How China manipulates the media

The freedom of communication introduced by the internet was supposed to sound the death knell for state censorship. But authoritarian regimes still manage to control the message and how liberal digital media remains compromised. In the first of four articles, we look at how China continues to keep journalists on a short lead.

The World Today Updated 14 December 2020 Published 31 July 2015 4 minute READ

Vincent Ni

China Affairs Correspondent, The Guardian

Before finishing a journalism fellowship at Stanford University in the mid-1990s, Hu Shuli, then an international editor of a state-owned Chinese newspaper, was thinking about her future. There were suggestions that she should get a job in the United States, but Hu insisted on returning to China.

Her university mentor said: ‘Shuli, I respect your decision to go back to China, but it will be very hard for you. Chinese journalism will never be part of the mainstream of international journalism.’

Hu came back to China at a time when its economy was being transformed. The media sector – once fully controlled and subsidized by the state – was changing and commercial media were being encouraged.

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