The Common Program of the People's Republic of China 1949-1954

In 1948, Liu Shaoqi informs representatives of the media, the CCP has nothing to fear but its detachment from the people. Among the party's links with the people, journalism is key. "You travel to all locations. The people depend on you to give voice to their demands, difficulties, experiences and even describe mistakes in our work. You turn them into news, features, and reports to Party Committees at various levels, and to the Central Committee. In this way, you make a connection between the Party and the masses."
In fact an important task of the press is gathering intelligence for the party. A part of these articles appear in the form of internal reference news specially for the high strata of the party bureaucracy. These classified publications can be divided into three major categories. The first consists of publications circulated only within the Party.
Huang (2020) observes "Because the leaders, especially Mao Zedong, frequently used the internal bulletins to lobby for their own ideas and were unwilling to read news that was unfavorable to them, the bulletins were frequently caught in power struggles and were soon dysfunctional. This dysfunctional internal bulletin system broke the central-local connection and blocked the central leadership from accessing reliable information, thus leading to the formulation of poor policies and adding to the political turbulence during the Mao years." The second consists of publications circulated within administrative organs, in such fields as military affairs,judiciary, agriculture, commerce, education, transport, and so on, as well as in government administrative bodies. The third category consists of publications circulated among Party and Youth League cadres, and other reliable groups and persons.

Four important directives from the CCP define the media policy of the PRC. The first one is issued on October 30, 1949. It states: decisions, resolutions, or circulars of an administrative nature should no longer be issued in the name of the Chinese Communist Party as sometimes practiced in the past. "The articles in the press of the party should be written with persuasive manner by summons, suggestions and advisories. In other words, the function of the party’s press is to persuade people to follow the CPC policy."

The second decision is made on November 11, 1949. It points out: " articles written by journalists must be pre-examined by leader of concerned government department or social organization, or individuals from whom the news collected. After the news article was pre-examined, it should be better to be endorsed by those concerned parties, and then the article could be handed over to editorial office of the press. ...It emphasized that the parties taken part in this process of pre-examination included those non-party leaders or well-known nonpartisans"
This decision is revoked April 19, 1950, stating: "This sort of rule, under the conditions that it was inconvenient to investigate during the war period, has avoided many criticism that did not completely conform to reality and that were inconsiderate, but continuing to adopt this sort of rule under the present conditions nevertheless does more harm than good, and is incorrect."
On July 17, 1950, the Politburo issues a new document concerning criticism. This time, the importance of criticizing and self-criticizing on the newspaper is reemphasized, "...the editorial office must take full responsibility ……the stance and opinion of criticizing must be correct, every step must follow the CPC principle, decision of Central Committee of the CPC, and guidance of the CPC committees at various levels” In other words, the party and the state therefore resumed its power of precensorship over the press.
On August 27, 1952, the party decides that only the
Xinhua News Agency (New China News Agency) is the official state-run press agency of the People's Republic of China. Founded in 1931. The agency is located in Beijing
and the Renmin Ribao (People’s Daily) can issue reports and comments on international current affairs. Local media can only report ceremonial activities of foreign official visits in local areas. The purpose of this directive is twofold. It wanted to control and unify the media reports on international issues and to "...prevent the introduction of any uncensored and decentralized contents that might contain capitalist ideology and Western life style and thus endanger domestic stability. Secondly, it wanted to control the influence of international reports on overseas readers, which is crucial for the new government in dealing with international affairs."

The fourth decision is made In March 1953 when the CCP instructs the political propaganda department of Guangxi province that “Yishan Farmers Newspaper”, a local party’s press is not allowed to criticize the CPC committee of Yishan. The instruction declares " an internal discipline that the editorial policy of any press should not be contradictory to the policy of the party and the state agencies at the same or higher administrative level, while the party and the state agencies can do self-criticizing in the press that is under its leadership. Thanks to this policy, all members of the central government of the party and the state are automatically immune from public scrutiny and criticism by Chinese media.
In other words the party-run newspapers are not free in stating what the Chinese people do or feel. Only the central party leaders have this right exclusively. Quite often the provincial press is criticized for overstepping its boundaries. Schoenhals (1994) remarks "One unintended and perplexing consequence of the CCP Center's criticism of the media for voicing opinions on behalf of the People "in general" was that it became safer for journalists and editors to represent the sinister essence of what China's non-People, rather than China's People, did or felt. Domestic "running-dogs of imperialism" had no agents who protested a misrepresentation or falsehood attributed to them" He also notices "A second practice that disturbed the CCP Center was when journalists neglected to mention the role of the Party when discussing the achievements of individual representatives of the People. In a 1954 self-criticism produced by the editorial board of the Inner Mongolia Daily, this practice was attributed to a failure on behalf of the staff concerned to realize that the individual 'can accomplish nothing in isolation from the leadership of the Party and the power of the collective.'"

In his talks with newspaper editors on April 2 1948, Mao Zedong clearly stated the role of the press: "One of the methods is that we must fully utilize newspapers. Running newspapers well, running newspapers in a way that fascinates people, correctly propagating the Party principles and policies through newspapers, strengthening the connection between the Party and the masses through newspapers, is an issue that cannot be belittled in Party work, and that has a major principle significance… “The role and power of newspapers consists in their ability to bring the Party program, the Party line, the Party's general and specific policies, its tasks and methods of work before the masses in the quickest and most extensive way."
In the period of the first United Front policy (see part 1) the CCP published besides labor and peasant journals also youth and women journals "From the very beginning, therefore, the Party established a news media structure that consisted of both Party organs and non-party media outlets that were nevertheless under its leadership." In May 1949, the CCP leaders talked with several editors of independent published newspapers,
Wang Yunsheng
Wang Yunsheng (1901-1980) chief editor Ta Kung Pao (Shanghai)
Xu Zhucheng
Xu Zhucheng (1907-1991) Chief editor Wenhui Bao (Shanghai)
Pu Xixiu
Pu Xixiu (1910 ~ 1970) Deputy editor-in-chief Wenhui Bao (Shanghai)
Chu Anping
Chu Anping (1909-1966) Chief editor Guancha (Shanghai)
. The political leaders assured them that China needs privately owned newspapers because it still needed to gain support from these newspapers, which were still influential among the Shanghai urban population. The party lacked experience in making newspapers for the urban population. Until 1949, they had only published for cadres, soldiers, and peasants.

Mass illustration newspapers

The seizure was a difficult task for the new leaders because on the one hand they wanted control, on the other hand they had to separate their policy from the GMD censorship, which they had criticized firmly before 1949. Chin (2013) remarks " the CCP did not exert direct editorial control over non-party newspapers, such as Wenhui Bao and Xinwen Ribao. Rather, the CCP used social networks and party cadres to ensure compliance by non-party media workers. On the one hand, this demonstrates that the CCP felt sufficiently confident not to enforce prepublication censorship in the 1950s because of the successful nationalization of the Shanghai newspapers. On the other hand, however, this shows that the CCP still strove to hold to the principle of the United Front and the New Democracy to gain political legitimacy with the media system of the new regime." See also Part 4. However, nobody is fooled: the titles (of these newspapers) are only maintained after big rearrangements. Dagong Bao concentrates on financial and economic news, the Guangming Ribao reports mainly on cultural and educational affairs, Wenhui Bao concentrates on education, mainly in Shanghai, and the Xinmin Ribao specializes in reporting on sports and recreation. 2 newspapers, the Guangming Ribao, and the Wenhui Bao are published by the Minzhu Dangpai (the 8 democratic parties) and are considered as integral parts of the socialist press system in the People's Republic.
Between June 10, 1950 and December 31, 1952 a state owned English-language paper, The Shanghai News, existed in Shanghai. "Its main function was to publicize the PRC’s successes, condemn American imperialism, articulate visions of socialist internationalist and anti-colonial solidarity, and report local Shanghai news. Jarringly, this orthodox propaganda was juxtaposed with large amounts of advertising for Chinese and foreign-owned companies. Commercial advertising was encouraged as a sign of lively New Democratic economy. 17" Howlett (2020) notices: "… influence was the China Daily Tribune, an English-language newspaper set up in 1946 by the GMD’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and closed when the CCP seized Shanghai. The News inherited a significant proportion of the Tribune’s senior staff, office and manual workers, and printing machinery, as well as retaining its commercial business model. 23 The News aspired to be self-funding, through sales and advertising, akin to a privately-owned publication, in line with the principles of the New Democratic economy." The audiences the newspaper wants to reach are "(1) oppressed nationalities in Southeast Asia (2) foreigners in China [and] (3) the people of the New Democratic Countries and peace-loving people in imperialist countries.28"
Reporting on actual events is also subject to censorship. Renmin Ribao writes about the Chinese entry into the Korea War only 3 weeks later, on November 8, 1950, because then the paper could report on the first success of the Chinese intervention. "... distrust of the official media was commonplace. Not least of the reasons was that some sections of the population were exposed to news reports from Taiwan radio and, especially, Voice of America, a ‘factory for fabricating rumours’ according to one official commentator. 37 More generally, however, distrust was rooted in the fact that people were fully aware that the official media did not broadcast news that cast the Communist government in a bad light."
Mao Zedong keeps a tight control about the subject of propaganda of the Korea War. On January 5, 1951, he instructed Peng Dehuai “the whole country and whole world are carefully watching reports from the Korean War,” He stresses the need to publicize every battlefield victory and achievement, including “the release of prisoners of war and other important sudden steps ” all while making sure that Xinhua, the state news agency, “does not publish or leak military secrets or conditions at the same time.” Mao Zedong continues: “[We] must change the current situation where Xinhua often does not publish war reports, or publishes such reports too late.”
Furthermore, the entering of PLA troops in Tibet is only reported after 3 weeks of the real event. "The newspaper ’s November 2 edition contained the first big report on the subject, placed at the bottom of the front page, simply proclaiming “The People ’s Liberation Army Has Begun Advancing into Tibet.” The single headline was actually an umbrella for a series of smaller Xinhua stories, most composed of fewer than 10 sentences, with the main one a largely factual account of the advance, which at that point was several weeks old. The term “liberate” appeared frequently throughout the stories to describe the advance of the People ’s Liberation Army. " The Provisional Regulations for the Preservation of State Secrets of the People's Republic of China, which is promulgated on June 8, 1951, and the statute on punishment for counterrevolutionary activity (February 20, 1951) further limit publications.
Besides political supervision, there is economic control; all printing factories, paper supplies, and magazine circulation organizations are controlled by official publication agents. The newspapers are put on the basis of financial self-sufficiency. The 'private' newspapers have a serious financial crisis in the first several years and have to rely heavily on government subsidies and government-approved loans.
Publishers of newspapers and magazines become deprived of income because "In China, as in every other socialist country, commercial advertising constituted an uncomfortable presence; it was dismissed as incompatible with socialist ideals and useless in state-controlled economies, in perfect accordance with the traditional Marxist view. 7 The first years after the founding of the PRC actually witnessed the survival of the phenomenon, even though the participation of foreign companies came to an end." The distribution of newspapers is since 1952 in its entirety in the hands of the Post Office. "Remote areas with inadequate transportation facilities were poorly served, if at all. Villagers never received the papers to which, often, they had been forced to subscribe: or else they received them very late."

Ultimately, the party decides which articles are to be exchanged and which experiences are to be promoted or condemned. Due to the amount of illiterate people in China, the Conference of Newspapermen made in 1950 the decision to establish collective reading groups to spread news all over the country. Collective reading groups can, for instance, be found in industrial enterprises, schools, religious meeting points, armies, prisons, and groups of housewives.
Santacaterina (2021) states: "...propaganda apparatus was not necessarily focused on a tightgripped command of textual newspaper content designed to garner unshakeable support for the Communist party, as some earlier studies of PRC news systems have emphasized. Instead, this particularly widespread method of news dissemination focused on the sensational, the dramatic, and the captivating in order to get audiences excited about current affairs, the future of China, and the Chinese Communist Party’s role in that future."
Plettenberg (1998) remarks: "Attendance is described "voluntary", but is in reality an obligation. And it is one of the first duties of every propaganda, news and educational worker to organize such reading groups. 1) Despite newsprint shortage, distribution bottlenecks, illiteracy, and even such problems as a shortage of lamp oil, a vast proportion of the Chinese people can be reached by the press. 2) Discussions force participants to actively concern themselves with whatever is presented. 3) Selection of reading material provides an additional check on the flow of information. It gives the Party an opportunity to concentrate on primary issues to the exclusion of secondary issues which might confuse and distract the less educated and less advanced elements."
Before the PLA took over the area, the local underground CCP branch judged and catalogued all local media so that the local administration could swiftly deal with them as soon as they had control of the area. In Shanghai, the party categorized the newspapers into 3 political groups not economic (private or public): the reactionary press, middle of the road, and progressive media. Controlling the media industry is considered a "class struggle tool". The result of this screening in Shanghai is that between May and June 1949, of the existing 244 press agencies and journals, only 44 received accreditation.. The Shanghai Press and Publication Bureau substantiates their decision: "They actually served the reactionaries by being their propaganda tools. Some continue to publish under the guise of progressive or neutral positions so that they can try to maintain a reactionary propaganda base, but they had already committed too many sins against the people before 1949"
",…most of the foreign media and journalists, according to orders from the (Military Administration Committee) MAC, had to stop all publications. 94 In addition, the MACs only allowed some selected foreign publications and news agencies inside these areas to operate for the benefit of CCP public propaganda on the international scene, in terms of exporting its influence outside."
The number of mainland magazines is reduced from 1848 in 1945 to 295 in 1950. Existing magazines are restyled, like 'Little friends' (Xiao pengyou, 小朋友) not only in content (propaganda for the new regime but also in appearance (The magazine still opens from the right, but the characters are now printed from left to right.), and new magazines are published, like 'Children's Time, '(Ertong shidai, 儿童时代) in April 1950.
Many reporters and editors, who worked before 1949, are arrested and sometimes killed. All freelance journalists and publishers have to work in workplaces CCP controlled. "To be sure, these personnel controls are not imposed merely upon the official organs of the regime, They are applied to all newspapers and journals in the country irrespective of their formal auspices, The editor of a newspaper of a provincial women’s association, for example, although appointed by the association, must be first approved by the provincial party authorities and then confirmed by the Central Committee of the party." To further tighten the control, the CCP introduced the Thought Reform campaign (see article). The campaign is introduced in the Shanghai media industry on August 21 and ended on October 21, 1952. "Mostly, personnel from editorial and management departments of the privately owned newspapers were major participants of the campaign. The mass campaigns, such as the Thought Reform, turned out to be an effective way to coerce the shareholders of the privately owned newspapers to give up their shares to the government, and coerce the privately owned newspapers to be transformed into joint management. … Consequently, after the Thought Reform, those remaining privately owned newspapers, such as Wenhui Bao and Xinmin Bao, were transformed into joint public and private management by the end of 1952."
Chin(2013) concludes "The nationalization of the Shanghai newspaper industry went through a gradual process from the initial takeover in 1949 to the transformation of the remaining privately owned newspapers into joint public and private management (...), which completed the nationalization of newspapers by late 1952. The pattern of both the initial takeover and the nationalization process from 1949 to 1952 demonstrated that the relatively successful nationalization by the CCP was a combined result of both the gradual expansion of state control over privately owned newspapers since the wartime period and the CCP’ s coercive measures through mass campaigns, such as the Thought Reform (...)." To solve the shortage of 'reliable' journalists party cadres with some experience in propaganda work are recruited. This did not solve the problem and party schools started training cadres as journalists. The Beijing School for Journalism is founded with Marxist-Leninist theories listed at the top of the curriculum. Courses like newspaper’s mass work and propaganda are also important subjects.
Special interest papers for youth, workers, and government departments (Health News from the Ministry of Health) are published. See Table Newspapers. Not all newspapers are listed in this table. "By 1954, in addition to 151 Party organs, there were seventeen worker's newspapers, twenty-three farmers newspapers, seventeen youth and juvenile papers, fourteen specialized trade newspapers, and fifteen newspapers published by social organizations and other political parties." Besides these papers, there are several local newspapers, in 1951 there are more than 1000 county newspapers.

The fate of private commercial radio stations can be compared with the destiny of the commercial newspapers. In early 1950 there are 33 private radio stations (22 are located in Shanghai, 3 in Guangzhou and Chongqing, 2 in Ningbo, and 1 in Beijing, Tianjin, and Qingdao), at the end of 1953 they are all gone. In 1949 there were about one million radio sets, concentrated in urban “bourgeois” homes. Instead a network of controlled radio stations is established. "While taking over or closing down radio stations of the old regime, 16 the CCP also sought to expand the listening public for “People’s Radio Stations” (人民广播电台 renmin guangbo diantai) and to protect the airwaves from enemy infiltration."
Mao Zedong’s speech on October1, 1949 was broadcasted live. Microphones around Tiananmen Square were placed to capture audience enthusiasm and the military parade.
From 1950 onwards, a rediffusion network is started and within a year 51 stations with 2200 loudspeakers are installed. In the same year, the CCP tightened control over the sale of radio equipment and registered radio sets. The emphasis in developing this rediffusion network is due to the lack of radio sets in the rural areas and it is above all an inexpensive way to reach the rural population. Rooftop broadcasting was also a method to reach rural areas. News, agricultural knowledge, exchanged experiences, and promoted productivity by praising models and criticizing “backward elements” would be read out loud in the local dialect by a schoolteacher or other literate person. "The Party mandated “listening groups” in which cadres supervised discussion, partook in the singing of songs as one national body, and added local flavor to the Party’s broadcast directives." These broadcast programs are easy to control and interception by foreign adversaries is almost impossible. The broadcasts are used for propaganda ("for example: Social Science Course, Social History, Political Economy, Marx Engels's "Communist Manifesto", Lenin's "Imperialism" and "State and Revolution", and Mao Zedong's "New Democracy Theory") but also for health information and radio gymnastics.
A editorial of the Renmin Ribao states "Instead of strenuously organizing classrooms ‘handicraft industry style’ for only tens and hundreds of people, radio stations can simultaneously teach tens of thousands, even millions of students at the same time.” 26 Radio’s orality, speed, and massive reach were thus considered uniquely suited to govern China’s vast territory, inadequate infrastructure, and uneducated populace."

In 1949 'News Briefs' are started. They are publicized in theatres and in the open-air. In about 10 minutes each week news, politics, culture and entertainment are shown. For example, the News Brief Democratic Dongbei No. 13 produced in 1949 has five themes: Welcoming of Democratic Figures at the Beiping Front Gate Train Station; The National Student Representatives Union Held in Beiping; Dongbei Worker Politics University, Revolutionary Air Force Arrives in Jinan and Greeting the Nanjing Train.

The CCP takes immediately control over the foreign publishers. All ‘capitalist’ journalists have to go " and only selected foreign publications and news agencies (are allowed) inside these areas to operate for the benefit of CCP public propaganda on the international scene, in terms of exporting its influence outside. In such cases, the CCP then imported the reports to strengthen its propaganda effects inside. For example, four journalists from foreign countries were allowed to report on the celebration of the establishment of the PRC: one journalist was from the USSR, one from Italy (L’Unità), and two from North Korea95 "
In 1942, Mao Zedong criticizes the stereotypical writing style in the newspapers and emphasizes the need to write in simple and clear style. "Yet, most of the time, foreign language media relied on excessive usage of Marxist-Leninist phrases, which made its messages understandable only by those who were already familiar with this terminology. This was a major problem because the PRC's foreign propaganda media mainly targeted "middle elements" 171 abroad rather than leftist circles…"
On the other hand Volland (2003) notes ".. the Party’s ultimate goal is to achieve control over the media through the establishment of a fixed register of meaning that makes dissent all but impossible. Ideally, heterodox ideas cannot be expressed because the proper linguistic means to do so do not exist. In its most extreme form, the formalized and sterile bureaucratic language of the PRC has become known as “Mao style” (Mao wenti 毛文体). "
Schoenhals (2007) cites a NCNA editor, who stresses the importance of adapting the wording and contents of overseas propaganda to the ‘mental state’ of foreigners. "For instance, one must not put too much stress on the extension of working hours, on doing without rest or sleep, on women taking part in heavy physical labour, etc. This is because in the minds of Western readers, circumstances like these easily create the impression of labour being made more and more intense and of a lack of concern with [the wellbeing of] the individual. This in turn provides the enemy with opportunities to spread rumours.11"
The Foreign Language Press (FLP) and Radio Peking are the most important foreign language agencies. The staff of the FLP grew from 110 people in 1949 to 443 in 1953. The Radio Peking staff grew from 34 people to 214 in 1956. (Radio Peking launched Korean, Burmese, Thai, Indonesian, and Vietnamese broadcasts in the early 1950s, from 1954 onwards, they propagated “five principles of peaceful co-existence” and anti-US sentiment.) "In February 1950, a work report prepared by the editorial department of international broadcasts at Radio Peking summarized these objectives under four headings: 1. Propagating the victorious liberation struggle of the Chinese people; 2. Propagating China’s revolutionary experience; 3. Propagating the strength and development of the peaceful revolutionary front led by the Soviet Union; In January 1950, the People's China published its first volume. It started in English later followed by Russian, Japanese, Chinese, French and Indonesian editions. In its first issue, the twice-a-month magazine proclaimed: "This is a journal dedicated to cementing unity and friendship between the Chinese people and the progressive people of all lands and to the cause of the lasting peace and people’s democracy. Through its pages, we intend to inform our readers, twice a month, of the thought and life of the China that has freed herself from the clutches of domestic reactionaries and the yoke of foreign imperialists,—that is, the people’s China." In January 1951, a monthly magazine, China Pictorial, started publishing in English, but unlike People’s China, it is distributed in Chinese to domestic readers in July 1950, as well as in Mongolian, Tibetan, Uighur and Russian. Later on, editions in five other languages are published.
Lazarick (2005) notices "Bad news is missing. In the magazines, villagers confront landlords in struggle sessions, but the landlords are re-educated or flee from the scene; they are almost never beaten to death or executed, as happened to perhaps tens of thousands. The failures in the implementation of the 1950 Marriage Law are not disregarded, but they are considerably downplayed compared to the gruesome detail offered in domestic Chinese media. The smaller campaigns of the Three Antis and the Five Antis against bureaucratism and rightists receive some attention, but the editors do not tell the foreign readers what happened to the targets." Articles on foreign policy in the People's Daily are "treated as a diplomatic statement and controlled accordingly."
Tillman (2013) gives an example of propaganda, an English-language book, Children’s Tears, which targets overseas Chinese. The book condemns mission schools and orphanages. The complete disregard shown by these institutions for the lives and health of the children under their charge are eloquent evidence of the fact that they were founded to serve imperialist aims, with “charity” as a convenient form rather than a genuine aim. This is confirmed by the fact that those children who did not die of malnutrition or other causes were educated in a spirit of subservience to everything foreign and alienated from their own families and countrymen."

In June 1950,
Hu Yuzhi
Hu Yuzhi (1896-1986) chief editor Guangming Ribao in 1952, member of the board of Xinhua Agency. Director General Administration of Publications of the Central People’s Government
reported about the publishing sector. He stated: "The publishing sector of the entire country is still quite chaotic. Output is low and so is quality. The vast majority of new books are of mediocre content and are stereotyped. The biggest sales are only cadre study books and journals, with literary works coming in second; books in support of production and construction and reading materials for the great masses of workers and peasants are few and far between. We will have to spend a great amount of work to turn around the trend of publishing being detached from the real needs. ...High paper prices are of course the main reason for high book prices, but another reason is the mishandling of distribution and our inability to avoid waste. In most places, textbooks cannot be supplied in time."
By following the Soviet Union model of publishing, the CCP takes the decision to a division of labor along organizational lines and specialization according to subject matter. This results in the establishment of specialist publishing houses, each with a specific assignment: the People’s Publishing House specializes in publications of political nature and policy-related reading materials, the Education Publishing House task is to publish school textbooks. 2 other houses are the Youth Press and the Popular Readings Press. The larger private publishing houses have to concentrate their publishing activities on one special field. Their retail and wholesale activities are transferred to Xinhua.
"In order to stabilize the private publishing business and promote the publishing policies of the new government, two main measures were proposed and implemented, including jieguan (taking over) and tuanjie (unification)...The first policy, jieguan, was to receive and manage private publishing institutions which were directly related to the Nationalist (Guomindang, GMD) government in a strict and military way....The other measure, tuanjie, indicated the balancing of state-private relationship and the unity of public and private resources. This measure was a genuine implementation of the United Front (tongyi zhanxian) policy of the CCP for the national bourgeoisies under the regime of New Democracy."
Houn (1960) states: "Dissatisfied with the inconvenience in supervising a relatively large number of privately owned presses and in keeping with the policy regarding the socialist transformation of industry, the government began, in 1951, to step up its agitation among the privately owned publishing houses for the formation of the so-called joint state and privately owned presses, the formation of which not only opened the way for greater governmental control but also helped bring about the amalgamation of many small publishing houses into a few large concerns." Shanghai played the dominant role in the publishing industry in China, accounting for over 70% copies of publications of the national total at the beginning of 1949 and by the end of 1955, this number was significantly reduced to lower than 19%. The private publishing houses are no longer allowed to retain all their titles. The
Commercial Press
is founded in 1897 in Shanghai. After 1949 it specialized in dictionaries, textbooks, pedagogical texts
has to reduce the amount of titles from 15000 (prior to 1949) to 1354 in 1951. It is also forced to convert more than 90% of its stock into paper pulp.
Fig. 49.1 Books and Periodicals 1950-1954
Source: Houn (1960). Page 180
*number in 1000
The increase in numbers is caused by the publication of Thirty Years of the Chinese Communist Party, the works of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, the works of Mao Zedong, and other political works.
On August 16, 1952, the government issues the Provisional Regulations on the Control of the Book Publishing, Printing, and Distributing Firms. Article 4 of these regulations stipulates "All publicly-run and jointly-run book and newspaper publishing businesses, printing businesses and distribution businesses shall, on the basis of a permit of the higher level to which they are subordinate (organ, group or enterprise) and a business application letter, indicating the business scope, the equipment situation (where necessary, attachments presenting business plans shall be included), and put forward a request for inspection and approval of business with their local administrative publishing organ." The regulation prohibits all antirevolutionary books and magazines. This regulation tightens the control of the CCP, all publishing houses become tools of the government, and all publications are ideological correct. This process of control is not so tightened that the persuading of reading free approved publications is initially difficult to implement. Many people prefer to rent or buy noncommunist books from secondhand bookstores or bookstalls. See also Article 45

cited in Zhao (1989). Page 52 [↩] [Cite]
In a 1953 Party directive, the Party Central Committee instructed journalists from the Xinhua News Agency and Party newspapers to write internal reference material in areas such as: situations and sensitive problems in the implementation of Party policies, especially difficulties, deviations, mistakes and shortcomings that are important for the leadership to know; the political thinking of all types of people, their opinions on important domestic and international events, heir difficulties in their daily life and work, their opinions of the leadership, detailed information on natural disasters, the activities of counter-revolutionaries, and so on. Zhao (1989) Page 53-54. [Cite]
"The actual neican system was set up in 1951, shortly after the Communists came to power, when China was still closely allied with the Soviet Union, which already used its own version of neican for intelligence gathering." Young (2013). Page 65 [↩] [Cite]
Huang (2020). Pages 339-340 [↩] [Cite]
Plettenberg (1968). Page 81 [↩] [Cite]
Li (2007). Page 66 [↩] [Cite]
Li (2007). Page 90.
Li continues: "It firstly disciplined the journalists of the CPC press to respect the work and opinions of non-communist party members, especially those well known figures working for the government, in a New-democratic Revolution period. Secondly, it disciplined journalist of private owned media to do their reports under the supervision of the CPC and government agencies." Page 91 [↩] [Cite]
Li (2007). Page 91-92 [↩] [Cite] [Cite]
Li(2007). Page 67 [↩] [Cite]
Li (2007). Page 67 [↩] [Cite]
Schoenhals (1994). Pages 5-6 [↩] [Cite]
Zhao (1989). Page 31 [↩] [Cite]
Chin (2013). Page 970.
Chin also notices "The criteria for post-publication censorship were prohibition of behaviour violating government decrees, propaganda against the people’s liberation war, against land reform, and the people’s democratic system, propaganda against world people’s democratic movements, and leaking of national or military secrets" Page 968.
The list of permissible topics did not remain static. Over the years more items were added while others were removed in the shifting political tide.[Cite]
Vidal (2008) notices "Peu de publications sont maintenues. À Shanghai par exemple, sur les 244 organes et agences de presse enregistrés entre mai et juin 1949, seuls 44 obtiennent une accréditation." Translation: Few publications are maintained. In Shanghai for example, of the 244 organs and news agencies registered between May and June 1949, only 44 obtained accreditation. Vidal (2008). Page 64 [Cite]
Hung (2021) remarks. " many junior employees were involved in the day-to-day operation of the government agencies related to censorship (is hard to tell)....twelve people were hired to run this municipal office.58 They were mostly inexperienced. The workload kept expanding as the years went by, and the shortage of personnel prompted the offce to request additional help.59 The Beijing Municipal Party’s immediate remedy was to hurriedly put together five training classes between March 1949 and March 1950 to prepare 4,133 new cadres to work in various agencies of the municipal government." Page 25
He continues "Standards, in reality, varied greatly from one censor to another because the censors had few specific rules to follow. Decisions were made based largely on individuals’ personal knowledge, experience, and interpretation of the rules....Different places produced differing judgments." Page 38 [Cite] [↩]
Howlett (2020). Page 5 [↩] [Cite] [Cite]
Howlett (2020). Page 7 [↩] [Cite]
Howlett (2020). Page 8 [↩] [Cite]
Smith (2008). Page 273 [↩] [Cite]
Cited on Partly a response to anti-Chinese leaflets that the US/UN were spreading around North Korea [↩]
Young (2013). Page 92.[Cite]
Smith (2006) states "Rumor is present in all societies, and in Communist societies it functioned, to a large extent, exactly as it does in non-Communist societies—namely, as “improvised news” in which people comment upon the events taking place around them. 12 In the PRC, where the news media were tightly controlled by the party-state, it reflected a pervasive lack of trust in information that emanated from government. During the Korean War, for example, people in Shenyang, Chengde, and Hunan were reported as saying, “There’s nothing in the newspapers worth reading. They publish only the good news, not the bad. If something happens, they daren’t talk about it.” 13 Teachers in Wuxi and Suzhou were said to feel that the People’s Daily “has too little and too tardy news about the international situation.” 14 In Zhejiang, “merchants” opined: “The Zhejiang Daily is a Communist newspaper, so it only publishes news favorable to the Communists.” 15 Given this profound skepticism toward the news media, rumors about economic difficulties, about conflict among political leaders, or about tensions in international relations purported to reveal what the party-state was anxious to hide. In addition to the function of rumor as “improvised news,” however, much of the sociological literature stresses the role of rumor as a response to situations of crisis or uncertainty." Smith (2006). Page 408 [↩] [Cite]
(1) fixing subscription fees high enough to cover the cost of newsprint; (2) reducing the number of employees to a minimum; (3) adopting the system of cost accounting; (4) enacting rules governing the upkeep of equipment; (5) rewarding employees for elimination of waste and for high productivity; (6) using inexpensive, native-made newsprint; (7) improving services to the reader by getting papers printed and delivered promptly every day; (8) strictly enforcing the rules of budgeting and auditing; (9) engaging in profitable sideline activities such as using idle presses to print posters or handbills for commercial and governmental agencies; and (10) carrying advertisements for publishing houses, 'cultural organizations' and certain commercial enterprises.20" Houn (1958). Page 444 [↩] [Cite]
Puppin (2014). Page 180. [↩] [Cite]
Plettenberg (1998). Page 99 [↩] [Cite]
A description of the takeover of the Shanghai Evening Post is to be found in: Gould (1951). [↩] [Cite]
Santacaterina (2021). Page 10 [↩][Cite]
Plettenberg (1998). Page 113 [↩] [Cite]
cited in Ying (2014). Page 98 [↩] [Cite]
Shao (2011). Page 50 [↩] [Cite]
Houn (1958). Page 440 [↩] [Cite]
Zhang (2010). Page 25.
"... the individuals most affected by thought-reform and the restructuring of the media industry were middle and lower level employees. State officials put the weapon of democracy into these people’s hands and encouraged them to push the great reporting and accusation campaign to its height, only to drive the majority of those individuals out of the media industry." Zhang (2010). Page 79 [↩] [Cite]
Chin (2013). Page 15. Chin also remarks "In comparison with the nationalization of other industries, which was completed later in 1956, the Shanghai newspaper industry's nationalization was completed much earlier, in late 1952. .., the CCP emphasized the political importance of the press in the revolutionary process, and this explains partially why the nationalization of the Shanghai newspapers was completed earlier than that of other industries" Page 20 [↩] [Cite]
Zhao (1989). Page 37 [↩] [Cite]
See for example RMRB 26-10-1949 "Deprive counter-revolutionary freedom of speech! The Beijing Military Control Commission censored three radio stations" "Banning reactionary broadcasting stations and strengthening the people’s broadcasting undertakings" [↩]
Li (2020). Page 28. [Cite]
Li remarks "Shanghai’s propaganda department was to mobilize public sentiments against listening to Voice of America; trade unions and youth leagues were all supposed to persuade their constituents to submit to the registration and refitting (by physically disable shortwave on all the radio sets) of their radio sets." Page 29.
"In Hangzhou, shortwave radiosets had to be registered with the Residents’ Committees, and their owners had to pledge not to listen to the Voice of America" Wen (2015). Page 102 [↩] [Cite]
Cathcart (2010b). Page 207 [↩] [Cite]
RMRB editorial June 1950 cited in Li (2020). Revolutionary Echoes. Page 30 [↩]
Mao Yijing (2019). Page 191 [↩] [Cite]
Shao (2011). Page 50 [↩] [Cite]
Üngör (2009). Pages 55-56 [↩] [Cite]
Volland (2003). Page 223 [↩] [Cite]
Schoenhals (2007). Page 467 [↩] [Cite]
Üngör (2012). Page 26 Note 53 [↩] [Cite]
People's China January 1, 1950. Volume 1,1. Page 3 [↩]
Lazarick (2005). Page 168 [↩] [Cite]
Ohlberg (2013). Page 141 [↩] [Cite]
Tillman (2013). Page 209. "In part because the book was intended for an international audience, Children’s Tears placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of local Chinese leadership in the previous regime." [↩] [Cite]
Cited in Volland (2003). Page 280 [↩] [Cite]
Zhang (2020). Pages 164-165[↩] [Cite]
Houn (1960). Pages 177-178 [↩] [Cite]
Zhang (2020). Page 162.
"(The private publishing houses) could be approximately divided into the following types: large and general publishing houses with a relatively long history, such as the Commercial Press, Zhonghua Book Company (Zhonghua shuju), World Book Company (Shijie shuju), Dadong Book Company (Dadong shuju), Kaiming Bookstore (Kaiming shudian); medium-sized publishers, such as Longmen, Lixin, Beixin, Guangyi, Xinya, etc; and small bookstores including over 70 comic series (paomashu) suppliers, over 60 popular book publishers, over 10 children’s book publishers, and more than 20 picture card publishers, as well as over 10 map publishers and 11 religious publishing companies. In the meantime, there were also more than 50 members of the Association of New Publishers (xin chubanye lianying shudian), which had already participated the United Front and operated under the leadership of CPC before the takeover of Shanghai, ...Their publications were usually more serious and progressive." Zhang (2020). Page 165 [↩] [Cite]
"...,Volumes I and II of Complete Works of Lu Xun, and the works by other famous writers since the May 4th Movement, like Midnight and Family. Moreover, there were Chinese and foreign literary works. Some of them describe the revolutionary wars in China, like The Sun Shines over the Sanggan River, Mighty Storm, Luliang Heroes, Wang Gui and Li Xiangxiang and The White-haired Girl, etc.; and some about the war of resisting US aggression and aiding Korea, like Who Is the Most Lovable Person? Besides, the literary works of the Soviet Union like How the Steel Was Tempered were also published. Additionally, notable results were attained in the compilation and publication of ancient books, as evidenced by the fact that the classical novels such as Water Margin, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, A Dream of Red Mansions and Journey to the West were annotated and published." Fan (2019). Page 632[↩] [Cite]


19-04-1950 Decision concerning Launching Criticism and Self-Criticism in Newspapers
21-04-1950 General News administration decision concerning the Improvement of Newspaper Work and establishment Broadcast Receiving Network
01-05-1950 Decision on improving the work of newspapers
16-05-1950 Deng Xiaoping report delivered at a conference on the press in southwest China
08-06-1950 The Provisional Regulations for the Preservation of State Secrets of the People's Republic of China
20-02-1951 Statute on punishment for counterrevolutionary activity
13-06-1951 Notice of the Office of the Secretary of the Government Administration Council on Strictly Complying with Unified Release of News
15-08-1951 Interim Administrative Rules for the Printing, Casting and Lettering Industry
16-08-1952 The Provisional Regulations on the Control of the Book Publishing, Printing and distributing firms
12-11-1953 GAC Regulations concerning Rectifying the Phenomenon of Wilful Reprinting of Books

Meetings ....

  • 03-10-1949 - 09-10-1949 1st national Xinhua conference

  • 29-08-1950 - 10-09-1950 2nd national Xinhua conference

  • 15-09-1950 -25-09-1950 1st National Conference on National Conference on Publishing

  • Chapter 5 of Common Program

    Road to Common Program Common Program Bibliography Documents Contact