Illiberal Media in a Liberal Democracy: Examining Identity in Australia’s Mandarin Language News

Michael Jensen, Titus Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The regime of censorship in the People's Republic of China (PRC) extends beyond its borders through the extraterritorial application of its media regulations to popular social media platforms like WeChat. This research investigates the effects of the PRC's extraterritorial control of online content on the identity narratives and norms communicated by comparing Australia's Special Broadcast Service (SBS) Mandarin language news and the news targeting Australian audiences published on popular WeChat Official Accounts (OAs). We find significant differences in the news content between these two platforms: SBS provides more political content and a focus on political and cultural integration, while WeChat pages tend to avoid political topics that are not otherwise press releases from the PRC and they encourage strong cultural ties with Mainland China. Finally, SBS tends to both inform and cultivate democratic political identities and identification with the Australian political system, whereas WeChat tends to differentiate the Chinese diaspora from the wider Australian community. We situate these findings within a wider understanding of PRC's national security strategies and doctrine. Whether by requirement or practice, not only the WeChat OAs in Australia implement PRC's communication controls, but the content on these pages also challenges the liberal democratic practices and norms and supports foreign influence and espionage in Australia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2150005
Pages (from-to)1-35
Number of pages35
JournalIssues and Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


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