In a meeting of the governing council of the All-China Journalists Association last Friday (ACJA), Li Changchun (李长春) — the politburo standing committee member in charge of ideology, and China’s media control czar — conveyed the “spirit” (or significance) of China’s recent pronouncements on culture as they apply to the news media.
Li Changchun’s speech can be read as important in the sense that it reiterates the Party’s policy on press control and press development. Essentially, it 1) establishes the Party’s CONTROL over the media, emphasizing the duty of media to the Party and the need to “tightly embrace the main line and main theme”; 2. restates commercial development of the media as a priority, including raising the “closeness, attractiveness and infectiveness (亲和力、吸引力、感染力) of news and propaganda; and emphasizes the (relatively) new priority of strengthening China’s voice (as a function of the Party’s will) outside China, in order to create “an objective and amicable international public opinion environment conducive to our own interests.”
Li Changchun’s speech signals again that despite all of the language this month about cultural innovation, advancement and refulgence, the Party’s fundamental attitudes and policies toward culture — and toward news media in particular — have not changed.
The media must “guide public opinion” domestically, and to the extent possible also internationally, while they continue to operate as profit-making enterprises creating products attractive to the masses, thereby contributing to overall GDP growth.
A partial translation of the excerpting of Li’s speech by official state media follows:

Li Changchun stressed that the sixth plenum of the 17th Central Committee of the CCP that just closed was an extremely important meeting taking place in the midst of a critical period in the comprehensive building of a moderately wealthy society and a key phase in the reform and development of culture. Study, propagation and implementation of the spirit of the meeting must be the foremost task of the journalistic front (新闻战线) at present, using deep and sound propaganda to unify the ideas of the Party, the nation and various peoples over the spirit of the meeting, cohering their intelligence and strength around implementing the [policy] programs of the meeting.”
Li Changchun pointed out in his speech that ever since the 17th Party Congress [in 2007] the Central Committee with Comrade Hu Jintao as General Secretary has given a high degree of priority to news and propaganda work, placing the raising of public opinion channeling capacity in an especially conspicuous position of importance, making specific demands regarding news and propaganda work under the new circumstances [of modern communications], pointing a clear path forward, and promoting the achievement of positive evolution in many areas of news and propaganda work, opening up a new situation. According to the demands of the Central Committee, the journalistic front have steadily deepened “Three Studies and Education” activities (三项学习教育), adhered to the [“Three Closenesses”] of closeness to reality, life and the masses, widely undertaken the movement of “moving at the grass-roots, transitioning work styles and reforming writing styles” (走基层、转作风、改文风), giving greater priority to doing propaganda on major topics properly, to the propagation of model personalities, doing a proper job of news reports on sudden-breaking incidents, strengthening channeling [of public opinion] over major hot topics in society, strengthening and improving supervision by public opinion (舆论监督), leveraging the important role of emerging media, strengthening the building of international communication capacity (国际传播能力), strengthening the building of [media] capacity, and the political and ideological character of our masses of news workers has been raised noticeably, showing an enterprising spirit and bringing forth a great number of model news workers loved by the people, who have distinguished themselves in achieving the tasks set to them by the Party and the people. Experience has shown that our ranks of news workers are ranks of the highest character, showing political acumen, shrewdness, strict discipline and uprightness of manner. . .
Li Changchun stressed that news media are an important battle front in the building of culture, news and propaganda are important channels for the propagation of culture, having an important position and serving an important role in the development of culture. The journalistic front must have a high sense of political responsibility and historical mission, deeply studying, propagating and implementing the spirit of the sixth plenum of the 17th Central Committee, in order to promote the great advancement and flourishing of socialist culture, providing strong ideological and public opinion support for opening up fresh progress in socialism with Chinese characteristics. [The journalistic front] must rapidly raise up a wave of study, propagation and implementation of the spirit of the sixth plenum of the 17th Central Committee, guiding and boosting up the cadres and masses in working and struggling for the building of a strong nation of socialist culture; [they] must energetically promote the socialist core value system, constantly strengthening the common moral and ideological foundation of united struggle by the whole Party, the whole and its various peoples; [they] must tightly embrace the main line and main theme, working to create and promote scientific development, and a public opinion environment [conducive to] accelerating the transition of economic development methods; [they] must conduct energetic propaganda on new developments and new results in cultural system reforms, further stirring up the zeal, initiative and creativity of the entire society in promoting cultural reform; [they] must persist in putting the people as the base (以人为本), serving the people, cleaving close to actuality, life and the masses [the so-called “Three Closenesses”], steadily raising the closeness, attractiveness and infectiveness (亲和力、吸引力、感染力) of news and propaganda; [they] must further raise the level and capacity of overseas (对外) transmission [of China’s messages], working to build an objective and amicable international public opinion environment conducive to our own interests.

David Bandurski

CMP Director

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