Chinese President Xi
Jinping last week gathered the heads of the country’s largest media organisations — the ones controlled by the Chinese Communist Party — and told them exactly how the news was to be be reported.
From Xinhua News:
All news media run by the Party must work to speak for the Party’s will and its propositions and protect the Party’s authority and unity, Xi said.
They should enhance their awareness to align their ideology, political thinking and deeds to those of the CPC Central Committee and help fashion the Party’s theories and policies into conscious action by the general public while providing spiritual enrichment to the people, he said.
Xi went on to say that all journalists should have a Marxist education and that managing the media’s message is “crucial for the Party’s path, the implementation of Party theories and policies, the development of various Party and state causes, the unity of the Party, the country and people of all ethnic groups, as well as the future and fate of the Party and the country.”
Xinhua News was represented at the meeting, as was The People’s Daily, and China Central Television (the only licensed TV broadcaster in the country).
There are levels to this stuff
This is all worth noting because while it’s always been tough to be journalist in China, it’s getting even harder as the country’s economy slows down and President Xi Jinping feels the need to prepare for hard times to come.
“Restrictions on print media tightened during the year, as did pressure on investigative journalism and liberal media outlets,” wrote press freedom watchdog Freedom House in its 2015 report on China.
“Journalists who attempted to investigate or report on controversial issues, question CCP rule, or present a perspective that conflicted with state propaganda directives faced harassment, dismissal, and abuse.”
The higher the risk there is of party friction under duress, the more Xi Jinping tightens his grip on the country. The press has been ramping up its pro-party talk since 2013, when Xi because president. At that point, though, there was some debate in China circles as to whether or not Xi himself was completely behind it all.
Now we know he was.
Observers only expect things to get worse, as investor and author Bill Bishop wrote in a recent post in his newsletter, Sinocism:
The Party is back to the fore in a way it has not been for many years, and do not expect that to be a good thing. Foreigners toiling for Party media like CCTV America should understand that the Party views them not as journalists but as “news workers” in the service of the Ministry of Propaganda in its external propaganda efforts, efforts that Xi made clear in his comments last week should be expanded.
Xi doesn’t just say things to say them, he expects everyone to act on them too.