@TheRealChineseAmbassador . . .
Chinese Ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, along with China’s Washington, DC embassy, officially joined Twitter on July 8. The first tweets from the ambassador and the embassy both stressed the move as a new channel to frequent and productive engagement with Americans. The ambassador’s account, @AmbCuiTianKai, now has more than 6,000 followers. His first introductory tweet, however, was bombarded by netizens’ angry criticisms of the Chinese Communist Party and its human rights record.
A new form of diplomacy . . .
Media diplomacy is nothing new to the Chinese government and its officials. As a part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s push toward integrating “new media” into traditional diplomacy since 2014, Chinese state media have been active and prolific on Western social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook, which are both blocked domestically in China. Cui, notably, is the first Chinese ambassador to have a personalized Twitter account that is both endorsed and encouraged by Beijing. The first official Twitter account of a top Chinese diplomat signals a more proactive and vocal approach by China to countering international criticism and influencing foreign opinion.
Twitter as a growing tool for foreign diplomacy and policy . . .
Chinese diplomats have been slow to adopt social media to articulate their positions, compared to other global leaders, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and especially U.S. President Donald Trump. This heightened engagement suggests Twitter may become a new tool for foreign policy, particularly after a U.S. court ruled against Trump blocking users on Twitter in defence of social media as a platform for government officials to engage in “wide-open and robust” debate.
- China News Service Website: 耿爽谈外交部开通社交媒体账号：增强沟通 促进了解 (Foreign Affairs spokesman comments on the opening of social media accounts: Enhance communication and promote understanding)
- South China Morning Post: This time it’s authentic: Chinese ambassador to US Cui Tiankai joins Twitter months after fake account was suspended
- The Washington Post: Banned at home, Twitter becomes a new tool for Chinese diplomats abroad