Media Stands Strong Against Chinese Communist Party’s Tight Control Over Public Opinion

August 27, 2005 Updated: August 25, 2015
(Liu Jin/AFP/Getty Images)


Recently, in response to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) increased control over the media, people with integrity began to publicly express their dissenting opinions. On August 13, Asia Week disclosed that editors of The Beijing Economic Observer collectively resigned from their posts. Then on August 15, Li Datong, senior editor of the most influential youth publication–China Youth Daily, published a candid letter to the Chief Editor.

According to reports, editors from The Beijing Economic Observer collectively resigned to express their dissatisfaction in the suppression of accurate news by high-ranking CCP officials. Among the resigned were Xu Zhiyuan, Yu Wei, Shi Yan, Shao Yingbo, Huang Jixin and Zhang Fan, to name a few. Xu Zhiyuan is a well-known commentator in the Chinese journalistic circle. Others who resigned were also by and large members of the Commentary Division.

On August 15, Li Datong, who served 26 years as the editor of the column, “Freezing Point,” in the China Youth Daily, published a long letter with regards to the “China Youth Daily Editor and Journalists Assessment Regulation” formulated by Chief Editor Li Erliang. The letter states, “Without a doubt, the movement to enslave and vulgarize reporters of the China Youth Daily is in progress under your direction in name of the Editorial Committee And now, you are not even embarrassed to put it in print. This is indeed a rare exhibit of a government regulation attempting to subvert the spirit and value of Chinese youths.”

Li also revealed the contents of the regulation in his letter: “Whoever receives praise via written remarks of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Youth League earns 80 points. Similarly, one is rewarded 120 points if praised in the written remarks of the officials in the Central Propaganda Department, 100 points if received positive written remarks from higher members in the National or Provincial Party Committee, and 80 points if praised in letters of members in the National or Provincial Party Committee. Furthermore, a bonus of 300 points is rewarded to reporters who receive positive written remarks from Central high-ranking officials above the Chinese Political Bureau. The Chief Editors from which the awarded articles are published will also be recognized and rewarded.”

Li believes that the new regulation demonstrates that political officials view newspaper agencies as a service catering to their needs. Newspapers will be rewarded if they comply with the officials’ demands and, likewise, punished if they expose the officials’ shortcomings.

The Director of the China Youth Daily Supplement–Lu Xiaoya said, “I was astonished when I saw the new proposal. It clearly states that the performance of each editor or journalist is assessed by the amount of praise or criticism received from political officials. This is unprecedented.”

Li Fang, the Editor of the column “Youth Topic,” was even more straightforward when he submitted his resignation letter on August 11. He said to Wang Hongyou, the President of the China Youth Daily, “I wish to work in a liberal atmosphere, yet I feel that freedom is gradually vanishing and can not be reversed in this workplace. I have decided to resign for I refuse to be Zhao Yong’s puppet.”

[1] “Freezing Point” is a very popular column in the China Youth Daily.

[2] Zhao Yong is the Secretary of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Youth League and is in charge of the China Youth Daily.