Mass Media as Instruments for Political and Social Control in China: Media Role in Chinese Politics


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Virginia Tech


Under the influence of Soviet media theory, Chinese media have been held under the control of the Communist Party of China ever since the Party was established in 1921. However, this practice of control was subject to change as a result of rapid economic development and many social changes brought about by economic reform after 1978. This thesis explores the current situation of media control in China. Although the mass media in China began to enjoy more autonomy and diversity after the nation adopted its policies of reform and opening up to the outside world, given that political reform did not keep pace with economic reform, this study hypothesizes that the degree of government control varied according to the nature of the issues involved. It is expected that there would be tighter government control over the media in reporting political issues than reporting economic and social issues. The result of these case studies confirmed the original hypothesis. This study demonstrates that the relaxation of media control only happened in the non-political sphere. For those issues with political implications, there remained tight government control. In other words, the media are still used as instruments for political and social control in current day China. This study also explores the detailed approaches adopted by the government in controlling media content, management and operation. Furthermore, based on the study of both the historical development and the current situation of media control in China, this research points out the possible future developments for media control in China.



Control, Mass Media, Chinese Government, The CPC