Highlights from our round-up of top-five Chinese media stories from the past week include messaging from the central Party media on the need for the country to steady itself and be ready for “wind and rain” given domestic and international pressures on the Chinese economy, and a surprising hat-tip to former President Jiang Zemin in a provincial-level Party paper.

Also of interest, a brief invitation from the overseas edition of the People’s Daily for Google to return to China is pulled from Facebook and Twitter.

This Week in China’s Media
August 4, 2018, to August 10, 2018

➢ Central Media Issue “Declaration” on the Domestic Economy 
➢  People’s Daily (overseas edition) Welcomes Google Back to China on Facebook and Twitter, Then Deletes Post
➢ Shaanxi Daily Looks Back on Jiang Zemin Inspection Visits in 40th Anniversary of Reform Coverage
➢ New Tax Procedures Introduced to Combat “Unreasonable” Pay Levels in Entertainment
➢ Puyang Broadcast TV in Henan Demand Wages

[1] Central Media Issue “Declaration” on the Domestic Economy 

On August 7, the official Xinhua News Agency ran an article called “Creating a Good Life Come Rain or Shine” (风雨无阻创造美好生活) that amounted to a “declaration” (宣言) of purpose on China’s future and development in times of adversity. “It is normal for there to be wind and rain,” the article said, using a two-character phrase frequently used in Chinese to denote hardship and adversity. “But regardless of what kind of wind and rain, there is no way it can impede the march of the Chinese people toward good lives.”

The article, which was carried the next day on the front page of the People’s Daily and many other newspapers, was the fourth time in recent months that such “declarations” were released by state media. While references to the United States” or “Sino-US [relations]” did not appear in the article, it can be read as a response to ongoing trade tensions. At one point, the article said, directing its ire clearly at the Trump administration: “There are certain people who don’t wish to see the lion stir or the dragon rise into the air, who don’t want to see 1.3 billion people living good lives, and so they seek unilateralism, protectionism, trade bullying (贸易霸凌主义). This is something that cannot be avoided, and must be challenged and met.”

At the recent session of the Party’s Politburo on July 31, the phrase “change in the midst of steadiness” (稳中有变) was raised. China News Service, the country’s second official newswire, reported that “change” related to a number of news problems and challenges internally in China, and to clear changes in the “external environment” (外部环境). In its own assessment of the macroeconomic situation in the past three years, the Guangming Daily, a paper published by the Central Propaganda Department, said that China had made progress in “preventing and resolving major risks” (防范化解重大风险), but that the trade war with the United States and other external environmental challenges had “clearly expanded uncertainty.”

Key Chinese Sources:
Xinhua News Agency (新华社): 宣言:风雨无阻创造美好生活
Xinhua News Agency (新华社): 宣言:改革开放天地宽
People’s Daily (人民日报): 宣言文章为何刷屏?穿越“风雨”说信心
China News Service (中国新闻网): 政治局定调中国经济:“稳中有变”如何应对?
Guangming Daily (光明日报): 经济运行稳中有变 改革开放勇往直前

[2] People’s Daily (overseas edition) Welcomes Google Back to China on Facebook and Twitter, Then Deletes Post

On August 6, the overseas edition of the CCP’s official People’s Daily turned to Facebook and Twitter, both services blocked in China, to say amidst speculation that Google planned a return to China that the company was welcome, but that the precondition was that it abide by China’s laws and regulations. The posts have already been deleted. On August 8, Hong Kong’s Wen Wei Po newspaper posted images of the posts to its official Weibo account (@香港文汇网). These too have now been deleted.

According to a report from Hong Kong’s Ming Pao on August 9, some university students inside China reported that they could access Google Scholar from campus, but the service was unavailable if they were not on the campus internet network.

Key Chinese and Other Sources:
Sohu.com: 人民日报发文欢迎谷歌回归 但前提是“遵守中国法律”
Free Weibo (自由微博): 香港文匯網:【人民日报发推欢迎Google回归后又删除】
Newsweek: Google Welcome in China but Must Comply With Censorship: State Media
Business InsiderChinese state media tentatively welcomed Google back to China, then deleted all trace of its invite
Ming Pao News (明报新闻网): Google學術搜尋重返內地校園

[3] Shaanxi Daily Looks Back on Jiang Zemin Inspection Visits in 40th Anniversary of Reform Coverage

On August 10, Shaanxi Daily, the official newspaper of the Shaanxi Provincial Party Committee, published a four-page series called, “Comrade Jiang Zemin Inspects Shaanxi” (江泽民同志视察陕西) as part of an ongoing series dealing with the 40th anniversary of Reform and Opening. By August 12, the text of the online electronic version of the print page was already unavailable, although the image of the page itself could still be viewed. In 2018, news mentioning “Jiang Zemin” has been extremely rare in China, in part a reflection of the dominance of Xi Jinping — and this is the first time Jiang has appeared this year in a provincial-level Party publication.

The “Comrade Jiang Zemin Inspects Shaanxi” article looked back on five visits Jiang made to Shaanxi province between 1989 and 2002, and emphasized how Comrade Jiang Zemin cared for the development of Shaanxi and had defined the direction for the province in terms of reform and “socialist modernization” (社会主义现代化).

Key Chinese Sources:
Shaanxi Daily (陕西日报): 江泽民同志视察陕西

[4] New Tax Procedures Introduced to Combat “Unreasonable” Pay Levels in Entertainment

News reports this week in China said that since August 1 this year a new taxation system had been applied to the film industry, with taxes on incomes rising suddenly from 6.7 percent previously to 42 percent, and that authorities were demanding that tax payments be made in a lump sum every six months. On August 11, iQiyi, Youku, and Tencent Video joined with major production companies Daylight Entertainment (正午阳光), Huace Film and TV (华策影视), Ciwen Media (慈文传媒), Youhug (耀客传媒) and New Classics Media (新丽传媒) to issue a document called “Joint Declaration on Inhibiting Unreasonable Compensation and Preventing Negative Trends in the Industry” (关于抑制不合理片酬,抵制行业不正风气的联合声明). They pledged in the document to jointly resist “sky-high” payments for entertainers and tax evasion, and to be open about contracts. The statement specified clear standards for paying of star entertainers, with the maximum not to exceed one million RMB for individual episodes, and 50 million RMB for films.

According to Xinhua News Agency, the Central Propaganda Department and the State Administration of Taxation jointly issued a “Notice” in June demanding that the problem of excessive pay be dealt with and a system of “sunshine contracts” (阴阳合同) be put in effect in order to ensure the healthy development of the industry.

Key Chinese Sources:
36KR.com (36氪): 抵制天价片酬!9家公司联合声明:单个演员片酬不超5000万
National Business Daily (每日经济新闻): 天价片酬,再见!每经影视对话联合声明方:明星片酬税费由演员承担
Central News Agency Taiwan (中央通讯社): 傳中國官方出手 明星稅率從6%飆至42%
WeChat Public Account “Black Bamboo Zhang” (微信公众号”紫竹张先生”): 税务总局出手了,明星税率从6%改为42%
China News Service (中国新闻网): 明星天价片酬再见!5000万,不能再多了
Xinhua News Service (新华社): 中宣部等部门联合印发《通知》 治理影视行业天价片酬“阴阳合同”偷逃税等问题

[5] Puyang Broadcast TV in Henan Demand Wages

This week, images made the rounds in WeChat private message groups and on social media in China of employees from Puyang Broadcast TV in Henan province gathering at the local Petition Office (信访局) to demand unpaid wages.

In June this year, internet users posted images on Weibo and WeChat reporting that journalists at Qiqihar Broadcast TV in Heilongjiang province were demanding payment of back wages, and that the station was already three months behind in payment.

Key Chinese Sources:
Baidu Tieba “Puyang Bar” (百度贴吧”濮阳吧”): 最近网上濮阳电视台讨薪的事是真的么?有人知道吗???
WeChat Public Account “Fanren Fanyu” (微信公众号”凡人钒语”): 不要以为戴顶“党媒”的帽子,就可以搞特权!
WeChat Public Account “Riji Bu Fanhuang” (微信公众号”日记不泛黄”): 又见广电职工拉横幅讨薪,媒体界还有铁饭碗吗?