During a time of global crisis and uncertainty due to Covid-19, Vogue China has appointed a 27-year-old Australian-born fashion influencer as the editor-in-chief of its monthly magazine.
This move signals a form of diplomacy being employed at a time of increasing political tension between Canberra and Beijing.
Margaret Zhang, the newly appointed editor-in chief, has 11 years experience as a consultant. Including experience behemoths the likes of AirBnb and Mulberry, CNN has identified Zhang as Asia’s most influential digital voice. With 1.2 million Instagram followers, Anna Wintour, Vogue’s global editorial director, believes Zhang can help grow the magazine’s reach in China. This comes 16 years after its launch in the country.
Challenging the Status-quo
At 27, Chinese-Australian Zhang has become the youngest editor-in-chief in Vogue’s history. Her predecessor Angelica Chung, Vogue China’s founder, departed in November of 2020.
The head of Magazine publishing giant Condé Nast, Li Li, commented on the transition.
“Margaret understands the emerging trends of a new generation of Chinese and possesses the business acumen needed to leverage our data and insights across new digital platforms. We welcome her creativity and innovation in defining new media approaches and look forward to her bringing global fashion to China while taking Chinese culture to the rest of the world.”
A New Form of Diplomacy?
We are at a time where ties between regions have started failing. The connections and networks which Zhang will bring into the role, working remotely via Sydney, may provide an important Australia-positive theme within Chinese culture.
“The fact Zhang will begin editing the magazine from Sydney – where she is currently living before moving to Beijing when the pandemic eases – adds to the potential for her editorship to serve as soft diplomacy at a time when traditional diplomatic channels are failing.”
Source: The Guardian
Tim Harcourt, an economist of international business at the University of New South Wales describes how links with Sydney will be an important projection of positive Australian culture in China. This is particularly significant at a time when ties between the countries have deteriorated.
Having started her life in the suburb of West Ryde, the newly established editor-in-chief now lives back in Sydney, Australia. She recently relocated from her New York home after six years and visits China every other month.
She will be relocating to Beijing once the pandemic stabilises.
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