CityU Conference Bridges International and Local Communication Research

An international conference held at City University of Hong Kong brought together two large academic associations and marked the first coordinated move to further internationalize communication research in the Chinese context. 

“This is the largest convention the Communication Association of China has ever organized,” said Dr. Hu Zhengrong, president of the association. “It is also the first time our convention is held outside mainland China, which marks a giant initial step toward internationalizing Chinese communication research.”

The three-day conference on Dec. 10-12, 2010, was co-organized by the mainland-based Communication Association of China and U.S.-based Chinese Communication Association under the auspices of the Department of Media and Communication at City University of Hong Kong. It drew more than 140 participants from China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, India, France, Switzerland, and the United States.

Under the theme of “global communication, local perspectives,” participants presented papers on a variety of issues in media and communication in the Chinese context, ranging from ethics of journalism and impact of the new media to shifting paradigms in communication research in the age of globalization.

“I am pleased to see so many colleagues gathered together to make a concerted effort to enhance the internationalization of communication in this region,” said, Dr. He Zhou, president of the U.S.-based Chinese Communication Association and Associate Head of the Department of Media and Communication. “The interaction between members of our association and colleagues from China has paved new ways of collaboration, presented diverse and sometimes clashing perspectives, and mapped out some new directions of research.”

One major issue that drew heated discussion was the application of Western-oriented communication theories in the Chinese context. Some scholars questioned the value of replicated research using Western theories, while others criticized the manipulation of those theories to suit the purpose of propaganda.

“The trend of twisting and manipulating Western theories for the purpose of propaganda is alarming,” said Chen Lidan, a professor of journalism from the People's University in China. “Agenda setting, for example, is a theory about the objective impact of the mass media in its original sense. However, it has been used by politicians and some scholars to justify the manipulation of public opinion.”

The training of versatile professional communicators in the digital age was another focal issue. Participants discussed various convergence or hybrid models in pedagogy and curriculum development. They visited the landmark Creative Media Building at City University, designed by world-renowned architect Danial Libeskind, and the cutting-edge digital facilities in the building for sophisticated converged education in communication and media.