Category Archives: Chinese media

Chinese Media and Disaster Response: a Work in Progress

In the wake of the tragic explosions that recently shook the Chinese coastal city of Tianjin, Beijing’s flagship publication the People’s Daily published an online commentary last week titled “China Needs to Learn from the West to Work with Media in Crisis” – the loose translation of a commentary originally published in Chinese. The piece attempts to provide an explanation for theunscheduled halting of a press conference by authorities moments after a reporter questioned why the doomed toxic chemical facility responsible for the explosions that have so far killed 135 people was located so close to homes.

China’s “press spokesperson” system, only 12 years old, the commentary tells us, is still in its infancy: spokespersons have mixed levels of competence, and the handling of press releases during emergencies “needs to be improved.” But that’s where the navel gazing ends. Using 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina as examples, the piece proceeds to explain how the handling of breaking news by Western countries “is worth learning.”

Where Western countries seem to get it right, continues the commentary, is that their media tends to report a situation initially as direr than what it actually is, with subsequent reports presenting “better than expected” outcomes. Conversely, Chinese media, it suggests, “always want to play down the disaster, with the motivation to not arouse panic, whereas in fact, with the death toll rising, the public’s fear and tension will be inevitably upgraded.”

Read on at the University of Southern California’s Center on Public Diplomacy blog site.

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Chinese press stays on message in Yunnan quake coverage

Line 21 Project coordinator, Nicholas Dynon, recently provided insights to Agence France-Presse (AFP) on the Chinese media’s coverage of the devastating earthquake that shook Yunnan province earlier this month.

The example set by the People’s Daily, commented Dynon, shows us that Chinese media coverage of the quake has followed a thematic pattern we would expect of disaster reportage out of China.

“The state-sponsored press has adhered largely to officially sanctioned themes, including the responsiveness of the central government and military, swiftness and professionalism of rescue and recovery efforts, accounts of death and destruction, stories of survival, and solidarity in grief”, he stated. “These themes reinforce the key messages that authorities have reacted appropriately and that the nation is united in its support.”

The report, carried by Yahoo!7, can be read here

Civilisation-State: Modernising the Past to Civilise the Future in Jiang Zemin’s China

This research article by Nicholas Dynon in this April’s issue of the peer-reviewed China: an International Journal analyses the largely overlooked role of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in the promotion of “socialist spiritual civilisation” in contemporising the exemplary role of the Chinese state and in informing the state’s efforts to rehabilitate China’s cultural traditions.

Drawing material from handbooks, newspaper articles and posters published between 1996 and 2002, it may be argued that the ability of the Party to reclaim the achievement of “civilisation” as an ultimate goal in Chinese history has a direct impact on its continuing pursuit to underwrite its long-term legitimacy. The article departs from the existing scholarship to locate the CPC’s civilising discourses within an historical context that predates the apotheosis of the CPC itself and links them to the sacred mission of maintaining the Chinese civilisation-state.

Available here at Project Muse

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[Creating a civilised community – propaganda poster in a residential compound in Shawo, Beijing]

Shanghai 2010 World Expo at Street Level: The Local Dimensions of a Public Diplomacy Spectacle

Internationally, the 2010 Shanghai World Expo was a major tourism and branding draw card for its host city. Domestically, the Expo constituted a major source of national pride and a key vehicle for the promotion of official messages reinforcing traditional state propaganda themes. Like the Beijing Olympics two years prior, the Shanghai World Expo was an opportunity for the state to cross-brand its messages with the fervor and prestige surrounding a world-class event.

This essay’s seven photographs explore the domestic cross-branding of the World Expo with traditional propaganda messaging as it appeared in advertising posters/billboards throughout downtown Shanghai during the Expo. Although not all constitute direct political advertising, they all nevertheless perform a definite ideological role in reinforcing key propaganda themes.

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. As these photographs suggest, this is due largely to an adaptation of Chinese Communist Party signs and symbols to the new advertising industry and media of the reform era and, importantly, to their increasingly decentralized and commercialized production. Read more at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy blog

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[Go Shanghai! – street-side poster propaganda in downtown Shanghai during the 2010 World Expo]

 

Pao Pao seeks insights from Line 21 coordinator

Pao Pao, an internet news platform supported by Greatfire.org, RNW, Hong Kong Independent Media and the China Digital Times among others, has sought insights from Nicholas Dynon about the use of the term “terrorism” in reportage on violent incidents in China. For readers of Chinese, the report is available on the Pao Pao website.

The Language of Terrorism in China: Balancing Foreign and Domestic Policy Imperatives

The latest article by Nicholas Dynon for the Jamestown Foundation’s China Brief…

In late October, central Beijing tasted terror when a flaming SUV rammed a crowd of tourists at the city’s iconic Tiananmen gate, killing the three alleged perpetrators and two bystanders. Authorities were quick to label the attack an act of jihadist terror.

The ensuing media commentary and controversy prompted questions around how terrorism is defined—and how terror incidents are framed—by Chinese authorities. Were the perpetrators of the attack radicalized Uighur Islamist insurgents or were they just normal folk marginalized and driven to extreme measures by an arbitrary and belligerent state?

Ultimately, the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP), an extremist group with purported links to al-Qaeda, praised the attack in a speech given by its leader posted online—a move that seemingly vindicated official finger pointing. While this perpetuates Beijing’s narrative of China as victim of international terrorism, it takes the focus away from a more inconvenient truth. Self-immolation, bombings and other indiscriminate attacks have abounded in China in recent years, and most have been carried out by citizens with no known terrorist, separatist or ethnic minority links. Yet as frequent as these attacks are, the use of “terrorism” to describe them in official media reportage has been noticeably absent. Read more

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[Propaganda feature in Beijing Airport’s Terminal 3, where frustrated petitioner, Ji Zhongxing, detonated a homemade bomb last July]

 

Eight police station ‘attackers’ shot dead in China’s Xinjiang

Agence France-Presse (AFP) has sought insights from Line 21 Project coordinator Nicholas Dynon following the most recent incident of reported violence in China’s Xinjiang Autonomous Region. Read a copy of the article published in the West Australian newspaper / Yahoo7 here.

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Xinjiang in China (Photo credit: \!/_PeacePlusOne)