Synopses & Reviews
Praise for THE PARTY LINE
"The Party Line is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the way the media works in China. Young has penned a fascinating account of journalism in the world's most populous country, where reporters are viewed as equal-parts writers and intelligence gatherers and the media continues to play a central, albeit evolving role in conveying the Communist Party's message. Anyone who's ever wondered about the SARS news blackout, the media's role in the Tiananmen Square student movement crackdown or, more recently, Google's pullout from the Chinese market, will gain insight into these topics and more from a Western journalist who spent more than a decade working as a reporter in China."
—Lori Streifler, Editor in Chief, City News Service, Inc.
"Most people assume Chinese media just dutifully tout the party line, since almost all are owned by the state. But as Doug Young explains, the reality is a lot more nuanced. Chinese journalists are in theory the eyes and ears of the Party. Yet with commercial pressure, they also play a cat-and-mouse game with censors to win readers. Young, who is a fluent Mandarin speaker, provides insightful and thought-provoking analysis through dozens of carefully gathered accounts from local journalists. The Party Line is a useful read for anyone who wants to understand the changing roles played by modern Chinese media."
—Wei Gu, Greater China columnist, Reuters Breakingviews
"From Xinhua's part CIA-like role to increasingly intrepid news-gathering in the time of SARS and the Internet, Doug Young's book is an absorbing and comprehensive look at China's unique media landscape."
—Mei Fong, Pulitzer prize–winning former Wall Street Journal China correspondent; adjunct professor, University of Southern California
"At a time of unprecedented diversity and fluidity in China's rapidly evolving media in the Internet age, the struggle over the future of Chinese journalism is one of the great unfolding dramas in that country's epic emergence as a global power. Doug Young draws on more than two decades of experience as a teacher, traveler and foreign correspondent in the region, combined with prodigious archival research in Mandarin, to provide a comprehensive primer on the Chinese Communist Party's decades-old system of control and manipulation of the news—from the Korean War through the Cultural Revolution, and from the Tiananmen protests down to today's increasingly anarchic new media landscape. Informative, insightful and appropriately skeptical of all sides, Young has opened an invaluable window into a formidable monopoly of information which—millions of Chinese are only now beginning to hope—may finally be starting to erode."
—Bill Berkeley, adjunct journalism professor at Columbia University and former New York Times editorial writer
How China Makes Up Its Mind is the first book to offer a mainstream, comprehensive perspective on the role of the press in China and how China uses its tightly controlled media to shape public opinion. The book takes readers beyond China's economic miracle to show how the nation's massive state-run media complex not only influences but actually creates public opinion in the world's most populous nation. The book uses the official Xinhua News Agency (whose name literally means "New China News Agency"), along with its history and reporting over the years, as the foundation for telling the story.
A chilling look at how the Chinese state media dictate popular opinion
There are 1.3 billion people in China, a number so vast that it makes popular consensus almost unimaginable. Yet, incredibly, when it comes to most issues, the majority of Chinese citizens think alike. The Party Line: How The Media Dictates Public Opinion in Modern China explores how this is possible, looking at the ways in which the strictly-regulated, state-owned media, specifically the Xinhua News Agency (literally the "New China News Agency"), don't share news, they shape opinion.
From foreign relations, to government corruption and global warming, the Chinese media is able to craft a national single-mindedness that defines opinion throughout the country. Tibet and Taiwan are cast as integral parts of the nation, Japan is presented as an evil empire that cannot be trusted, and the United States becomes an on-again-off-again partner for cooperation both at home and abroad. Using a trickle down approach in which official views are formed at the top news outlets and then picked up by regional and local affiliates to give the appearance of many voices with a single message that is reinforced at every level, the book shows how the Chinese government controls the strings of the media to literally toe the party line.
- Explores the incredible role the media plays in shaping Chinese public opinion
- Explains how the major Chinese news outlet, controlled by the state, creates a hive-mind mentality across the world's most populous nation
- Examines how the government can instantly and easily galvanize public support for its agenda
The average Chinese citizen shares remarkably similar views on a wide array of issues, domestic and foreign, thanks to the unified message distributed by the tightly controlled state-run media, and The Party Line presents a unique, behind the scenes look at how.
The first in-depth, authoritative discussion of the role of the press in China and the way the Chinese government uses the media to shape public opinion
China's 1.3 billion population may make the country the world's largest, but the vast majority of Chinese share remarkably similar views on these and a wide array of other issues, thanks to the unified message they get from tightly controlled state-run media. Official views are formed at the top in organizations like the Xinhua News Agency and China Central Television and allowed to trickle down to regional and local media, giving the appearance of many voices with a single message that is reinforced at every level. As a result, the Chinese are remarkably like-minded on a wide range of issues both domestic and foreign.
- Takes readers beyond China's economic miracle to show how the nation's massive state-run media complex not only influences public opinion but creates it
- Explores an array of issues, from Tibet and Taiwan to the environment and US trade relations, as seen through the lens of the Xinhua News Agency
- Tells the story of the official Xinhua News Agency along with its history and reporting over the years, as the foundation for telling the story
Japan is a former aggressor that can't be trusted. Tibet historically has always been a part of China. Falun Gong is an evil cult working to dupe the masses . . .
China's 1.3 billion population may make it the world's most populous country, but, thanks to the unified message promulgated by the tightly controlled state-run media, the vast majority of Chinese share a similar belief in these and a wide array of official truths.
In The Party Line, Shanghai-based journalist and China media expert Doug Young pulls back the veil of secrecy surrounding China's media apparatus to provide us with the first in-depth look at how and by whom official views in China are shaped and disseminated, and how they are enforced.
In a thorough feat of investigative journalism, Young takes us beyond the Chinese economic miracle to show how the nation's massive, state-run media complex works and from whom it receives its marching orders. He vividly describes how official organizations like the Xinhua News Agency and China Central Television transform actual world events into prescribed public opinion. And he identifies the channels through which the official news trickles down to regional and local media to create the illusion of many independent voices singing in perfect harmony.
Along the way, Young digs deep into an array of major new stories—from Tibet and the Korean War to the Tiananmen Square student movement and Google's withdrawal from China—as seen through the lens of Xinhua News Agency and other official media. In the process, he sheds new light on the mystery of how it is that the Chinese people are so remarkably uniform in their views on such a wide range of issues, both domestic and foreign.
Young also provides a fascinating historical account of the broader Chinese media and how its reporting has evolved over the years, including how it has adapted to keep pace with the liberalization of China's economy and society and the advent of the Internet and social media.
Offering the first authoritative, in-depth look at the role of the press in China and the way the Chinese government uses its media arm to make up its people's minds, The Party Line is a must-read for anyone with a professional interest in China, including policy analysts, policymakers, and businesspeople with an interest in doing business in China, as well as academics and students of media and current affairs.
About the Author
Doug Young is an associate professor in the Journalism Department at China's Fudan University in Shanghai. He has worked in the media for nearly two decades, half of that in China, where he witnessed the massive changes that have taken place in the country since the earliest days of the reform era in the 1980s. Most recently, he worked for Reuters from 2000 to 2010 covering the China story out of the agency's Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Taipei bureaus. Prior to relocating to China, he worked as a journalist in Los Angeles. A native of Washington, DC, he received his bachelor's degree in geology from Yale University and a master's degree in Asian studies from Columbia University. In addition to his current roles as teacher and author, he is a closely followed commentator on the latest Chinese business news and industry trends on his blog, www.youngchinabiz.com.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: The Agenda
Telling the Party’s Story
Tool for Social Stability
Changing with the Times
Chapter 2: Spreading the Word
Rise of the Internet as a New Major Force
Breaking News: an Uneasy Truce
Chapter 3: Ultranetworked
Caught Up In Connections
Promoting the Party’s Agenda
Steering Clear of Well-Connected Organizations
Chapter 4: Reporters
The Party’s Eyes and Ears
Investigating Trouble in the Provinces
Xinhua: the Party’s First Take on History
Chapter 5: Korea and Tibet
China Finds Its Voice
Four Media Approaches
Tibet: a Lost Family Member Returns to the Fold
Chapter 6: Cultural Revolution
The Ultimate Media Movement
Guerilla Coverage at Fever Pitch
Educator of the Masses
Chapter 7: A Nixon Visit, the Death of Mao and Road to Reform
A Softer Approach
Kissinger’s Secret Trip
Starting with a Handshake
Chapter 8: The Tiananmen Square Divide
The Media Gains, Then Loses, Its Voice
Key Moments: Death of a Former Reformer
Students Go on Strike
Chapter 9: Falun Gong
Guerilla Coverage Returns
Starting with a Stealth Demonstration
Explaining the Evil
Chapter 10: A Bombing in Belgrade and Anti-Japanese Marches
The Nationalism Card
Putting out the Flames
Japan: a Case of Old Resentments
Chapter 11: SARS
Don’t Spoil Our Party
Cracks in the Monolithic Facade
Breaking Open the Coverage
Chapter 12: The Beijing Olympics and Sichuan Earthquake
Resurrecting the Laundry List
Proud to Be Chinese
Chapter 13: Google in China
When Issues Go Viral
Breaking the Silence: China’s Internet Is Open
About the Author