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Propaganda Head Liu Yunshan Calls for Positive Spin on Economy

Liu Yunshan, head of the Communist Party's Central Propaganda Department (CPD), called on propaganda officials to prioritize "economic propaganda work" to deal with the current economic downturn, according to remarks he made on November 18, 2008, as reported in a Xinhua article (in Chinese) of the same date. Liu, speaking to directors of local propaganda bureaus and "persons responsible for news media," said that "positive propaganda" should be the "guiding principle." He urged officials to "create a positive public opinion environment in order to achieve economic stability and faster growth" and "guide the people to a correct understanding of the difficulties faced," and told them that "political consciousness at the front lines of propaganda ideology must be strengthened." Liu's comments are significant because the CPD imposes restrictions on the Chinese media's reporting of topics perceived to be sensitive by the Party.
  • Praise Central Party and Government Handling of Economy. Liu, who is also a Party Central Committee member and secretary of the Secretariat, said propaganda should stress that "under the strong leadership and scientific policies of the Party Central Committee and the State Council, our nation will completely be able to overcome the difficulties before us, and continue to maintain the trend of healthy development for the national economy." He said propaganda should showcase the central leadership's major policy responses to the crisis and the "positive results" from such policies.

  • Link to Overall Propaganda Strategy. Liu said that the propaganda initiative on the economy should be tied to propaganda regarding the thirtieth anniversary of China's reform and opening up, relief efforts following the Sichuan earthquake in May, the hosting of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games in August, and the nation's manned space flight program, which most recently launched in September.
Even before Liu's remarks, officials had been ordering Chinese media to not report "negative news" as China's economy has slowed. In September 2008, propaganda officials ordered major financial Web sites to remove "negative" reports regarding China's stock markets. In some cases, newspapers who publish "negative" financial news have been punished. In September, for example, the Inner Mongolia Press and Publication Bureau ordered the three-month suspension of the China Business Post after it published a report in July critical of the Agricultural Bank of China, which at the time was preparing for a stock offering. Such restrictions not only violate international standards regarding freedom of expression, but also prevent citizens from accessing important information because the Party deems it to be "negative," and thus unsuitable for public consumption.

Liu's remarks also follow a major June speech by President Hu Jintao, in which he said journalists' "first priority" is to "correctly guide public opinion."

For more information on how the government and Party censor China's media, see Section II - Freedom of Expression, in the Congressional-Executive Commission on China's 2008 Annual Report.

Source: -See Summary (2008-12-08 ) | Posted on: 2008-12-20  
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