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China Seminar: How is Social Media Changing China?
Tue 11 April 2017, 14:00 – 15:30 BST
China is emerging, unexpectedly, as an insatiable consumer of social media: pushing the limits of its potential in social and civic life. Human communication history is being written on an almost monthly basis in the Peoples’ Republic. The Internet has reconfigured the way its people connect to each other and also how the nation is governed. The entire Chinese rural population has skipped fixed-line telephony and are now proudly on mobile.
China is now sitting at the world’s top table when it comes to social media innovation and usage. No example demonstrates this more than Wechat (Wei Xin in Chinese), a social media platform developed by Tencent, one of the world's leading internet conglomerates. Its impact is comprehensive and profound: in major cities people can now increasingly go about their daily life without cash, all through using Wechat, for shopping, taxis, banking, restaurants, utility bills, ticket, donations, presents and all kinds of other services.
However, the booming of social media in China also calls for a reality-check on the contradictions within its regulatory regime and information control. In many ways the Internet in China resembles a gigantic intranet: far from free and open to unfettered creativity. Social media, the national obsession heralded as a blessing by so many, presents a dilemma to the government and the future of journalism in China.
Short bio of speaker:
Dr Lifen Zhang is professor at the School of Journalism, Fudan University, Shanghai. He also serves as the Chief Advisor for the China Business News (CBN), the largest business media group in China. He was the associate editor of the Financial Times, where, he served， between 2004-2015, as the founding editor of FTChinese.com, the FT's award-winning Chinese language business online publication. Before joined the FT, Lifen worked for the BBC for 10 years, as assistant producer for BBC TV, producer, senior producer, senior trainer in journalism and production and news and current affairs editor at the BBC World Service.
Professor Zhang obtained his BA degree in journalism at Fudan University in Shanghai and stayed on as a research-teaching assistant. As the recipient of the prestigious SBFSS scholarship (Sino-British Friendship Scholarship Scheme), he received his PhD in Communications (media sociology) at University of Leicester in the UK. He has been visiting professors at the National Chengchi University in Taipei, the Baptist University in HK, University of Hong Kong in Hong Kong, and Fudan University in Shanghai. He received various international media awards including Asia's SOPA journalism award, the BBC Onnasis Bursary, the State Street Award for Outstanding Contributions in Institutional Journalism. He is also a media leader at the World Economic Forum.