Country/area: China

Organisation: CGTN

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 20 May 2020

Credit: Yun Fan, Yan Mei, Jianlu Bi, Qing Luo, Hao Shen, Fang Yuan, Fan Fang, Qing Wen, Xinyi, Jingyan, Yifei, Boyi, Lingli, Kainan, Zhaojun Wan, Yuchen Shen, Shouen Li, Zhe Jiao, Yuhan Song, Jian Chang, Xiao Wu

Project description:

This project named “An Enduring Fascination – Foreigners in China (1949-2020)” is a news work of big data interactive presentation.

With a unique civilization stretching back over 5,000 years, China has always held a special fascination for foreigners. In the modern era, this interest in China has grown steadily, especially since 1949. We believed that it would be of great value to tease out how this closeness developed, and this project presents the relationship from a brand-new perspective.

Impact reached:

After the project was launched, it attracted the attention of overseas Chinese research groups, media communication groups and overseas education groups, among others.

On the first day of its release on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, the project was viewed more than 190,000 times. As of June 6, 2020, it has been read more than 7.68 million times worldwide and has 47,000 interactions. It was particularly popular in North America and Europe.

Techniques/technologies used:

Python was the core programming language supporting us for data digging, collecting and filtering. The tools of Flourish and d3 were mainly used to conduct data visualization support. What do these mean?

We aimed to sort out the data of management service policy, which are related to foreigners in China from 1949 to 2020. After more than half a year’s work, we successfully captured and collected 2,050,177 original reports from the People’s Daily database and big data archives from the National Bureau of Statistics, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Culture and Tourism and ten other ministries in total.

After data analysis, we decided to create a visual interactive presentation to show the social changes of China’s policies on international immigration management and service; the development of China’s opening to the world; and especially to summarize China’s progress in international immigration management and participation in global governance, as well as problems that need to be solved. In order to make sure that the content perfectly matched the presentation, we built an interdisciplinary team that integrated communication, data reporting, digital art and technical practice.

After unremitting efforts, the team successfully completed multiple complex processes including data collection, computational analysis, content identification, big data analysis, visual design, content writing and editing, online testing and policy verification.

What was the hardest part of this project?

Stabilizing the fluency of invoking external database information and best expressing the data visually were the two most difficult aspects of the project.

To best express the data, we picked the wave-point element.

We use a lot of interactive elements, which is especially important for a big data project. When the data dimension is high and the data volume is large, people will generally sacrifice data presentation. However, we made a great effort with the project’s interactive design. It helped us highlight the content that we wanted to show, but at the same time the integrity of the data was retained to its maximum extent, giving readers the pleasure of exploration.

What can others learn from this project?

The project has mined useful data pertaining variously to categories of sojourners such as Businessmen, Investors Journalists, Scholars, Spouses, Students, Traders, Tourists. It has tracked the development of legal and institutional frameworks that facilitate easier progression for sojourners in these areas and mapped progressive opening-up on a geographical basis. All this is useful.

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