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China’s Weibo: Is faster different?

Sullivan, Jonathan



The popularization of microblogging in China represents a new challenge to the state's regime of information control. The speed with which information is diffused in the microblogosphere has helped netizens to publicize and express their discontent with the negative consequences of economic growth, income inequalities and official corruption. In some cases, netizen-led initiatives have facilitated the mobilization of online public opinion and forced the central government to intervene to redress acts of lower level malfeasance. However, despite the growing corpus of such cases, the government has quickly adapted to the changing internet ecology and is using the same tools to help it maintain control of society by enhancing its claims to legitimacy, circumscribing dissent, identifying malfeasance in its agents and using online public opinion to adapt policy and direct propaganda efforts. This essay reflects on microblogging in the context of the Chinese internet, and argues that successes in breaking scandals and mobilizing opinion against recalcitrant officials should not mask the reality that the government is utilizing the microblogosphere to its own advantage. © The Author(s) 2013.


Sullivan, J. (2014). China’s Weibo: Is faster different?. New Media and Society, 16(1), 24-37.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 1, 2013
Online Publication Date Feb 7, 2013
Publication Date Feb 1, 2014
Deposit Date May 22, 2015
Publicly Available Date May 22, 2015
Journal New Media & Society
Electronic ISSN 1461-7315
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 16
Issue 1
Pages 24-37
Keywords Authoritarian; China; Cyber-activism; Microblogging; New and social media; Political change; Weibo
Public URL
Publisher URL
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address:
Additional Information The final version of this paper has been published in New Media & Society, vol 16/issue 1, February/2014 by SAGE Publications Ltd, All rights reserved. ©The authors, 2013. It is available at:

This paper has been funded by a research grant from the British Academy, Grant Reference : Small Grant (#SG100412)


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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address:

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