Can China be populist? Grassroot populist narratives in the Chinese cyberspace


The current debate on populism is mostly Euro-American centric. Less attention is paid to how the rise of populist ideas echo and reverberate in other regions of the world. This paper examines how the core concepts to populism, namely ‘the people’, ‘the elite’ and ‘the other’, is constructed and contested in China. I show how the netizens contextualise the rise of populist right in America in relation to China, and how they construct a narrative of ‘must learn lessons’ for China out of the American experience, with identifiable populist elements. I argue that although non-establishment populist leaders or parties are unlikely to emerge under the one Party rule, the grassroot political narratives in China harbour significant latent populist tendencies, and the potential for populist rupture is real.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences & Humanities > Politics, History and International Relations
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Contemporary Politics on 14/2/2020, available online at:
Uncontrolled Keywords: Chinese populism,Populism,cyber opinion,populist narratives,Sociology and Political Science,Political Science and International Relations
Publication ISSN: 1469-3631
Full Text Link:
Related URLs: https://www.tan ... 75.2020.1727398 (Publisher URL)
http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2020-05-26
Published Online Date: 2020-02-14
Accepted Date: 2020-02-01
Authors: Miao, Ying (ORCID Profile 0000-0001-9405-6387)



Version: Accepted Version

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