Media to polish Jiang's image for congress
Vivien Pik-Kwan Chan
Beijing has launched a massive propaganda blitz singing the praises of President Jiang Zemin in the run-up to the 16th Party Congress and lauding the importance of stability and unity.
The campaign began with a three-day national conference from Monday attended by Mr Jiang, Vice-President Hu Jintao, propaganda chiefs from all provinces and relevant ministries and bosses of major media organisations.
To counter criticism of widespread corruption and massive unemployment, Mr Jiang told the conference the state propaganda machine should bolster public confidence in the Communist Party.
He said the party must also be seen as the right body to represent advanced production forces, the most advanced culture and the interests of the masses, as stipulated in his 'Theory of the Three Representatives'.
The theory will be written into the party constitution at the 16th Party Congress starting on November 8.
In the face of a widening wealth gap and massive layoffs, Central Publicity Department chief Ding Guangen urged his journalists to be more practical and defend the under-privileged.
'State media should do more to stabilise the public's morale, especially in caring for the impoverished masses and reflecting their difficulties,' Mr Ding said.
But the media were told to avoid reporting on protests by disgruntled workers and unrest caused by displaced peasants, while strengthening reporting on the re-employment of laid-off workers and the production safety campaign.
The propaganda campaign will focus on praising Mr Jiang and his speeches outlining the theory. It also will stress the rejuvenation of the party, socialism and the achievements of China's reform - including the introduction of free education in rural villages.
'We must speed up propaganda to boost cadres' and the public's sense of urgency, sense of mission and sense of responsibility in pushing ahead development of the economy, national defence and social solidarity,' Mr Ding said.
Mr Jiang called for the creation of a 'sound atmosphere' ahead of the congress. State media bosses were ordered not to report on 'noises', or conflicting views, within the party.
A strict order was issued banning reports on all classified material. State media were asked to use only articles by Xinhua, the People's Daily and the party's Qiushi (Seeking Truth) magazine on sensitive issues.
Media workers were warned of severe penalties for leaking state secrets.
They were asked to exercise great caution when reporting on laid-off workers and other sensitive subjects to avoid further splitting society.
They also were told to base reports on the experiences of different provinces and not just focus on regions close to Beijing.
The media were warned against 'providing a venue for wrong views' and told they would be closed if they published any articles contradicting the central spirit of the party.