China’s Thought Management

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China's Thought Management (Routledge Studies on China in Transition)
Edited by Anne-Marie Brady
Routledge, 2011
224 pp. $125.00
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Looking beneath the superficial diversity of Chinese media, Brady and her contributors expose the continuing role of the Chinese Communist Party’s Propaganda Department, officially renamed in English the Publicity Department in 1998. A softer style -- “market-friendly, scientific, high tech, and politics lite” -- has replaced Maoist indoctrination. But the news is still controlled: scandals are spun and quickly buried, and feel-good symbols of progress are eagerly promoted. Officials in government and the military memorize carefully crafted formulas that help them stay in line with party policy, and the general public imbibes a steady flow of happy talk that keeps it disengaged from politics. Case studies show how modern persuasion techniques maintain the high level of public support for the government, the ruling party’s firm grip on the military, and the popularity of the current system even among Chinese émigrés. But the party has enjoyed less success in rebranding China internationally as modern and even democratic. Focusing on top-down propaganda strategies, the book does not assess the possible threats posed to thought management by the growing Chinese blogosphere or the emerging cadre of intrepid, truth-seeking Chinese journalists.

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