One of the biggest news stories in China today has to be record rainfall in Beijing, thunderstorms such as the capital city hasn’t seen in a century. But how do you play your front page choices when the big story propaganda leaders are pushing is the upcoming 90th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party?
Here’s a quick look at a few interesting front pages today. The first is from Beijing Youth Daily, published by the Beijing chapter of the Chinese Communist Youth League.
The bright red photo at center accompanies text announcing with great fanfare upcoming celebrations, to begin June 26, for the Party’s 90th anniversary. Below that is an article about a visit to a 90th anniversary commemorative exhibit of newspaper history by Liu Yunshan (刘云山), chief of the Central Propaganda Department.
News choices at one of Beijing’s leading commercial newspapers, The Beijing News, are markedly different. The tribute to the Party’s 90th anniversary is there, but it is boxed off on the left-hand side.
The top story in the tribute box is about recent remarks by a deputy propaganda minister saying that “red songs” are not ideologically linked to either the political left or the political right. The article is a response to concerns in recent weeks that leftist ideologies are in ascendence — particularly with the anniversary just around the corner.
But the front page at The Beijing News is clearly dominated by the news of Beijing’s unprecedented rainstorms. Readers are told that the storms have “crippled transportation in the city” and resulted in the closure of many subway lines. The arresting image is of rainwater coursing like a waterfall down the steps of a subway entrance.
Flooding in the capital was also the biggest front page story in Guangzhou’s Southern Metropolis Daily. A prominent white headline against a black background reads: “Rains submerge Beijing.”
The text at the bottom of the main photo, the same image as that in The Beijing News, reads: “This is a subway station in Beijing . . . “
What else is different about the front page at Southern Metropolis Daily?
There’s no mention at all of the story topping the agenda in the eyes of Party propaganda leaders. Now what could that possibly be?