This article discusses how the Chinese government engages in online political debates and whether it adjusts its policies to respond to public concerns raised in such debates. This research explores government actions and discourses by using debates between Chinese net-users and the government around the building of an oil refinery in Kunming as a case study. It finds that the government used traditional party newspapers and social media as platforms to express its opinions and to interact with net-users regarding the oil refinery. The reports published in party media and government social media posts acknowledged the government’s awareness of the public’s concerns, demonstrated their reaction to the concerns and reinforced the government’s agenda. However, although the government engaged with the debate, it did not change its decisions about the oil refinery to respond to the public concerns raised online.
- government engagement
- online political communication
- social media