitter is fair given the platform is blocked inside the country.
“We have the world’s largest population of internet users. At the same time, we have always managed the internet in accordance with laws and regulations,” Geng replied.
He said “the Chinese internet is open”.