Most of the stories on our list this week received little or no attention outside of Chinese-language media. But there are, nevertheless, some important developments worthy of continued observation. At the top of this list should be the rollout by People’s Daily Online, the digital platform operated by the People’s Daily, of a so-called “third-party content review platform” (第三方内容审核平台). This week, 14 major digital platforms signed up with People’s Daily Online to formalize involvement in this platform. It’s unclear yet what exactly this platform will mean, and how it will operate — but the obvious goal is to further draw private technology companies into the orbit of Party-state media, ensuring that their content is not disruptive.

Also this week, Liu Yadong (刘亚东), editor-in-chief of Science and Technology Daily (科技日报), issued a warning on over-exuberance in China’s media about the country’s advantages in the science and technology fields, and other media discussed his remarks as a necessary corrective coming from “inside the system” as trade tensions with the United States and other countries come to the fore.

This Week in China’s Media

June 23 — June 29

Science and Technology Daily Editor-in-Chief: “Four Great Inventions” Hoodwink Leaders and the Public
➢ Minister of Radio and Television Outlines Party Dominance During Visit With Tech CEO Jack Ma
➢ Central Propaganda Department and Other Agencies Tackle “Yin-Yang Contracts” (阴阳合同) And Other Loopholes in the Entertainment Industry
➢ People’s Daily Online Launches “Third-Person Content Review Platform”

[1]  Science and Technology Daily Editor-in-Chief: “Four Great Inventions” Hoodwink Leaders and the Public

On June 21, at a salon on technology communication held at the China Hall of Science and Technology (中国科技会堂), and called “Where Are Our Bottlenecks?”, the editor-in-chief of Science and Technology Daily (科技日报), Liu Yadong (刘亚东), gave a keynote speech in which he criticized the widespread pushing — essentially propaganda — of the so-called “New Four Great Inventions” (新四大发明). These are: 1) the high-speed rail, 2) Alipay (支付宝), bike-sharing (共享单车) and online shopping (网购). Promotion of the idea of these “Four Great Inventions,” said Liu, misled both leaders and the general public, and Liu’s remarks were regarded by many in the media as “a shock coming from inside the system” (“体制内震撼发声”). 

In Liu Yadong’s view, China still lags far behind the United States and other developed countries in terms of science and technology, and this has long been a consensus view in China as well. But Liu said that constant drum-beating within China about the “Four Great Inventions,” and remarks about “fully surpassing [the US]” (全面赶超) and “China now being first in the world in economic strength, science and technology strength and comprehensive national strength” (中国现在的经济实力、科技实力、综合国力都分别超越美国,成为世界第一) had now become a constant feature of media reporting.

Responding to Liu’s speech, the Global Times newspaper said it was a representative voice in what should be a period of self-reflection on China’s real capabilities. The reflection, it said, was demanded by the ongoing “trade war” (贸易战) with the United States and penalties facing China’s ZTE Corp.

Key Chinese Reports:

Science and Technology Daily WeChat public account (科技日报): 纯干货|核心技术受制于人怎么破?杜祥琬倪光南都来支招了
Global Times (环球时报): 社评:科技日报总编强调中美巨大差距刍议
TMT Media WeChat public account (钛媒体): 体制内震撼发声:“新四大发明”忽悠了领导忽悠了公众忽悠了自己

 

A lead editorial in the Global Times responds to Liu Yadong’s criticism of over-exuberance on China’s science and technology strengths.

[2] Minister of Radio and Television Outlines Party Dominance During Visit With Tech CEO Jack Ma

Nie Chenxi’s official portrait on the “News of the Communist Party of China” website.

On June 22, Nie Chenxi (聂辰席), the head of the China’s State Administration of Radio and Television (国家广播电视总局), met with Alibaba CEO Jack Ma (马云). During his visit with Ma, a tech billionaire who in many ways symbolizes China’s push for innovation, Nie emphasized the need to “deeply study Xi Jinping Thought of Socialism With Chinese Characteristics for the New Era and the spirit of the Party’s 19th National Congress,” the former phrase being the president’s “banner term” (旗帜语), the phrase meant to sum up his policies and legacy. Nie also spoke of the need to emphasize the so-called “Four Consciousnesses” (四个意识) — essentially, the need to have political awareness of the big picture as it impacts the Party’s position — and “Four Confidences” (四个自信), or confidence the country’s chosen political path (meaning CCP leadership), its guiding theories (meaning those of the CCP leadership), its political system (meaning one-party dominance), and in China’s unique culture.

Other phrases that played prominently in Nie’s mostly boilerplate speech were the “transmission of positive energy” (传播正能量), meaning more focus on positives in news and entertainment, and “preserving the country’s ideological and cultural security” (维护国家意识形态和文化安全).

Earlier in June, Minister Nie met with China Mobile CEO Shang Bing (尚冰), also emphasizing a long string of Party imperatives such as the need to “promote the main theme” (弘扬主旋律), “transmit positive energy” and “deeply study” the thought of Xi Jinping.

Key Chinese Reports:

Inside Telecoms WeChat public account (广电业内): 聂辰席会见马云,总局总台领导接连会见BAT巨头,透露了什么讯号?
The Paper (澎湃新闻网): 聂辰席会见腾讯公司董事会主席兼首席执行官马化腾

[3] Central Propaganda Department and Other Agencies Tackle “Yin-Yang Contracts” (阴阳合同) And Other Loopholes in the Entertainment Industry

On June 27, the Central Propaganda Department, the Culture and Tourism Bureau, the State Administration of Taxation, the State Administration of Radio and Television, the State Film Bureau and others jointly issued a “Notice” (通知) demanding limits on exorbitant pay (天价片酬) in the film and television industries, and action to tackle such problems as “yin-yang contracts” (阴阳合同), a practice by which a relatively low-paying contract for actors is reported to the tax authorities while a second more lucrative contract is handled on the side.

The “Notice” emphasized that compensation standards would be set for the television and film industries, making clear the maximum compensation levels for actors and for program guests.

Key Chinese Reports:

People’s Daily (人民日报): 中宣部等部门印发通知 治理影视行业天价片酬“阴阳合同”偷逃税等问题

[4] People’s Daily Online Launches “Third-Person Content Review Platform”

On June 25, People’s Daily Online, the digital portal operated by the CCP’s official People’s Daily newspaper, hosted a forum on “management of internet content risks” (互联网内容风险管理). At the forum, 14 major digital content platforms signed agreements with People’s Daily Online for participation in a “third-party content review platform” (第三方内容审核平台). The media included Jinri Toutiao (今日头条), Pear Video (梨视频), Migu (咪咕文化) and Kuaishou (快手). According to media reports, discussion at the forum centered around “how to strengthen internet content management.”

In one report, Quantum Cloud (量子云), another of the initial 14 companies to sign on to the People’s Daily Online platform, responded to the news of the new agreement: “Taking on the responsibility expected of us by family users, Quantum Cloud follows People’s Daily Online and other mainstream [Party] media as the benchmark, upholding the banner of content with mainstream [Party] values, steadily expanding the strength of our content review (内容审核力度), actively transmitting positive energy and socialist core values.”

It is not yet clear exactly how the “third-party content review platform” will operate.

Key Chinese Reports:

Caijing Online (财经网): 量子云签约入驻人民网“第三方内容审核平台”
China.com: 量子云首批入驻人民网“第三方内容审核平台”