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Mesut Özil. Merkel. Made in Germany – Germany images in China’s social media

By Karsten Luc

China's social media can be quite influential: they can make a car brand a household name throughout the country. During a dating show a young man described to a female contestant his ideas of a romantic date. He concluded with the question "Would you like to take a seat on my bicycle rack and set off joyfully with me?" Subsequently she replied: "I would rather sit crying on the backseat of a BMW." With the idiom "I'd rather cry in a BMW than laugh on a bicycle" the netizens provoked a fierce debate about materialism and the decline in values. An interesting aspect to this is that a German car brand was the first thing the participant thought of as representative for a nice prosperous life.

This web special takes a closer look at Germany’s images in China's social media. Which topics get the most clicks, views and comments? Which Germans are represented in the social media and who has the most fans? What do China's netizens admire about Germany and what appears strange to them?

Subject of this web special is a (quantitative and qualitative) analysis of Germany-relevant content on Sina Weibo, WeChat and Youku in the period between May 2014 and May 2015.

Weibo (微博) is a Twitter like micro blog service with currently 198 million active users per month.

WeChat (微信) has been exclusively developed for smartphones. It is similar to the well-known western application WhatsApp and with its multifunctional nature it is linked to many web services in China. At the                                             moment WeChat has 549 million active users per month.   

The free video streaming service Youku (优酷) is regarded as the Chinese equivalent to YouTube.

Many landscape photos, holiday photos, product information and so called "Foodies" with country hashtags

Number of hashtag mentions of Germany and other countries on Weibo

The nation ranking compiled based on analysed Weibo data shows Germany ranking fourth position (measured against the frequency of #Hashtag#-mentions in Weibo posts). Japan leads the way with the US and France following respectively. The most frequent mentioned topics in relation to Germany on China's social media are football, Made in Germany and education. 

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