Replication data for: Why Does China Allow Freer Social Media? Protests versus Surveillance and Propaganda

Resource Type
  • Qin, Bei
  • Strömberg, David
  • Wu, Yanhui
Publication Date
  • Abstract

    In this paper, we document basic facts regarding public debates about controversial political issues on Chinese social media. Our documentation is based on a dataset of 13.2 billion blog posts published on Sina Weibo--the most prominent Chinese microblogging platform--during the 2009-2013 period. Our primary finding is that a shockingly large number of posts on highly sensitive topics were published and circulated on social media. For instance, we find millions of posts discussing protests, and these posts are informative in predicting the occurrence of specific events. We find an even larger number of posts with explicit corruption allegations, and that these posts predict future corruption charges of specific individuals. Our findings challenge a popular view that an authoritarian regime would relentlessly censor or even ban social media. Instead, the interaction of an authoritarian government with social media seems more complex.
  • Is supplement to
    DOI: 10.1257/jep.31.1.117 (Text)
  • Qin, Bei, David Strömberg, and Yanhui Wu. “Why Does China Allow Freer Social Media? Protests versus Surveillance and Propaganda.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 31, no. 1 (February 2017): 117–40.
    • ID: 10.1257/jep.31.1.117 (DOI)

Update Metadata: 2020-05-18 | Issue Number: 2 | Registration Date: 2019-10-13