My research interests focus on two aspects: (1) The political information’s effects on the public attitude and political behavior in an authoritarian context; (2) Media censorship of the regime and citizens.

Click this link to my research statement.


My dissertation studies how domestic protest messages change audiences’ incentives to participate in policy-oriented protests.

Click this link to the introduction of my dissertation. Chapters are available upon request.



Effects of Political Information

How Propaganda Moderates the Influence of Opinion Leaders on Social Media in China

International Journal of Communication,

(Coauthored with He Huang and Fangfei Wang)

Social media provide a free space for opinion leaders (OPLs) to influence public opinion in contemporary China, where OPLs need to compete with the powerful propaganda machine. So how much influence can OPLs exert on the public under the shadow of authoritarianism? A survey experiment of 1,326 Internet users in Beijing found that OPLs guide respondents’ policy opinions and encourage information sharing when the OPLs are not perceived to be a part of the propaganda campaign. However, when audiences believe that OPLs are the agents of propaganda, such effects disappear. The results reveal that the OPLs’ effects are conditioned by the authoritarian institutional context in which the public discussion takes place. We conclude that such effects have ambiguous consequences in cultivating critical citizens.

Link to Full-Text

Appendix: Opleader_Appendix

The Road to Cynicism: The Political Consequences of Online Satire Exposure in China

Political Studies

(Coauthored with Dongshu Liu)

This paper examines two competing theories explaining the effects of political satire on citizens in an authoritarian context. The “activism” proposition argues that political satire works as a form of resistance to erode people’s support for the regime and encourages collective action. The “cynicism” proposition argues that while satire discourages regime support, it also discourages political participation. Our online survey experiment on young Chinese Internet users provides evidence supporting the cynicism proposition. Satire consumption
reduces audiences’ political trust, deflates their political efficacy and discourages them from participating in politics, as it reduces the perceived severity of political problems and implies that audience participation is useless. We conclude that the dissemination of political satire may stabilize the authoritarian regime temporarily but induces it to become erosive in the long run.

Published Version: Click Here

Accepted Version:  Road_to_cynicism

Appendix: Online_Appendix_Road_to_Cynicism


Media Censorship in Autocracies

Click this link to the introduction of my projects of media censorship.