Propaganda in China

Research Paper (postgraduate), 2014

19 Pages, Grade: 1.4


PROPAGANDA ( [Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten] ): NOT A DIRTY WORD IN CHINESE

Nick Birch 2014


Mass Communication is a primary contributor to the construction and maintenance of culture. The precise relation of culture to mass communication and its function in our lives has long been debated (Baran, 2010).

Because of the power mass communication has in shaping culture, it presents us with both opportunities and responsibilities. Media industries must operate ethically or risk negatively influencing the culture in which they exist. Consumers likewise have the responsibility to critically examine media messages (Baran, 2010).

Both technology and money shape the mass communication process. Innovations in technology bring about new forms of media, or make older forms more accessible. As profit-making entities, the media must respond to the wishes of both advertisers and audience. Ultimately, though, the consumers choose which forms of media they support and how they react to the messages that face them. Technological and economic factors such as convergence and globalization will influence the evolution of mass communication (Baran, 2010).

[N]ewspapers are downsizing, consolidating to survive, or closing all together; radio is struggling to stay alive in the digital age; and magazine circulation is decreasing and becoming increasingly more focused on microaudiences. The information function of the news has been criticized and called “infotainment,” and rather than bringing people together, the media has been cited as causing polarization and a decline in civility.

(Charles et al. 2009)


illustration not visible in this excerpt

The unveiling of the Chinese new leadership dominated newspapers across China in 2012 and provoked lively discussion online, despite stringent censorship (BBC, 2012a).

For the second time in 60 years of Communist Party rule (since 1949’s Communist Revolution), the power transition process has been peaceful; the China Daily remarking in an editorial that ‘[t]he ostensible lack of drama throughout the week-long session may disappoint sensation seekers’ (BBC, 2012b). ‘Hu Jintao bucked tradition, relinquishing his spot as the head of the Central Military Commission, leaving Xi Jinping in charge of both the party and China's military’ (BBC, 2012c). That was not the only tradition being bucked, as Mr Xi announced that his era would be different, breaking with "formalism" and "bureaucracy" to deliver a "better life" for the Chinese people (Moore, 2012a).

‘Appearing entirely at ease in front of hundreds of television cameras, a relaxed Mr Xi was a stark contrast to his predecessor, Hu Jintao, whose final addresses as president were stiff, interminable, and packed with repetitive Soviet-style jargon’ (Moore, 2012a).


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‘Our Party faces many severe challenges, and there are also many pressing problems within the Party that need to be resolved, particularly corruption, being divorced from the people, and going through the formalism and bureaucracy caused by some Party officials’ he said (Moore, 2012a). Li Weidong, former editor of China Reform magazine, said that Mr Xi looked ‘confident, self-composed and the logic of his speech [was] clear. His wording [was] unpretentious’ (Moore, 2012a). Moore (2012a) also noted that ‘Mr Xi's speech was confident and eloquent, without any slogans or the customary hat tips to the leadership and wisdom of Chairman Mao, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin or Mr Hu’.

Mr Xi’s speech was received well throughout global media. Hong Kong broadcaster NowTVsaid that ‘Xi Jinping's new role as military chief also signified Hu Jintao's complete withdrawal. [However, it said that] analysts believe this will not diminish Hu Jintao's influence, and that by handing over power, he has set a good precedent’ (BBC, 2012a). The Global Timesdescribed it as "worthy of congratulations". In what appeared to be a nod to the Bo Xilai scandal, it added that "some unexpected events happened before the congress, but because of this, China has shown the world its ability to deal with emergencies and consolidate unity’ (BBC, 2012a). The official Communist Party mouthpiece,People's Daily, in a commentary piece published after the unveiling, said the congress provided ‘a fine blueprint for happiness and strong leadership... [t]he Chinese Communist Party has once again completed its process of handing over from old to new’ (BBC, 2012a).

Beijing News stressed that by ‘stepping down from the Central Committee, the elder Communist Party members had shown a sharp sense of integrity’ (BBC, 2012a).

According to mass communication theory, media outlets can serve asa gatekeeper, which means they can affect or control the information that is transmitted to their audiences. This function has been analysed and discussed by mass communication scholars for decades (A Primer on Communication Studies, 2012).

It is important to note here that Brady (2006, pp.58-78) stipulates that although the Communist Party of China uses propaganda to sway public and international opinion in favour of its policies, the word is more of a euphemism - its literal translation more closely resembling “to propagate information” or simply “publicity” (陈力丹, 2008, p.286). Propaganda is also ‘considered central to the operation of the Chinese government’ (Mitta, 2003, pp.73-77).

On the internet, ‘thousands of people have left comments appealing for better measures to fight corruption on official websites launched for the congress by the three major party mouthpieces – Xinhua news agency, People’s Daily and China Central Television (CCTV). Economic growth has also slowed in recent months and the wealth gap is an issue of great concern, as is China’s ageing population’ (BBC, 2012d).

Although the Communist Party regularly takes advantage of its ability to manipulate the CCTV news agenda, there are also signs of growing emphasis on journalistic professionalism. In late 2011, Hu Zhanfan, the editor of the Guangming Daily, was appointed to head the network. The official he replaced, Jiao Li, was a party functionary without a professional background in journalism, who was abruptly ousted amid accusations of corruption and complaints about his penchant for heavy-handed propaganda. However, the supervisory bodies in charge of CCTV are still deeply entrenched in traditional party culture. Liu Qibao was appointed as head of the Party Propaganda/Publicity Department in November 2012. Qibao, almost a decade younger than Li Changchun, is an economist by training.

(Nelson, 2013, p.12)

Brady (2008) writes that propaganda and thought work have become the "life blood" of the Party-State since the post-1989 period, and one of the key means for guaranteeing the CCP's continued legitimacy and hold on power.


Overall, the mass media serves four gatekeeping functions: relaying, limiting, expanding, and reinterpreting (Bittner, 1996, p.11).

Mamta Badkar (2012) found this chart from a report by John Dotson at theU.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commissionthat shows the hierarchy in the communist party as seen on the left, and the seven departments under the Secretariat:

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This is relayed on when the Wall Street Journal provided a more pleasing info-graphic to help people understand the basics (Riddell, 2012):

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Excerpt out of 19 pages


Propaganda in China
Central Queensland University
Applied Communication Arts
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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1559 KB
Grade has been converted from Australian (35/40) to German (1.4)
Nick Birch, Applied Communication, Communications, Arts, Propaganda, Chinese Government, Creative Enterprise
Quote paper
Nick Birch (Author), 2014, Propaganda in China, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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