Stories about the trade war and Hong Kong protests continued to lead China-focused coverage in September, according to a China Books Review analysis of Google News data.
CNBC remained the most prolific publisher of stories about the country and this month led with the most number of stories in the top three positions of Google News results.
The stories that were featured for the most number of days included a look at how Hong Kong’s relationship with the mainland has evolved; reporting on how China justifies its oppressive tactics in Xinjiang to other Chinese; and two stories on China’s economy, one refracted through the lens of US politics.
Introduced last month, news trends takes a quantitative approach to understanding the stories and publications that are driving coverage of China. The data is based on the stories that appear during daily queries on Google News for the term “China.”
Twitter, at its best, offers immediate, direct, and transparent conversation on the most important issues of the day. But it can also be a driver of polarization and misinformation. To its credit, global China-watchers maintain one of the Twitter communities that most consistently realizes the platform’s positive potential.
But who are the most influential China-focused tweeters? CBR is introducing an index to find out, weighting equally public and elite influence. The former is measured by the number of followers an account has and the latter by an account’s betweenness centrality, a measure used in network analysis that quantifies how connected an individual is to other prominent accounts. Three rankings were produced for individual accounts predominantly tweeting in English or Chinese and institutional accounts in any language.
The trade war took another of its many turns this week as the United States and China agreed to resume talks in October, sending markets higher. The news is presumably a fillip for Trump-leaning states, which have been disproportionately and purposefully targeted by China’s retaliatory tariffs. That is, if they’re paying attention. A new analysis for China Books Review finds that the states that most strongly supported Donald Trump in the 2016 election are the least likely to search Google for information about the trade war.
Hong Kong was the most frequent topic of articles aggregated by Google News related to China in August, according to a quantitative news analysis by China Books Review. The analysis, which will be published monthly, uses daily Google News results for stories related to China to identify key trends.
Google News is an important aggregator and, for many publishers, it and the Google search engine account for the plurality of their web traffic. Thus, the stories that Google News elevates plays an important role in shaping popular understanding of China. In August, the data set included 1,575 unique articles from some 200 publications. Article titles mentioning Hong Kong constituted 10% of those aggregated, closely followed by the trade war.
Review of The Transpacific Experiment: How China and California Collaborate and Compete for Our Future, by Matt Sheehan. Counterpoint, 2019.
“To see where the world’s two most powerful countries are meeting, cooperating, and competing today, we need to get outside of Washington, D.C., and Beijing.” Look instead to California. From tech to Hollywood, education to foreign investment, real estate and politics, California is the hub of reciprocal influences that affect and are affected by a rising China more than any other state.
Matt Sheehan, a self-described “journalist, analyst, consultant, and general hanger-on,” captures this “fluid ecosystem of students, entrepreneurs, investors, immigrants, and ideas” in the Transpacific Experiment. Along the way, Sheehan introduces readers to a Beijing tech start-up founded by Chinese returnees from Silicon Valley and rides along with Chinese looking to buy California real estate.
The social media app TikTok has been downloaded more than 80 million times in the United States, as users entertain each other with an endless stream of short videos recommended by artificial intelligence. Its success makes it the most popular social media app in America produced by a Chinese company. A new survey for China Books Review finds that few Americans are aware of the app’s ownership, but if they were to learn the app was Chinese, many would be less likely to use it.
Only 24% of respondents correctly answered that the app’s owners were based in China, worse than had the respondents answered at random. 33% of respondents said they would be somewhat or significantly less likely to use the app if they knew the app was made by a Chinese company, compared to 21% if they knew it was by an American company, just within the margin of error. When asked how the country of origin would affect how they thought about the privacy of their information on the app, users were also more likely to be concerned if they knew the app was made by a Chinese company than an American one.
Review of Out of the Gobi by Weijian Shan. Wiley, 2019.
Weijian Shan is one of China’s most accomplished financiers. But like many of his generation who have led China’s renaissance of the past 40 years, his path was far from assured. His formal education was halted after elementary school, when Shan became one of the millions of young people exiled to the countryside as part of the Cultural Revolution. In his remarkable new memoir, Shan relives those years of constant hunger and crushing labor, and the historic twists that would transform his life while China reformed.
Review of Leadership and the Rise of Great Powers by Yan Xuetong. Princeton, 2019.
Howard French, the acclaimed China journalist, has spoken of a Chinese “instinct” by which any problem requires a Chinese answer even if other solutions are already in existence. In Leadership and the Rise of Great Powers, Yan Xuetong, a professor of international affairs at Tsinghua University, has tasked himself with the responsibility of articulating the Chinese answer to the biggest problem in international affairs: navigating the shift in global power prompted by the country’s rise. As a rare book-length articulation of leading Chinese thinking on international affairs in English, the book merits readership beyond what its academic prose would otherwise invite.
Review of China
and the Islamic World by Robert Bianchi. Oxford,
As China builds out its globe-spanning network of infrastructure, another commonality binds together the Southeast and Central Asian, Middle East and African nations in which it is operating: China’s key partner in each region is predominantly Muslim. This is the framing with which Robert Bianchi, a political scientist and lawyer, approaches his book on China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Centered on profiles of six nations – Pakistan, Turkey, Indonesia, Iran, Nigeria, and Egypt – Bianchi details the complicated political situations (often with sectarian or ethnic dimensions) China is simultaneously entering. Contrary to the narrative of a Chinese hegemon corrupting local societies, Bianchi finds that civil societies have often been successful in spurring their leaders and China to make substantive changes. Moreover, he underscores that the leaders of these nations have regional ambitions of their own, with plans “to influence China at least as much as China influences them.”
Review of Railroads and the Transformation of China by Elisabeth Köll. Harvard, 2019.
China’s soon to be 30,000-kilometer high speed rail network
is rightly a point of pride for the country; indeed, the name of its newest
line of passenger train, fuxing,
speaks to Xi Jinping’s call for national “rejuvenation.” In a new book, Purdue
history professor Elisabeth Köll examines the earliest history of