How does the Chinese Communist Party retain its implacable rule over one-fifth of humanity? Richard McGregor explains.
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Newspaper editors and TV producers also get frequent calls, even if they don’t have red machines on the desk. It will be from the Central Propaganda Department giving the angle on the day’s news. Here again, the Party now uses a soft sell, relying on the media’s “self-discipline.” Chinese newsmen don’t really need to be told how to play a story, one editor explained to McGregor. “There is a red line in their head.”
Americans will soon be getting more of the Party’s perspective on current affairs as an increasingly media-savvy Propaganda Department develops Chinese news media overseas. The Xinhua agency recently announced plans to open a prominent newsroom in New York’s Times Square, with Reuters, News Corp., and the New York Times as neighbors. It will provide a Chinese-slanted news feed to CNC World, the agency’s new 24-hour channel. This is part of the Party’s decision to spend billions of dollars to create a global media empire to offset what it considers biased coverage of China.
Having banned it, the Party clearly considers McGregor’s masterful study to be biased coverage indeed. All the more reason to buy it, in order to learn what the Party would rather we did not know about how it really runs the country and how its hybrid Leninist capitalism works. The book also should be required reading as an antidote to the coming wave of 90th-anniversary CCP hoopla next year. The Party already has thousands of researchers working up a propaganda barrage of its official history since its creation in 1921. The world is about to hear more than it wants to about how the Party “successfully united and led the Chinese people to achieve miracles,” as Central Committee Vice President Xi Jinping recently put it.
When will the Party be over? On that inevitable, probably bloody, day when Chinese citizens decide that it’s not enough in life to get rich, if they don’t have the right to live free under a democratically elected government. They may already be partway there, having manifestly lost their communist faith. As a professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing told McGregor, “Party leaders realize that they don’t have a dominant ideology they can use to run the country any more. The sole ideology shared by the government and the people is money worship.”
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