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. 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." 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: "..news 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" 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
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 "...as 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.'"
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
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
Wang Yunsheng (1901-1980) chief editor Ta Kung Pao (Shanghai)
Xu Zhucheng (1907-1991) Chief editor Wenhui Bao (Shanghai)
Pu Xixiu (1910 ~ 1970) Deputy editor-in-chief Wenhui Bao (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. See also
Chu Anping (1909-1966) Chief editor Guancha (Shanghai)
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
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
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. 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,
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
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
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.
is founded in 1897 in Shanghai. After 1949 it specialized in dictionaries, textbooks, pedagogical texts
*number in 1000
"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
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
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.
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
Hung (2021) remarks. "...how 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
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
"... 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
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
"(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
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