The Online Side of “Social Management” in China

The China Media Project at Hong Kong University was kind enough to host yours truly last June at a conference on new media and journalism in East Asia, and they continue, frankly, to impress the hell out of me.  It is both a testimony to the importance of the China Media Project and the need for more emulation of this program that CMP remains one of the few truly bilingual outfits out there endeavoring to penetrate through the fog and get straight to the point of what Chinese people are being presented as “news” and setting down to analyze it.

David Bandurski, the driving force (along with Director Qian Gang, a flinty and no-nonsense veteran reporter) of the China Media Project, weighs in with an analysis and translation regarding recent moves to further control the Internet in China:

Since President Hu Jintao’s address at People’s Daily in June 2008, the concept of “public opinion channeling,” or yulun yindao (舆论引导), has been a central part of the Party’s press control strategy. It implies a more modern, slightly more savvy approach to traditional “public opinion guidance,” the notion (born in June 1989) that the Party must enforce its political line in the media in order to maintain social and political stability and Party rule.

“Public opinion channeling,” which CMP Director Qian Gang has called “Control 2.0,” focuses not just on restricting information but ensuring that the Party’s own authoritative version of the facts predominates. In other words, information can no longer be simply controlled through traditional censorship tactics — it has to be actively spun as well.

For Bandurski’s translation of the Wang Chen editorial — not really delightful reading, but rather important in my estimation — click here.  The New York Times blog has another fine piece on a similar theme.

Finally, it’s worth noting that while People’s Daily and other Party views of this theme are going to be wildly divergent from most readers of this blog, China’s use of information technologies to render smoother the process of “social management” is being noted, quite possibly with emulation in mind, by North Korean friends in Pyongyang.

Depressing?  Try a feel-good tale about NBA stars playing in China and loving it.  Nothing like a little post-brawl sports journalism to act as a balm over any and all wounds and cultural misunderstandings.  As the Beijing Ducks shooting guard and China Daily columnist likes to say, “It’s a beautiful thing when you can tell your own story.”

Related Post (w/ photos of the direct predecessors of the above): Adam Cathcart, “The Yanan Spirit of Journalism,” Sinologistical Violoncellist, 9 November 2009.


  1. Marbury must be an exception, since some of the NBA types who relocated to China due to the owner-player standoff are less subline. Instead of flying to games, its a bus and there have been complaints about the lack of leg room. One food finicky NBA type had a personal chef written into his contract and has now been through five chefs. Another apparently loved the grub and passed on the personal chef clause. Sorry, can’t relocate the link, since I’m a soccer orientated commenter.
    True> CMP has been doing a stirling job translating this dense new media direction drivel. Also a great piece by JR on the recent Cultural Production policy which is both densely argued – by which I mean they mention everything under the sun and few things beside – and which is as funny as hell to read.
    Very non-adventurous new directions, or should I say retro policy retreads which speak of closure, rather than the opening out of the present collective Beijing mind.
    I ascribe all this to the 1) recent crazy bad pollution readings and 2) the 2012 leadership handover.

    Definitely not a time for creeping liberalisation.

    Its back to the future.

    1. Finally started reading “Starbury’s” columns in China daily. “Love is love” is his catchphrase which means, really, “share the ball.” Well, how about that?

  2. Must check that out, thanks Adam.
    But its the Wukan story at the moment, and Malcolm Moore and Custer are absolutely killing it. As I just noted on my site, reporting and blogging at its very best and in spite of massive restrictions.

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