Document Type

Honors Project


I am grateful to my honors advisor, Professor Xin Yang, and the Chinese Department for all their patience and assistance.


This thesis discusses the enabling functions of Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, and its role as a platform to build community, form identities, and share views of alternative nationalism. Due to China’s strict censorship, it is necessary that such a space exist to allow individuals the opportunity to discuss communal concerns across China’s vast expanse. Unfortunately, this virtual sphere cannot be used by all because of the economic inequality and the essential use of technology to gain access to this sphere. During the most recent period of protests concerning the Diaoyu Islands Dispute, this gap became increasingly large; both dialogues occurred in separate spheres without much overlap. This difference can be seen through the expression of polarized types of nationalism in online and offline China. Divergent from the state-sponsored patriotism omnipresent in the mainstream media in China, alternative nationalism involves critically thinking through one’s opinions of, and participation in, an event involving domestic issues. The Diaoyu Islands Dispute allows for an interesting and informative glance into the effects social media has on various dialogues and stereotypes, particularly those circulated in certain social classes. In this thesis, I argue that Weibo promotes alternative nationalism while simultaneously furthering the information stratification within Chinese society.


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