A Look Inside China's Propaganda Bureaucracy
Jimmy Wu, 14 Nov 17

The publicity department of the Communist Party of China has been producing popular rap songs to promote President Xi Jinping's policies. Screenshot from Youtube.

At the 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party Chinese president Xi Jinping (習近平) crystallized his power in China. His ideas are now reflected in China's constitution.

Moving forward, newly-selected Politburo Standing Committee member Wang Huning, an academic-turned-politician, will lead the CCP Publicity Department for further propagating and theorizing Xi's “China Dream” of national revival inside and outside China.

For Xi, ideology is a major weapon in maintaining the legitimacy of the CCP. He has leveraged China's online public sphere as a space for demonstrating and promoting party principles and ideals. All media outlets must plead loyalty to the CCP and more recently, even internet companies have been encouraged to establishes CCP participation among their employees.

The Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China plays a central role in this “ideological front” as it directs the country’s enormous propaganda machine which determines national policies on culture, art and education.

The majority of western media outlets refer to China's ideological battle as “propaganda” but do not explain the complex bureaucracy that builds and maintains this ideological front. Hong Kong-based investigative journalism media The Initium recently published an in-depth report on the transformation of the CCP Publicity Department. Below is a partial translation of the Chinese report.

A Brief History of CCP's Publicity Department

In 1924, when China was divided among former military cliques of the Beiyang Army, Kuomintang and other regional factions, CCP formed a political alliance to end warlordism.

This led to the founding of the CCP Publicity Department, the role of which was to publish statements, propose slogans, make flyers, and explain the ideas of Chinese communism within the National Revolutionary Army and to ordinary people during the Northern expedition for China's unification.

During the second Sino-Japanese War from 1937-1945, when the CCP's Liberation Army established its communist base at Yan'an, former CCP leader Mao Zedong (毛澤東) (in leadership position 1943-1976) made use of the first ideological mass movement, the Rectification Movement, to restructure the party newspaper and party magazines and ensure that all publicity work should serve CCP's interest.

With this Mao established a principle of putting politics before journalism, what is now is referred to by historians as “Maoist Journalism”.

In order to control what news could be known by the public, the Publicity Department started issuing internal publications for party officials.

In addition to the duty of explaining and promoting the ideology of Chinese Communism, the department also monitored news opinions, censored publications and guided art creation.

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