The Rise of Pro-regime Intellectuals and Their Mass Persuasion Strategies on China’s Internet

Jie WU, Shen YANG*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


Mass persuasion is crucial to politics, and sophisticated leaders utilize political persuasion to influence citizens’ attitudes and emotions, alter their behaviors, and solicit regime support. In recent decades, a variety of actors have engaged in mass persuasion on China’s internet. Using online ethnography and archival research, this study examines a newly emerged but less studied group—pro-regime intellectuals and their online mass persuasion strategies. First, we find that pro-regime intellectuals act as outspoken critics of the West to promote China-centric theories by utilizing their academic knowledge and reasoning. Meanwhile, given their close government connections, they stand as intermediaries between the state and society to channel public discontent and articulate public policy. Furthermore, they proactively adapt to cyberculture by interacting and cultivating close bonds with netizens, as well as by collaborating with platforms to attract public attention. By deciphering this set of mass persuasion strategies, this article contributes to our understanding of how pro-regime intellectuals’ digital mass persuasion helps maintain the state’s discursive hegemony, which facilitates regime resilience in the era of social media.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Contermporary China
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the four anonymous reviewers for their very helpful comments. We also would like to thank the excellent research assistance from Chen Ruida, Li Zichang, and Tianlan (the first two research assistants were funded by Student Research Enhancement Scheme from the School of Graduate Studies, Lingnan University).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • intellectuals
  • mass persuasion
  • online celebrity
  • internet
  • China
  • Intellectuals


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