China’s top party mouthpieces pledge ‘absolute loyalty’ as president makes rare visits to newsrooms
Xi Jinping visits People’s Daily, CCTV and Xinhua, exhorting them to embody the will of the Communist Party
Entertainment, social and international news should be edited in the “right direction”, just like domestic news, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Friday as he told state media and tabloids to alike to uphold the Communist Party leadership.
Party-owned media should put political awareness first and let “positive propaganda” be the majority of the public voice, Xi told heads and veteran journalists from media outfits including People’s Daily, CCTV and Xinhua.
The talk came amid a subtle but steady propaganda campaign to promote Xi as the core of the leadership and pushing senior officials across the country to declare their “absolute loyalty”.
“Party-owned media must hold the family name of the party,” Xi said. “They must embody the party’s will, safeguard the party’s authority … their actions must be highly consistent with the party.”
Xi demanded all news reporting and commentaries should follow the “right direction” – from party mouthpieces to commercial tabloids and online media. And that applied to all sections of media coverage – news, supplements, special programmes, advertisement and entertainment news, Xinhua quoted Xi as saying. He also tasked party-run media outlets to beef up their international influence and to build an “external propaganda flagship media”.
Earlier that day Xi, accompanied by his Politburo Standing Committee colleague Liu Yunshan, the party’s ideological tsar who oversees the propaganda apparatus, made a rare tour of People’s Daily, CCTV and Xinhua.
He sent a recorded voice message, one that welcomes the coming Lantern Festival, to the Daily’s WeChat and Weibo social media platforms and also its news app.
At about noon, Xi sat in the presenter’s chair on the set of Xinwen Lianbo, the country’s main, nightly newscast. But it was a greeting that flashed on a screen during his visit to the TV station that went viral. The message read: “CCTV’s surname is ‘The Party’. [We are] absolutely loyal. Ready for your inspection” .
The tour came almost two months after Xi visited the PLA Daily in December and demanded absolute loyalty to the party shortly before the announcement of a sweeping military reform.
“The tour shows Xi attaches great importance to propaganda and he is urging the state and party-owned media to play a bigger role,” said Gu Su, a political philosophy professor at Nanjing University.
“The party is exerting stricter control over media and they will play more roles in spreading ideological thoughts, party policies and party approved mainstream values.”
He said there was also a possibility that Xi was not happy with the propaganda work so far and demanded a change, as shown by personnel reshuffles of senior officials in charge of propaganda machines last year.