Fang, Ph.D.

Communication researcher

In the Media

I appear frequently in international media outlets, discussing issues related to media, journalism, digital technology, as well as Chinese politics and society.

Wilson Center: Hurting the Feelings of the Chinese People

February 16, 2017, Kecheng Fang0 Comments

A piece published in the blog of Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program quoted me:
By one count, the Chinese blogger Fang Kecheng found that, since its inception, the People’s Daily has used the phrase in reference to 19 different countries and organizations, ranging from the United States to the Nobel Committee and to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Of all the countries and organizations that had “hurt the feelings of the Chinese people,” Fang found that it was Japan that stood out as the worst offender. Beginning in September 1985, when an article criticized a visit by Japanese Cabinet Ministers to the Yasukuni Shrine, the People’s Daily had singled out Japan for “hurting the Chinese people’s feelings” on 47 separate occasions.
Full text here. [...] Read more

Business Insider: Monday’s presidential debate was censored in China — but that didn’t stop people from watching

September 28, 2016, Kecheng Fang0 Comments

I was quoted in Business Insider's story on how Chinese watched the presidential debate.
The Chinese government has one major reason for censoring the debate live-streams, according to Kecheng Fang, a University of Pennsylvania doctoral student researching Chinese politics and the founder of, an independent website on Chinese politics.

"Letting the public know how democracy works has its risks. People might start asking, 'Why don't we have our own debates?' or, 'Why can't we choose our leader from the top two candidates?'" Fang told Business Insider.

Despite the Chinese government's worries, most Chinese people are uninterested in the US election, don't understand how it works, or have zero knowledge that a presidential debate is occurring, according to Fang. A niche population, composed primarily of elites, follow the election and the debate intently.
Full text here. [...] Read more

South China Morning Post: There’s no debate – censorship limits live access in China to Clinton-Trump face-off

September 27, 2016, Kecheng Fang0 Comments

South China Morning Post on what I did before the presidential debate:
But in the US, Kecheng Fang, founder of, an independent website publishing academic studies on China for the Chinese public, said it would offer a live show on its WeChat account in the lead-up to the debate to give viewers “some background knowledge” of the process.

Fang, a doctoral candidate at Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, said the debate would be dominated by domestic issues and most Chinese people would struggle to “get the point”.

“Even if the candidates mentioned policies about China or Asia, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, they would debate it from the perspective of an American, and as a Chinese, it would be complicated,” he said.

“I want to explain more about the nature of presidential debates, its rules and procedures, and to explain [...] Read more

Politico: Why China’s Not Afraid of Donald J. Trump

May 10, 2016, Kecheng Fang0 Comments

In a story published in Politico Magazine, I explained the surprisingly positive attitudes toward Trump among Chinese.
“Trump is very, very popular among Chinese Internet users,” says Kecheng Fang, a former reporter in China who now researches Chinese media at the University of Pennsylvania.


In fact, Trump’s apparently pliable views on human rights (he has expressed interest in bringing back torture, for one) and disregard for traditional bounds of discussion in American politics have helped him win fans from the more nationalistic corners of Chinese social media. In China, a strain of Islamophobia has emerged in response to both terror attacks abroad and outrage at Chinese affirmative-action policies that favor Muslim students in the scoring of the gaokao, the standardized college entrance exam. “Many Chinese share Trump’s anti-Muslim and anti-political-correctness [...] Read more

Politico: Why China Wants a Jeb-vs.-Hillary Race

August 5, 2015, Kecheng Fang0 Comments

The Politico Magazine published an article on Chinese official media's coverage of the ongoing U.S. presidential election campaigns. I shared some viewpoints on this issue:

“The Chinese media, especially the Party media, has been using American elections as a way to discredit democracy,” says Kecheng Fang, a former reporter for the Southern Weekly in Guangzhou who now researches Chinese media at the University of Pennsylvania. “I think much of Chinese media has been referring to this election as Clinton 2.0 versus Bush 3.0, so it’s a very trendy topic.”

Among those likely eager to make this anti-democratic narrative stick is China’s President Xi Jinping, who would no doubt like to divert attention from the troubling fact that he, himself, is the product of a political dynasty. His father, Xi Zhongxun, was a vice premier and is regarded as one of the founders of the CCP; [...] Read more

Foreign Policy: Behind the Fall of China’s Greatest Newspaper

January 29, 2015, Kecheng Fang2 Comments

This January marks the second anniversary of the Southern Weekly incident, Maria Repnikova and I write on the aftermath of the incident for Foreign Policy. The following version is slightly different from FP's published edition.

In early January 2013, hundreds of protesters gathered in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou in support of one of the country’s most influential liberal newspapers, Nanfang Zhoumo, or Southern Weekly, in a rare standoff against local propaganda officials. The Weekly, established in 1984 and claiming a present-day circulation of over 1.7 million, had long been regarded as a model of watchdog journalism. But under the thumb of then-new, conservative chief provincial censor, Tuo Zhen, the paper’s scheduled annual 2013 New Year editorial advocating constitutional reform had been secretly scrapped and replaced with a different version praising the Communist [...] Read more

An Internet For All and By All

November 21, 2013, Kecheng Fang0 Comments

When I was invited to participate in the 2nd annual Stockholm Internet Forum (SIF) which was held in Sweden in May 2013, I was expecting debates on government regulation and criticisms of China's "Great Firewall" since the forum highlighted "freedom and openness on the Internet" in its mission statement. After the two-day sessions, however, I realized that my mind was too "China-centric" and that Internet freedom means much more than against censorship.

One major topic of the SIF, which consists of about 400 participants from more than 90 countries, is the low Internet penetration and high cost in many low-income countries. As a Chinese netizen who pays $15 per month for the Internet, I was quite astonished to learn that it costs a doctor’s half-month salary to spend 30 minutes in a cyber Cafe in Cuba and only 3% of Cubans have access to internet. A participant from Mozambique said [...] Read more

From “Angrily Denounce” to “Be Gravely Hurt”

August 6, 2013, Kecheng Fang0 Comments


As China continues to expand its role in the international community, its diplomatese stays mechanical. Many people notice that “hurt the feelings of the Chinese people” becomes a phrase the Chinese government chooses for nearly every statement when dealing with international disagreement. For example, after French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s meeting with the Dalai Lama on December 6th, 2008, Deputy Foreign Minister He Yafei said, “The meeting grossly interfered in China’s internal affairs, severely undermined China’s core interests, gravely hurt the feelings of the Chinese people and damaged the political basis of China-France and China-EU relations.”[1]

This kind of expression has deeply influenced the thought and expression of ordinary Chinese people. They are using it frequently, no matter genuine [...] Read more