The Political and Diplomatic Implications of Social Media: the Cases of China and South Africa
AbstractThe development of social media, in the form of ‘web-based tools and services that allow users to [comment], create, share, rate and search content and infor-mation’ (Bohler-Muller and Van der Merwe; 2011:2), is changing how we en-gage with the world. The platform is connecting users in new ways and levelling the playing-field by stimulating conversation versus one-way communication and reaching across the toughest and most remote landscapes. During the last decade, developing countries began embracing social media as incomes rose; technology became more affordable and alternative social networks were crafted to suit regional differences2.China and South Africa are two such developing countries which are embracing communication technologies. They are both experiencing a rise in internet users (though at varying rates) and are increasingly penetrating foreign markets with their media ventures. In fact South Africa and China engage in the each other’s media markets. The South African media company, Naspers, owns the largest stake in China’s Tencent Holdings; while Chinese telecommunications compa-nies, like Huawei, are supplying products to the South African market.
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