The Role of “State Endorsers” in Extending Chinese Propaganda: Evaluating the Reach of Pro-Regime YouTubers

Marie Brockling, Haohan Lily Hu, King-wa Fu


This comparative study investigates the role of non-state actors in China’s external propaganda via YouTube and Twitter. We introduce the term “state endorsers” to characterize a group of foreign residents in China who do not have an open affiliation with the state but express views overwhelmingly in line with the official narrative. Our cross-platform analysis shows that Chinese officials promote the state endorsers on Twitter, thus creating the impression of diverse voices supporting China’s policies. When comparing the reach of state endorsers with that of Chinese state media (altogether 153,932 videos and 5.41 million comments and replies), we find evidence that state endorsers extend China’s public diplomacy to engage new audiences, amounting to a 48% increase on YouTube and 29% on Twitter. We argue in the conclusion that using the term state endorser provides better conceptual clarity and empirical operationalizability for understanding the roles of non-state actors in China’s increasingly assertive digital diplomacy.


public diplomacy, China, social media, YouTube, Twitter, non-state actors

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