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Communication as a Public Health Instrument in the Midst of the Covid-19 Pandemic: Lessons from China


Presentation author(s)

Yanwen Huang ’21, Hunan, China

Majors: Political Science; Business Economics

Abstract

This presentation is based on my senior thesis, which examines the communication strategy of China’s government during the Covid-19 health crisis. My project grew out of my own personal experience. I learned about the outbreak at a very early stage, before the Chinese media officially reported on it, and communicated it to my family and friends in China via social media. They did not take me seriously, as they had not yet read reports of the outbreak in the Chinese media. My mom only bought masks reluctantly upon my insistence. This made me realize the important role that the media play in the midst of a pandemic as tools of education and public health policy. My thesis tries to explain the government’s communication strategy during health crises by looking at three different case studies (the Henan blood scandal in the 1990s, the spread of SARS in 2003, and the ongoing Covid-19 epidemic.) It concludes that one of the government’s top priorities was to maintain social stability in the midst of each health crisis by engaging in information management, especially through social media, and appeals to nationalism. Data came from media reports in official Chinese media as well as interviews.

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Pablo Toral

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