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As China’s economic and technological power has expanded in the last two decades its digital imprint is increasingly visible across the globe. Although such social media networks as Facebook, Twitter (X) and YouTube are banned in the Chinese mainland, Chinese foreign policy mandarins are deploying these platforms to promote their government’s geopolitical and economic agenda aiming at friends and adversaries, as well as among the large Chinese diaspora. 

This software for digital diplomacy is underpinned by a robust global communication hardware, part of the ‘Digital Silk Road’ projects, creating new information and communication networks for Chinese public diplomacy and digital commerce. Major Chinese companies such as Huawei, ZTE, China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom have invested in the construction and maintenance of undersea cables, especially focusing on the global South. Such developments could potentially undermine the concept of a free an open internet. 

While China has rigorously restricted the entry of such global digital corporations as Alphabet, Meta and Amazon within its cyberspace, its own companies are now accused of harvesting and trading in data from across the world through apps such as TikTok. Given the nature of the Chinese state, this raises questions about media freedom, as well as privacy, security and surveillance among democracies.
This international symposium, with scholars from different parts of the world, including countries in the Commonwealth and Europe as well as from China, will focus on the implications of such developments on media and communication freedom. Among the themes covered are China’s growing presence in South and southeast Asia, its use of social media to provide an alternative framework for contemporary global conflicts and its efforts to influence European political elites – with studies from Denmark, Germany and Italy - as well as the Chinese diaspora in Europe. 

Speakers include:

  • Professor Kingsley Abbott (Director, Institute for Commonwealth Studies)
  • Professor Daya Thussu (Professor of International Communication, Hong Kong Baptist University and Senior Research Fellow at Institute of Commonwealth Studies)
  • Dr Kiran Hassan (Coordinator, Freedom of Expression and Digital Rights Institute of Commonwealth Studies)
  • Dr Yu-chin Tseng (Department of Chinese Studies, University of Tübingen, Germany)
  • Dr Mette Thunø (Department of Global Studies, Arts/Aarhus University, Denmark)
  • Dr Emilie Tran Sautede  (Metropolitan University of Hong Kong)
  • Vincent Mo (PhD Candidate, Central European University, Vienna)
  • Jiawei Tang (Master’s student, Central European University, Vienna)
  • Professor Antonella Ceccagno (Department of Languages, Literature and Modern Culture, University of Bologna, Italy)
  • Carola Ludovica Giannotti Mura (PhD Candidate, University of Milano Bicocca, Italy)

All welcome- This event is free to attend, but booking is required

This event will be followed by a wine reception.