Name: Kristin McConaughy
The early days of mass communication were radios, rallies, and newspapers, etc. These sources are used by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to influence the masses (Cell, 1983; Godwin. C Chu, 1977). Culture is one crucial factor that powerfully controls the media, unlike other countries. It is an intangible driving of media sources in China. In China, culture may play a more prominent role than in other countries.
Cultural Force is the sixth force driving media. Over long years of societal development, the Chinese had created a strong culture and tradition, which has their specific moral codes and norms. The Chinese love their ideology and firmly follow them. China echoes a social system where people work for something other than themselves. It was about working not individually but collectively for their country, for their factory, and all the people.
Chinese communists were well aware of the power of mass communications. The first edition of People’s Daily started on June 15, 1948, in the liberated Northern China (Robinson, 2006), where Deng Xiaoping was leading the revolution. Another Guangming Daily, a more intellect newspaper, began in 1949. The Beijing Daily, the municipal party organ, started publishing in 1952. Soviet Union was the image that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) imitated to follow their communication steps and build up a socialist state (Robinson, 2006).
They intensified this process by various other communication sources like drama, street demonstrations, and posters (Sheng, 1990). Mao Zedong played thoughtfully with the mass media tools. The first is to propagate the plans and policies for the masses. Second, to educate the masses, third is to unite the groups, and fourth is to mobilize the masses. It worked as interpersonal communication.
This system operated well because when the government installed radio transmitters, practically there were no receiving sets in Chinese cities. The situation was even worse in China countryside. All paper production was low in China because good pulpwood was not grown in China, and there was zero literacy in the villages. Thus the communication system propagated in other mediums like posters, banners, statues, and rallies (Cell, 1983).
The emergence of Mao Zedong (1966-1976)
At the time of the emergence of Mao Zedong in 1966, there were large posters on the streets, hospitals, community meeting rooms, and all those places where people gathered every day and even homes. These were the ten years of chaos, led by Mao Zedong as the “Cultural Revolution” (Cell, 1983; Godwin. C Chu, 1977; Joseph, 2003). He started this movement under the Soviet Union’s influence, which had prioritized Capitalism over Socialism (Joseph, 2003).
Except for the initial year of the 1966-1968 periods, it was a brutal period that killed some 1.5 million people. The images like “kill the Class enemy” or “upheld the great red banner of Mao Zedong’s thoughts” everywhere. They were displayed from classrooms to clinics to government offices (Joseph, 2003). That era was very chaotic; some people praised it; some condemned it. However, it remains an incomprehensible, complex series of events.
An illegal immigrant from China to Hong Kong disclosed, “one has to go through The People’s Daily in order to know what is safe to say.” That era was that furiously propagated on tormented and violent principles. Mao promoted his motive to end the four olds of old culture, old customs, old habits, and ancient beliefs (Joseph, 2003).
Along with other radicals, including his wife, Jiang Qing, and Defence Minister Lin Biao, Mao attacked the current party leadership and forcefully asserted his authority. Mao fought to recapture his prestige, which he had lost in the 1960s because of the failed economic policies (Joseph, 2003; Li & Wu, 2020). After grabbing the power, he shut down the schools; this had a detrimental impact in China as young people in China came out supporting Mao Zedong (Sheng, 1990).
Students formed a paramilitary group, which was mainly a terrorist organization which came to be known as Red Guards. They acted as a cover for Mao, which functioned in attacking, harassing, and even murdering Mao’s political opponents (Joseph, 2003; Li & Wu, 2020).
During the early days of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1968), they beat and tortured Liu; later, he died in prison in 1969. The Red Guard, which primarily acted as a terrorist organization, dominated the Chinese cities, leading to fascist rule by September 1967. Amid all these chaos, the Chinese economy plunged by 12 percent as it was in 1966. In 1971, Mao’s ally Defence Minister Lin died in a plane crash in Mongolia, and subsequently, Zhou Enlai took over greater control of the government.
Cultural Revolution End
Zhou acted to revive the political set up by restoring positions of numerous leaders at their former jobs. He reopened the educational system. However, in 1972 Mao suffered a stroke, and Zhou was diagnosed with cancer in the same year. Both these leaders Mao and Zhou supported Deng Xiaoping; this had evoked opposition from the more Radical Jiang and her Allies, who later called it Gang of Four.
In the next four years, the Chinese political muscle wobbled between these two groups. However, after the death of Zhou in 1976, the radicals finally convinced Mao to purge Deng. However, after Mao died in September, the police and military coalition sacked the Gang of Four. Deng reclaimed power in 1977 and controlled the Chinese government for the next twenty years (Schoenhals, 2015).
In reality, the Cultural Revolution was an “anti-culture revolution,” for it did more to destroy the old culture than to reform a new one. Red Guards used historical resemblances and stories to attack present-day officials and criticize almost all books, novels, plays, and essays. Mao had shattered the trust of his people in the Chinese government.
The Deng Era 1978–1989 (20 years)
Only a few songs and plays were composed to celebrate his triumphs. Deng never even became chairman of the party or premier. Though he learned about his policies, students could cite his best-known sayings, but they did not spend time memorizing his quotations from the writings.
When Deng returned to work in mid-1977, he worked with Marshal Ye Jian-Ying and other senior officials to lay the groundwork for modernizing China’s military. However, a year later, this effort was scarcely postponed when Deng concluded that China’s national security was under serious threat. The country had to begin immediate preparations for military action in Vietnam.
When the war with Vietnam ended in March 1979, Deng judged that the risk of imminent military conflict was sufficiently low. He could continue to hold off on large-scale investments in modern military hardware and concentrate instead on the civilian economy (Robinson, 2006).
The government laid an effort to coordinate billion people (Cell, 1983). The development of the masses was the main motive of the CCP. The party promotes the broadcasting of classes on various subjects. The government and local bodies published books and concentrated on study material. The authorities also issued know-how and how-to-do material from sericulture to horticulture.
Development of International Communication
Although the Chinese people are wary of imported ideas, they had given exposure to the world. Surprisingly they had taken several steps to let the people see how China compares to the rest of the world, which is not always favorable. Each night, the news is broadcasted by the west uncensored, although the announcer is Chinese. China opens its people to know about the world. News coverage had been a lot since the Gang of Four.
The most crucial government policy was the policy declared on population control. The first official announcement stated that it is compulsory for at least one of each couple with two children or more. A significant objective of communication was to keep officials aware of what was happening with the people (Cell, 1983).
By 1980, one-third of the Beijing families owned individual personal television sets. Most industrial setups, plant workshops, and agricultural production brigades have TV sets for group viewing. People in factories and communes said they watch TV every night for several hours. During the Gang of Four trial, the average watch time had increased from forty minutes to two hours (Robinson, 2006).
The Chinese government used Television sets as a medium in ‘cementing ties between productions and marketing’ and ‘activating the market.’ They used TV as a catalyst in broadcasting knowledge about various commodities and arousing potential interest in consumerism. It rapidly educated the masses about available goods and services worldwide (Robinson, 2006). It increased awareness and education of groups; time had come when The People’s Daily released a biweekly newspaper called ‘Market.’
This edition was primarily published to promote a sense of consumerism. It had a complete demand among the public; by June 1980, it had a circulation of one million, which got instantly sold out at newsstands. Deng also worked on “free press,” which was contrary to Mao’s ideology.
Some other journalists studied for a Master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Missouri School Of Journalism in the summer of 1980 (Robinson, 2006). The Director of the Central Broadcasting Administration spent three months in the US in learning US television technology and programming. From 1978 China had ambitiously debated how to build a new social structure.
Once a “stable government” is achieved, Deng had insisted on establishing government offices to carry out better society activities as a whole. Consequently, in his trip to Japan in October 1978, Deng sought Japanese cooperation in resisting Soviet-Vietnamese expansion. However, he also knew that no country, except the United States, could help its modernization.
The most crucial noteworthy change in Chinese media has been eliminating traditional provincialism, which regarded China as the center of the world that is the “middle kingdom.” There was a difference between heaven and earth between the philosophies of Mao and Deng. Mao believed in self-reliance and close set up; Deng’s policies depend upon China’s entrance into the global market.
Cell, C. . (1983). Communication in China’s mass mobilization campaigns. In G.C. Chu (Ed.), China’s new social fabric (pp. 25–46). Melbourne: Australia: Kegan Paul International.
Chu, Godwin. C. (1977). Radical change through communication in Mao’s China. Honolulu: University Press of Hawaii.
Joseph, W. A. (2003). China’s Cultural Revolution: A Brief Overview. Retrieved June 1, 2020, from http://academics.wellesley.edu/Polisci/wj/China1972/brief-intro.html
Li, Q., & Wu, Y. (2020). Intangible capital, ICT, and sector growth in China. Telecommunications Policy, 44(1), 101854. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.telpol.2019.101854
Robinson, D. C. (2006). Changing Functions of Mass Media in the People’s Republic of China. Journal of Communication, 31(4), 58–73. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.1981.tb00451.x
Schoenhals, M. (2015). China’s “Great Proletarian Information Revolution” of 1966-1967 (J. Brown & M. Johnson, Eds.). https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.4159/9780674287211-009
Sheng, H. (1990). Big Character Posters in China: a Historical Survey. Journal of Chinese Law, 4(2), 234–256.