In this talk, Prof Lifen Zhang currently based in the School of Journalism, Fudan University and Chief Advisor for China Business News, will consider the question ‘How is Social Media Changing China? This respected journalist, author and broadcaster will explain why, in his view, social media, the national obsession and blessing, presents a dilemma to the government and the state of journalism in China.
How Is Social Media Changing China?
China is emerging, unexpectedly, as a giant of social media in the world, rewriting human communication history. The Internet has reconfigured the way its people connect to each other and also how the nation is governed. The entire Chinese rural population has skipped fix-line telephony and operates only via mobile.
China is now sitting at the global top table in terms of social media innovation and usage. For instance Wechat (Wei Xin in Chinese), a social media platform developed by Tencent, one of the world’s leading internet conglomerates, is arguably China’s uniquely rare technological contribution to the world in modern history. In major cities people now increasingly go about their daily life without cash, all through Wechat, for shopping, taxi, banking, restaurants, utility bills, tickets donations, “buying” all sorts of services.
However, the booming of social media in China also calls for a reality-check with contradictions about its regulatory regime and information control. In many ways the internet in China resembles a gigantic intranet and is far from free. Social media, the national obsession and blessing, presents a dilemma to the government and the state of journalism in China.
Prof Zhang while currently a professor in the School of Journalism at Fudan University, also serves as the Chief Advisor for China Business News (CBN), the largest business media group in China. Previously associate editor of the Financial Times, he served, from 2004-2015, as the founding editor of FTChinese.com, the FT’s award-winning Chinese language business online publication.
Before joining the FT, Lifen worked for the BBC for 10 years during which time he held various roles: assistant producer for BBC TV; producer; senior producer; senior trainer in journalism & production; and news & current affairs editor at the BBC World Service.
He obtained his BA degree in journalism from Fudan University in Shanghai following which he was a research-teaching assistant. As the recipient of the prestigious SBFSS scholarship (Sino-British Friendship Scholarship Scheme), he received his PhD in Communications (media sociology) from the University of Leicester. He has been a visiting professor at the National Chengchi University in Taipei, the Baptist University in Hong Kong, the University of Hong Kong as well as Shanghai’s Fudan University.
He has received various international media awards including Asia’s SOPA journalism award, the BBC Onassis Bursary, as well as the State Street Award for Outstanding Contributions in Institutional Journalism. He is also a media leader at the World Economic Forum.
Date of talk: Thursday 6 April 2017
Time of talk: 6pm-7pm followed by Q&A and networking reception
Venue: Seminar Room LG.09, lower ground floor, David Hume Tower
Booking is required – please book via this link.