- State As Salesman: International Economic Engagement and Foreign News Coverage in China.
with Chengyuan Ji (Shanghai Jiaotong University)
2022, Political Communication, 39(1): pp.122-145.
For an authoritarian regime, what is the value of providing news on other countries for domestic audience? While it is politically expedient to cover foreign countries negatively, we argue that a regime’s economic interest can motivate it to strategically vary its news coverage; specifically, favorable coverage is given to its close economic partners in order to boost popular support for continued engagement. To test this argument, we examine foreign news coverage by China’s state-run television network between 2003 and 2018. Combining textual and quantitative analyses, we find that countries with stronger economic ties with China receive significantly more favorable news coverage. Moreover, analysis of survey data shows that Chinese public opinion is responsive to such news coverage. The findings demonstrate a pragmatic use of information control by an authoritarian government. It also shows that news media can serve to promote economic openness instead of protectionism.
- The Logic of Authoritarian Political Selection: Evidence from a Conjoint Experiment in China.
2019, Political Science Research and Methods, 7(4): pp.853-870.
Political selection is important to authoritarian regime survival. Although selection outcomes are often observed, it is difficult to decipher elites' logic of decision-making due to their multidimensional preference and the opaque process. Employing a conjoint experiment conducted among over 300 government officials in China, this paper unpacks multidimensional elite preference in entry-level political selection. It finds that while elites comply with institutional norms by selecting candidates based on competence and loyalty, they also take into account personal preference by favoring those with political connections. Kinship ties to government increase a candidate's chance by over 20 percentage points, even though the candidate is not deemed more competent or loyal. These findings demonstrate that authoritarian elites do not always follow the logic of regime survival; there exists an agency problem in political selection that could undermine the effectiveness of the ruling class over time.