Study: Dem Reps Downplay Chinese Threat To US While Republicans Focus On Security

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Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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Republican lawmakers are more likely to tweet about China, and tend to tweet more about U.S. security interests related to China, than their Democratic counterparts, according to a new study by the China Data Lab at the University of California, San Diego.

After examining over 800,000 tweets posted between Jan. 1, 2019 and Dec. 31, 2020, researchers found that, when tweeting about China, members of Congress were most likely to focus on Hong Kong and Tiananmen Square, COVID-19 origins and cybersecurity and tech. The researchers also broke down the tweets along partisan lines, and found that Republicans and Democrats had clashing priorities at times.

The data showed that both Republicans and Democrats tended to emphasize human rights, though Democrats focused more on Chinese domestic issues while Republicans highlighted threats to U.S. security. Republicans tweeted at a higher proportion about COVID-19 origins, cybersecurity/tech, IP and research, and Taiwan and the Confucius Institute. Democrats devoted a greater share of their tweets to Hong Kong and Tiananmen Square, Uyghurs and anti-Asian hate.

Republicans tweet less than Democrats overall, but more Republicans than Democrats tweet about China, and they do it more often. In 2020, 219 Republicans sent at least one tweet about China compared to just 200 Democrats, and Republicans tweeted about China four times as often as Democrats as a proportion of each Congressional member’s tweets. (RELATED: China To Set Up Secret Spy Base On America’s Doorstep: REPORT)

China was the most frequently mentioned foreign country in Congressional tweets, roughly doubling the second- and third-place countries, Mexico and Russia. Iran and India rounded out the top five.

The “Congress Tweets” project studied 831,331 tweets in all, 10,398 of which were related to China.