Signaling the birth of a new media policy buzzword, Politburo member Li Changchun, Hu Jintao’s top propaganda official, told a gathering of propaganda ministers over the weekend that China had to “strongly promote the building of harmonious culture” in order to create the proper ideological environment for the building of a Socialist Harmonious Society (社会主义和谐社会).
In 2002 it was Li Changchun who ushered in another of Hu’s media policy buzzwords, the “Three Closenesses”, which outlined a vision for savier, more approachable media products in China and a toning down of official rhetoric.
Introducing the term “harmonious culture”, which invokes Hu Jintao’s broader social policy of creating a “harmonious society”, is likely an attempt by top leadership to integrate and streamline its ideological positions on a range of domestic and foreign policies (“harmonious world”). The term encompasses another of Hu Jintao’s recent creations in the cultural sphere, the theory of “socialist honor and disgrace” (or “eight honors and eight disgraces”), a campaign of moral rectification setting out to raise the overall behavior of people at all levels of Chinese society. Some have said the “honor and disgrace” theory was created to mollify Leftist elements within the Party who have spoken out against the excesses brought on by China’s commercialization drive.
The rise of the “building harmonious culture” terminology can be seen clearly in the rapid increase in use of the term since the recent National CPC Congress:
[SOURCE: WiseNews Database, including 120 mainland Chinese newspapers]
The term, which does not appear until September 1, 2005, in an article in Henan Daily, Henan province’s official party mouthpiece, appears in just 8 articles in Q2 2006, but rises to 57 articles in Q3. In the current (incomplete) quarter, from October 1 to December 5, there are 1,032 articles in mainland newspapers using the term “building harmonious culture”.
The idea of a “harmonious culture” might be seen as the latest attempt to combine the media commercialization strain of the earlier “Three Closenesses” policy with the social harmony theme of the “harmonious society” and “honor and disgrace”.
Li Changchun made it clear in his speech that media control would remain the centerpiece of party media policy. He emphasized that propaganda leaders must “work hard to raise [the party’s] ability to guide public opinion, creating a postitive and healthy opinion environment”.
[Posted by David Bandurski, December 5, 2006, 1:20pm]