Partisanship has become the dominant ideological incentive to political polarization. Likewise, the analytical association between polarization and the party system in electoral democracies has focused, in most of the existing literature, on political polarization, leaving aside authoritarian or semi-authoritarian contexts where a fair multi-party election is absent or dysfunctional. By collecting and analyzing online posts about international terrorism from Sina Weibo in China, between January 2011 and December 2016, this study proves the existence of opinion polarization on terrorism in China's digital media sphere. By categorizing the findings into two camps, ‘global war on terror discourse’ and ‘antiimperialist narrative’, the study elucidates these polarized attitudes in terms of their acceptance, denial and decomposition of the global discourse of fears about terrorism. Drawing on our case study, the study then proposes an alternative explanation for the motivation/driver of mass polarization in digitally networked communication in China, identified as the effect of globalization and localization.

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