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Beijing Calls for Tighter Control of Media and Education

18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, Nov. 2012

18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, Nov. 2012 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Chinese Communist Party has issued guidelines calling for tightened control of media and education in China, according to a report by the state-run Xinhua News Agency on Dec. 24. These guidelines were issued in the name of “bolstering core socialist values and pooling positive energy to realize the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation.”

Included in the party guidelines are directives calling for increased “management” (i.e., censorship) of news media and the internet. “The media must steadfastly uphold correct guidance of public opinion,” say the guidelines, “Management of the media should be strengthened and the media should not provide channels for the spread of the wrong points of view.”  In education, likewise, “core socialist values” should be emphasized in all schools “and made a way of thinking for students.”

“Correct guidance of public opinion” is a frequently-seen phrase that reveals the party’s obsessively totalitarian mindset. The party clearly wishes not only to control the actions of Chinese people, but to control their thoughts. This totalitarian mindset is further revealed in the party’s directive against permitting “the wrong points of view” in Chinese media, and in its in intention to control the “way of thinking” of students in Chinese schools.

As Reuters observes, these guidelines fit the general pattern of a clampdown on public discourse by the current leadership under President Xi Jinping since taking power in January 2013. The Beijing Daily, as Reuters notes, called the party’s struggle for Chinese hearts and minds a “fight to the death.” Under conditions of rapid social change in China, the party appears to be in fear of losing its grip on power.

The party’s continuing efforts to tighten its control of news media include a mandatory Marxist education program and test for all Chinese journalists. “It is absolutely not permitted for published reports to feature any comments that go against the party line,” according to the test manual for journalists, and “the relationship between the party and the news media is one of leader and the led.” The party’s new guidelines are likely to result in similar measures for schools and teachers.

Ironically, the “core socialist values” that the party claims to promote in its guidelines include the values of “democracy” and “freedom.” Ironically also, these guidelines include a call to boost China’s “soft power” around the world. Very little democracy, freedom, or soft power will be gained through an open call by the party for increased censorship of Chinese media and increased brainwashing in Chinese schools.

It is perfectly clear why the Chinese Communist Party would issue guidelines such as these for Chinese media and education. Why it would publish them in English for the world to see is another question.



Mark C. Eades

Mark C. Eades is an Asia-based writer, educator, and independent researcher. Located in Shanghai, China from 2009 to 2015, he now splits his time between the United States and various locations in Asia. He has spent a total of seven years in China since his first visit in 1991, and has taught at Fudan University, Shanghai International Studies University, and in the private sector in Shanghai. He is also widely traveled throughout East and Southeast Asia. His educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts in Social Science and a Master of Arts in Humanities from San Francisco State University with extensive coursework in Asia-Pacific studies. His previous publications include articles on China and Sino-US relations in U.S. News & World Report, Asia Times, Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, and Atlantic Community. Twitter: @MC_Eades