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An analysis of cultural dissemination and national image construction in Chinese influencer Li Ziqi's vlogs and its impact on international viewer perceptions on YouTube

Whyke, T. W., Chen, Z. T. ORCID: 0000-0003-2450-277X & Lopez-Mugica, J. (2022). An analysis of cultural dissemination and national image construction in Chinese influencer Li Ziqi's vlogs and its impact on international viewer perceptions on YouTube. Journal of Chinese Sociology, 9(1), article number 14. doi: 10.1186/s40711-022-00173-2


International social exchanges have always been important to China’s cultural soft power and image construction overseas. This study focuses on an internationally renowned mega influencer Li Ziqi and her vlogs on YouTube. These orchestrated vlogs tell stories of rural Chinese life and construct a desirable traditional Chinese rural culture for netizens at home and abroad. Informed by framing and cultivation theory, this study examines how user-generated content on national images can affect social media users’ perceptions of reality. Content analysis is used to analyze the visual portrayals of Chinese rural culture, including its customs and values, aesthetics, and cultural and scenic places in Li’s vlogs. Discourse analysis is further used to examine user comments and demonstrate her vlog content’s impact on user perceptions of Chinese rural culture. This study sheds light on how a complex and hybrid national image with ‘Chineseness,’ and a personal image with self-Orientalized and performed ‘soft but independent’ Chinese rural female image, is constructed by a social media influencer Li Ziqi with affective associations. At a conceptual and practical level, the findings of this study contribute to the ongoing scholarly discussions on how China engages with the globalized world through cultural diplomacy from the bottom-up, while existing research primarily takes a top-down approach.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Publisher Keywords: Li Ziqi; Influencer; Self-orientalism; Cultural dissemination; National image construction; Cultural diplomacy; Cultural soft power
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Media, Culture & Creative Industries > Media & Communications
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