• Andrew Collins

US Presidential Elections and Chinese Social Media

Updated: Jun 19, 2019

Recent comment during US Presidential Candidate debate triggered the latest explosion of Internet memes across the social media landscape.

The sentence (referring to women entering workforce) was mentioned by candidate Romney on Tuesday 16th during the 2nd official presidential candidate debate and has since then been the subject of an unstoppable wave of parodies.

Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, Tumblr accounts and, believe it or not, even Weibo conversations picked up the joke and made it into one of the most trending topics of the past few days.

Here a quick video of Romney’s statement:


And here a sample of the memes that we’re created shortly after:

Images courtesy of bindersfullofwomen.tumblr.com


Images courtesy of bindersfullofwomen.tumblr.com



Someone even created an online game out of it. You can try it out here.

But what is it with politics and social media?

Since the 2008 elections, it has become clear how influential the role of social media has become in politics and specifically in the presidential elections. Often defined as ‘the social President‘, Barack Obama ran an unprecedented campaign on social media, which offered him outstanding results. Numbers like 13 million emails, 4 million digital donors, and 2 million members on his own social network My.BarackObama.com.

And China?

While the infamous “binders” comment sparred (so far) only a few hundred posts on SINA Weibo, regarding mostly the fact it was soon to become a trending topic, chatter regarding the two candidates has been filling the social network for months.

Opinions from both sides can be found:

from democratic supporters, such as user @胖娃晶晶: “Romney is hopeless, Obama is a sure win”…

….to republican sympathizers as user @五道口技校生 “I hope Romney wins. I am sick of Obama’s phony promise and sick ideology. Obama’s life philosophy is only suited for the poor.”

(See broader comments analysis here.)

There is certainly no lack of material to ignite online conversation on this topic. China was mentioned 3 times in the first presidential debate (October 6th) and 21 times in the second debate (October 16th).

And as this blogger pointed out, one of the moments that made the biggest impression during the first debate was when Romney said government projects were not worth borrowing money from China, a statement to which netizens reacted with both amusement – @江上升明月 “No more borrowing? So what? You guys never planned to pay us back anyway – and concern – @几点黄花满地秋_钱钱It seems no matter who is elected, China will surely be faced with a tougher America.

So should comments on SINA Weibo interest you?

Whether you follow politics or not, having an open window into what Chinese netizens think is an outstanding opportunity.

Although SINA Weibo users’ opinions shouldn’t be considered as representative of the whole Chinese population, it certainly offers a glimpse of what sort of conversations are going on in the country.

With 300+ million users and counting Weibo is only getting bigger and bigger.

Keep an eye open, you’d be surprised by what you might find.

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