This presentation aims to unfold the controversies surrounding American figure skater Nathan Chen (陈巍) on China’s major social media platform Sina Weibo, during the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Game. Chen won the golden medal for figure skating men's singles. But after the championship, major US news media, including the New York Times, CNN, Fox News and Bloomberg News reported the athletes was cold shouldered by Chinese social media users, despite he is of Chinese descent. The US media claimed the attitude was political, and were results of the on-going power struggle between the US and China, and increasingly dominate nationalism ideology in China. While this research will argue that such a claim was only partly accurate. In fact, communications surrounding Chen, reflected both politically and culturally contentions in China’s online public spaces. By presenting data collected through content analysis and network analysis, this paper will demonstrate that although online nationalism was a source contributed to the unfriendly attitudes towards Chen in online communications; another key reasons was conflicts in fan culture. While online nationalists attacked Chen because he had criticised China’s human right issues; some fans of figure skating disliked him since they were unconvinced of championship, and Chen’s unfavourable attitudes towards China offered them legitimate weapons to escalate the attacks.
Qingning Wang, Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, China
About the Presenter(s)
Qingning Wang is an assistant professor at Department of Media and Communication, Xi’an-Jiaotong Liverpool University. Her research focuses on online political communication in China, and media agenda in international relationships.
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