The first article coming out of the Center for Asian Studies teach-in about the Coronavirus has been published. Authored by Xiaoling Chen, a PhD student in Geography, this article traces the relationship between social media infomed the Chinese public's response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, the approach of the Chinese government remains under the spotlight, obscuring the complex landscape of responses to the outbreak within the country. Drawing upon the author’s social media experiences as well as textual analysis of a wide range of sources, this paper explores how the Chinese public responded to the outbreak in complex and nuanced ways through social media. The findings challenge conventional views of Chinese social media as simply sites of self-censorship and surveillance. On the contrary, during the COVID-19 outbreak, social media became spaces of active public engagement, in which Chinese citizens expressed care and solidarity, engaged in claim-making and resistance, and negotiated with authorities. This paper situates this public engagement within a broader context of China’s health-care reforms, calling attention to persistent structural and political issues, as well as the precarious positionalities of health-care workers within the health system.