Issue :   
July 2018 Edition of Power Politics is updated.         June 2018 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:May' 2018

BOOK BAZAAR

Monitoring Chinese media

M.R.Dua

NOT many years ago, western liberal media nicknamed the regimes of the two p r o m i n e n t Communist countries, the former Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China, as the ‘iron curtain,’ where from nothing would perforate to the outside world. Even their own omni present mass media, newspapers and magazines, radio and television, were restrained from attempting to penetrate into their systems to unravel inside unsatisfactory state of governance and horrific tales ofmasses.

However, it was in the late 1980s and early 1990s, that some reformer Soviet leaders, such as Brezhnev and Gorbachev, decided to tell their people of the ferocious march ‘the western (read US) version of neoliberal globalization’ was making to assert its hegemony. This trend didn’t last long. However, soon China crafted a ‘different kind of globalization’ strategy that propelled Beijing in ‘going global, ’and ‘going out,’ against then perceived fast ‘diminishing’ US ideals of ‘global growth ’by ‘globalizing.’

This was a much-needed opportunity for the Chinese media, hitherto confined only to its mainland, to jump in,‘go global,’ compete the western media, particularly the US media, in the game.Thus, with the launch of the Chinese Central Television – 9 (CCTV-9) in the year 2000, China’s first English language news network, China’s policy of ‘going out’ commenced with a meteoric flourish. The basic object was to ‘promote China’s views and vision to the wider world and countering negative portrayals of the country in the US-dominated international media.’ The crux of the Chinese media’s campaign was to persuade, propagate and focus on one goal:to reflect on ‘The Declining West and the Rising Rest.’

This book details at length almost all aspects of China’s flourishing robust, stout and sturdy, eloquent and vigorous, media that cover comprehensively the length and breadth of the country.

As a result, Beijing began ‘Big’ and set aside a hefty $7 billion ‘for external communication,’ including the expansion of the Chinese broadcasting networks— CCTV – renamed in 2016 as China GlobalTelevision Network—CGTN- - and setting up of the national news agency, Xinhua’s English language television network called, CNC World. There has been no looking back since then. By 2020, China will be adding another 80 centres to its already 120 functioning stations. Under Chinese ‘going-out’ project, all media have been, and are, expandingby leaps and bounds, opening new branches and editions of newspapers and magazines in Hong Kong, US, Canada, UK, Africa, Australia, France(chap.10, pp. 170-171) as Ms. Miao Mi opines, the aim is to take China’s views and vision to the west at large.

Finally, the book is an excellent compilation on the total Chinese media scenario; though, one may have to read between the lines to understand how much, if at all, the ironcontrolled, stringently gagged Chinese media are honestly able to portray the country’s ground-level, matter-offact realities.

This book details at length almost all aspects of China’s flourishing robust, stout and sturdy, eloquent and vigorous, media that cover comprehensively the length and breadth of the country. The country’s ‘Great Six’ Chinese media outlets include: People’s Daily; Xinhua, the news agency; China Central Television; China Radio International; China Daily; Chinese News Service—the Mandarin news agency. Besides, Chinese International Publishing Corporation brings out books and popular literature on diverse aspects of the Chinese society: people’s life, culture and customs.

Though Chinese media writers/critics rarely dare to criticize the establishment media on their individual performance, however, nowadays, one can also find lukewarm, soft and ‘muted’ critiques of the Chinese media’s inadequacies as compared to western media.

Ms. Miao Mi’s paper (chap. 10) attempts to take on failures in economy, expansionist foreign policy or defence issues. For, as a noted US media academic Javier C. Hernandez says: ‘In China’s state news media, what’s said may not be what’s printed.’

This volume spanned over four parts, with five chapters each, is compiled and also contributed to by Chinese senior media academics based in the UK and China, focusses on: conceptualizing the rise of China’s media; Chinese media abroad; discourses of Sino-globalization; and, finally, media with Chinese characteristics. In all, 20 chapters, including a highly readable and absorbing introduction by all the three editors, is an authoritative contribution on the expanding literature on the Chinese mass media.

Also, as of late, the Chinese media academics have been aggressively asserting and critiquing western media, dissecting extensively adversary journalists and writers on China’s expanding role in every global arena, this book answers many conflicting views on the Chinese media. But, also ignore many conundrums.

Contrasting media values, Hugo de Burgh (chap. 3) opines that Chinese media are deeply rooted on ‘communitarianism’—‘far from being independent individuals, we are first and foremost members of a community. ’And journalists are expected ‘not object the principle of authority influencing the media,’ meaning thereby that ‘authority’ is supreme. This is wholly unacceptable in western media. In China, ‘media executives may be more like disciple than colleagues.’

In addition, the contributions in book also focus other areas of Chinese media, ‘China Daily’, said to be ‘Beijing’s global voice’, internationalization of China’s new documentary, advertising industry, cultural centers, foreign correspondents in China, financial media, patterns of international communication, social media, global impact of China’s entertainment television programming. The slender section on Chinese media abroad touches briefly how Chinese television English language news for Africa, China Radio International, and newspapers and journals reflect ‘the Chinese – a potential emissary of ‘soft power’, spreading the notion of areimagined world order with a resurgent China at its center.’

The chapter entitled ‘foreign correspondents in China: partner or liability in China’s public diplomacy?’ by Wanning Sun makes highly absorbing read. It enumerates rules and regulations, many restrictions and limited rights that they enjoy in independently performing their media duties. Nearly 30 foreign reporters mostly from USA, UK, France and Germany form the majority. India doesn’t find mention in the number, two-three large English language dailies do maintain their staffers in Beijing.

Finally, the book is an excellent compilation on the total Chinese media scenario; though, one may have to read between the lines to understand how much, if at all, the iron-controlled, stringently gagged Chinese media are honestly able to portray the country’s ground-level, matter-offact realities. For, it’s too wellknown that foreign media outlets like The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Times, London, etc., put out every day stories of utter poverty, miseries, deaths and tortures; where dissent has just no place.

There’s rarely an honest account of media’s internal state. The book, being the latest allround focus on Chinese media, is an exhaustive account that would deeply interest students, academics and researchers. Political writers too would find a lot of food for thought.