9 June 2023
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The Chinese government has a new ally when it comes to pushing its official line on Taiwan: celebrities.

Tension over the status of the island, which is claimed by Beijing as part of its “One China” principle, have been exacerbated by a series of recent incidents, including a high-profile visit to the island by US House speaker Nancy Pelosi and comments by President Joe Biden suggesting the US would be prepared to defend Taiwan “militarily”.

It has led to an angry response from officials in Beijing, who have accused the US of violating its long-standing commitment to abide by its One China policy. But it has also seen a renewed propaganda push aimed at getting the message of unification to the Chinese and Taiwanese public.

As experts in Chinese cultural politics, we have noted how the highly contentious series of events not only reshaped the regional dynamics around Taiwan but also permeated into popular culture in China – with celebrities being utilised to circulate One China messaging to fans and social media followers.

It forms part of a wider trend that we have researched and forms the basis of a forthcoming article published in China Quarterly on the political signaling of Chinese celebrities. By our analysis, 85% of the top 218 celebrities in China reposted official government messages on their social media…

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Abdul Gh Lone