On February 19 Xi Jinping made a high-profile visit to China’s three major news outlets, Xinhua News Agency, China Network Television and People’s Daily. During his tour, Xi laid out his vision for the future of the Chinese media industry. And this vision is: journalists must do what the Party says.
Xi ordered state- and Party-owned media to strictly follow the Party’s leadership and focus on “positive reporting“. They must work “to speak for the Party’s will and its propositions and protect the Party’s authority and unity”. They must act as their “publicity fronts”.
They must align “their ideology, political thinking and deeds to those of the … Central Committee [of the Chinese Communist Party] and help fashion the Party’s theories and policies into conscious action by the general public while providing spiritual enrichment to the people”.
Xi stressed that a “Marxist journalistic education” must be promoted among journalists, so that they can become “disseminators of the Party’s policies and propositions, recorders of the time, promoters of social advancement and watchers of equality and justice.”
Since assuming the leadership of the Party in 2012, Xi has launched a series of crackdowns on free speech. Bloggers have been detained for crimes such as “rumour-mongering”. Netizens have been prosecuted for expressing their political views. Activists like Uighur scholar Ilham Tohti have been jailed. Foreign journalists have been denied visas.
Freedom of speech is also suffering in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Numerous attacks on critical journalists as well as the case of the missing booksellers seem to demonstrate the ever increasing influence of the Communist Party in the former British colony.