In times gone by, analyses of evolution of mass media systems have be inclined to draw upon a “dissident vs. State” structure. In China, a “state vs. market” scenario has been superimposed in this general framework, in the perspective of which china is often portrayed as a monolithic entity intent on promoting reforms that are market-oriented while maintaining a tight regulations on the country’s mass media, as well as political super structure. Arguably, these dominant analytical frameworks tend to accumulate a number of fundamental dynamics that are unique to the Chinese history. In essence, the society has played critical roles in the process of transformation of mass media. In this paper, we discuss how media policy has changed in china and the impacts that have resulted from new media take to China society.
One trend in China’s media policy that has developed into more noticeable over the past few years has been clearly represented by a renowned slogan “neiwai youbie” and “neijin waisong” i.e. “the difference between in and out”, and “controlled inside vs. relaxed outside” (Donald 25). Donald (25) argues the idea behind the policy was to exert tighter control over domestic media and more over prevent destabilization of the society while relaxing the exotic media reporting. According to Donald (26), the Chinese media system is greatly determined by the dichotomy of two fundamental constituents i.e. the people of China and the government. Donald (26) states that to understand China media system, it is critical to remember that as a country, China uses a one-party political system.
According to Jiang-Ping (68), a major section of the media i.e. the state-owned outlets and extremely controlled and censored since they serve as the government mouthpiece to convey the party’s spirit and to broadcast government policies. As such, propaganda is believed to be the most crucial interest, and censorship is a critical weapon to serve and protect these interests. Additionally, while they openly have the agenda, the government of China has often suspected the western media to be politic ally biased. Notably, it is for this reason that the international media has continuously struggled to develop a strong base in China and become influential. Jiang-Ping (70) argues that Chinese readers are extremely internet-savvy; nonetheless, the social media has increasingly provided transparency in the China media landscape (Jiang-Ping 70). Evidently, the push for more transparency and less censorship will continue though this change will happen incrementally. Zhou and Wang (27) note that the Chinese policy makers basically prefer taking small steps forward instead of changing drastically which they believe is prone to rebound.
Despite the continued censorship in the contemporary china, there have been positive changes evident in the Chinese media sector – predominantly, new breed of Chinese journalist who has established themselves as voices of the general public, China’s Internet-savvy readers, and social media effects.
In the post-China media reforms era, no Chinese could express their thoughts or opinions since the risk of being made an outcast as a counter revolutionary or a rightist was very high. In the modern China, journalists have the freedom and chance to maneuver, although not as much as it is in the western countries. Ferdinand and Haitian (210) note that other things has transformed. While censorship has become subtler and exceedingly sophisticated, the undetectable censor’s hand remains resilient in determines which foreign news channels will not be broadcasted, which reported is considered unwelcomed or even which domestic news requires to be taken out. Ferdinand and Haitian (210) also indicates that self-censorship is another nature of the Chinese, more so those working with the government media sectors.
In general, media revolution in china can be viewed as two sides of one coin. To begin with the reform period has given more space to the media that has gradually changed the attitude of the readers. Through the social media and internet, ordinary citizens have been transformed into self-made journalists and reporters. They have contributed to pushing the boundaries of social media further (Chao-Ching et al. 350). In general, in China, just as in U.S, the internet has been the single most important disruptor of the media industry, through the disruptor in China has even been larger due to high penetration rate and the initial stages of media development. Today, the media consumers in China can choose from a collection of sources. Chao-Ching et al. (351) also note that while the media was previously entirely top-down i.e. government-driven, the internet has allowed the readers to pose their opinion more liberally and to freely connect with each other more easily than before.
China has passed through a media revolution that has completely changed the domestic context for making both domestic and foreign policies (Chao-Ching et al. (351). Chao-Ching et al. (351) further establishes that as the new media compete with one another, they naturally try to appeal to the tastes and preference of their prospective audiences. In the contemporary China more than two decades of economic reforms and institutional changes have transformed the country from the totalitarian, monolithic, homogenous, closed and drab regime to a vibrant, heterogeneous, colorful, globalized and capitalistic society. Zhang (689) established that this unprecedented vitality, prosperity, and diversity in the society, as well as, the society, have yet to critically change the nature of the Chinese political system. According to Zhou and Wang (27), what is special about Chinese reform is that economic reform has never gone together with the political reform, however, now it is apparent that the free-wheeling market economy actually coexist with improved party-state’s domination of political power within China. Zhou and Wang (27) establishes that with the new values, practices, knowledge and ideas the traditional political system still holds fast to its history.
According to Zhou and Wang (27) the increasing number of state-owned media that are operating overseas bureaus in locations like New York and Washington, Nairobi and even Mexico City is a clear sign of how the China government endeavors to exert soft power. Zhou and Wang (27) establishes that these bureaus are exceedingly sourcing international content and also meant to offer the globe a Chinese centered view of the contemporary world- affairs as well. Just like the Aljazeera, the government is endeavoring to rely on local journalist. This helps to convince the world on the commitment of Chinese people in supporting their government policies.
Unfortunately, majority of the Chinese media companies that have expanded overseas are actually not ready to make that step (Chao-Ching et al. 350). Ferdinand and Haitian (210) note that expansion often is simply a unilateral wish being pushed downwards through the ranks and insufficiently executed. Ferdinand and Haitian (210) also indicate that in other cases, media expansion follows a politic al marching order which lacks proper research and preparation. Arguably, without proper preparation, the Chinese companies venture abroad expansion without proper knowledge on customs and cultures. Naturally, communication plays fundamental role in the Chinese liberalization process.
Chao-Ching et al. (351) note that in the Chinese government’s policy, the intensity of regulation and control varies by media organization. Chao-Ching et al. (351) also establishes that the New China News Agency, CCTV, among other media organizations that are media oriented, as well as, party organs like the people daily have placed under tight control. Chao-Ching et al. (351) note that controls over commercial media organizations like the local newspaper which as subsidized by the Chinese government are exceptionally lax. Ferdinand and Haitian (210) also notes that by type of media, television and radio are placed under rigid control, followed by magazines, newspapers and internet in that order. Chao-Ching et al. (351) further states that a series of measures have been placed to impose tougher stronger regulations of the social media and internet. Factually, tougher regulations can be established as reactions to rapid growing influence of the internet as a new-fangled and powerful type of mass media in china.
According to Zhang (690), foreign executives can choose from various Chinese news outlets. Xinhua, South China Morning Post, CCTV, Caijing, People’s Daily, and Caixin all uses English language websites and often offer quality content. Zhang (690) also indicates that to understand the impacts that have resulted from new media take to China society, it is essential to follow both private and government owned outlets and being keen to the ownership as well as the potential agenda of each source.
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