The Line 21 Project is an online resource that focuses on contemporary state propaganda – both internal and external – in the People’s Republic of China. The project manages a collection of contemporary propaganda images on its website at www.line21project.org, tweets regularly via its twitter presence @line21project and provides analysis and commentary via this blog.
The public relations machinery of the Chinese state has emerged as a formidable force in the production of messages in what some have referred to as a post-communist era. This is due largely to an ongoing evolution in the ideology of the ruling Communist Party (CCP) accompanied by an adaptation of Party signs and symbols to the new advertising industry and media of the reform era. Contrary to scholarly arguments that describe the demise of propaganda and its receding relevance in reform-era China, the project asserts that the state has found a new and commanding voice within China’s increasingly congested airwaves and cyberspace.
On street level, propaganda is located for maximum market impact, and is therefore found at major commuter touchpoints – at bus stops and train stations, along sidewalks and main streets, beside orbital and arterial roads and at major pedestrian traffic areas. Rather than cramming the commuter headspace with dangerous levels of untamed consumerism, the commercialization of transport hubs and arteries during China’s recent economic rise has provided new platforms for the dissemination of sanitary officially-sponsored messaging. The project’s name, Line 21 – a fictitious subway line – reflects this seemingly contradictory contemporary reality.
Commenced in 2012, the Line 21 Project is coordinated by Nicholas Dynon, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies at Macquarie University, Sydney.