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Title: Crisis communication in China : strategies taken by the Chinese Government and online public opinion
Author: Cui, Wei
ISNI:       0000 0004 9358 6943
Awarding Body: University of Leicester
Current Institution: University of Leicester
Date of Award: 2020
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Crisis communication strategies play an important role in determining whether an organisation is able to survive a crisis affecting the public. The 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, outbreak in China is considered the beginning of modern crisis management and communication in the country. Ten years later, when a similar public health crisis occurred in 2013 with the H7N9 outbreak, the Chinese government pursued a variety of strategies to avoid a potential pandemic. Much of the previous research on crisis communication in China adopted Coombs' Situational Crisis Communication Theory. However, as a theory proposed and developed in the West, its application in a non-Western culture requires testing. In addition, cultural influences and the role of digital technology have been discussed in some existing literature, but few studies have attempted to integrate these elements into crisis communication theories. In order to fill these two gaps, this research analyses the Chinese government's crisis communication strategies during the H7N9 crisis, examining not only the government's management of the crisis but also the public's reaction to the official communication process. It also explores the cultural context and the development of digital media as critical actors underlying the strategies adopted. The analysis contributes to development of a comprehensive theory that incorporates these two elements, which shows and identifies related crisis communication strategies emerged from cultural traditions and the development of digital media. This research analyses five media sources representing different perspectives – government newspaper reports, press conferences and Weibo posts representing the government perspective and metropolitan newspaper reports and public Weibo posts representing public perspective. It aims to identify the strategies taken by the Chinese government during the H7N9 crisis and to examine the role of cultural factors and digital technology. This research uses the case study method and includes content analysis and critical discourse analysis. Content analysis is used to describe patterns and trends in strategies used during the H7N9 crisis, as represented in the government media sources. Critical discourse analysis is used for in-depth analysis of press conference transcripts to identify cultural factors relevant to the crisis communication strategies. Content analysis of metro newspapers reports and public Weibo posts, as well as critical discourse analysis of public Weibo postings are conducted to examine how the public responded to the strategies taken by the Chinese government.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: China ; Crisis communication strategies ; Weibo ; SARS ; H7N9 crisis ; communication process