Censorship in China

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It has been argued that the end of the Cold War and globalisation has made Western-style liberal press system as a universal model and no nation can free itself from the powerful influence of its universal value. Discuss this argument in the Asian context by applying relevant theoretical approaches discussed in this course. You may choose one Asian nation as a case study to address your ideas about the argument.

The Chinese Communist Party exerts near complete control over the country’s 358 television stations and 2,119 newspapers — the primary media available to more than one billion Chinese citizens. In the People’s Republic of China, there are no Chinese-language news media that are both widely accessible and independent of the government. While available to more than 100 million users, the Internet is closely monitored by the state; access to politically threatening Internet sites and web logs is blocked; uncensored satellite television is not legally available to the general public; foreign radio broadcasts are scrambled; and the sale of publications with content critical of the regime is restricted (Esarey, 2006). Chinese Communist Party control of the media is deeply challenged by the pressures of commercialization, the journalistic profession, and globalization. For this reason, the Chinese Communist Party has increased monitoring of media personnel and news content, tightened controls over the Internet, and resorted to more frequent coercion of journalists reporting on politically sensitive topics. In democratic countries, the news media industry has independent legal status from the government. A media company’s investors are its owners; the market decides the life or death of a company, and a newspaper with no subscribers will not survive. But this international principle does not apply to China. China’s government agencies have designated the broadcast media as a special commercial activity, and no matter who its investors are, a news provider is a publicly owned resource. As a result, all news agencies have just one shareholder, the Chinese Communist government (Quingian, 2004). Reporters Sans Frontiers compiles and publishes an annual ranking of countries based upon the organization's assessment of their press freedom records. The report is based on a questionnaire sent to partner organisations of Reporters Sans Frontiers and its 130 correspondents around the world, as well as to journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. China ranks 163rd on their Press Freedom Index, a reflection on their current media landscape

Before the slight media reforms in China, when all Chinese media were funded and controlled by the government, rights of ownership were quite straightforward. At that time, any private citizen who wanted to start a newspaper was automatically branded a criminal. Today, generally speaking the central government controls and owns the media in China by means of political power and a series of coercive policies. Local governments, lacking the power and authority of the central government, rely on a range of control methods, including direct political control. In respect of reporters outside their jurisdiction, they exert control either directly through violence or indirectly through what Chinese officialdom commonly refers to as “saying hello” - exerting pressure on officials from the reporters’ place of origin to bring the “offending” journalists into line (Quingian, 2004). The governments control of the local media is directed first of all at sources of information. American media scholar Melvin Mencher says “News sources are a journalist’s lifeblood. A journalist cannot do his job unless a news source tells him what happened.” The government therefore uses its power to control news sources and to restrict ordinary people from providing information to Chinese media and especially to foreign media (Quingian, 2004). Long years of suppression have given Chinese journalists a...
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