The Spirit of Control

Tomorrow will mark the one-week anniversary of President Xi Jinping’s “important speech” on information policy, in which he outlined his new vision of all-dimensional control of news and public opinion — what we will call Control 3. 0 — after visits to core Party media, including the People’s Daily, Xinhua News Agency and China Central Television.

Over the past three days, as a series of pieces in the People’s Daily and other Party media have offered muddy explications of Xi Jinping’s media policy, leaders and media at all levels across the country have leapt into action, pledging “earnest implementation.”

Earlier this week, the Party committee of Hunan Daily, the official mouthpiece of the top Party leadership in Hunan province, held a meeting to study the speech, and affirmed the need to, among other priorities, follow a policy of “emphasising positive propaganda” (正面宣传为主的方针).

In an editorial yesterday, Nanfang Daily, the official mouthpiece of the Party committee of Guangdong province, said that the most crucial aspect of the Party’s news and public opinion work under the “new situation” — a nod to larger domestic and international pressures as well as changes in the information sphere — was for the leaders of cultural and propaganda institutions to “be politically minded, have a strong Party spirit, have the courage to act, dare to innovate and maintain strict self-discipline.”

“Media sponsored by the Party and the government are propaganda positions of the Party and government,” said the newspaper. “They must be surnamed Party.”

The idea that the media must be “surnamed Party,” or bixu xingdang (必须姓党), appeared in Xi Jinping’s speech, and essentially draws an equivalence between the identity of the media and the identity of the Party. There must be no gaps in priorities or in actions.

We should bear in mind, however, that in his “important speech” Xi Jinping did not limit the notion of Party identity to media operated by the Party or government. He stated in no uncertain terms that all media, including commercially operating metro newspapers, new media, entertainment and advertising “must be surnamed Party.”

This is what we mean when we refer to Xi Jinping’s new information policy as a vision of “all-dimensional control” (全方位控制).

For those of you who aren’t yet heeding the call to make the Party central to your life and work, here is the latest in the People’s Daily. It reports a “Notice” from the Central Propaganda Department demanding implementation of the “spirit” of Xi Jinping’s speech by core Party media.

Central Propaganda Department Demands

Earnest Study and Implementation of the Spirit of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s Important Speech to the Party’s News and Public Opinion Work Conference

People’s Daily / February 25, 2016

Xinhua News Agency, Beijing, February 24 (Reporter Sun Tiexiang) — On February 24, the Central Propaganda Department issued a notice demanding that propaganda offices at various levels and principal central-level news units deeply study the spirit of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important speech made to the Party’s news and public opinion work conference; comprehensively and precisely grasping the fundamental spirit of the speech; rapidly driving forward a tide of study, propagation and implementation of the speech; conscientiously unifying thoughts and actions around the spirit of the speech; and striving to create a new situation in the Party’s news and public opinion work.

The Notice points out that General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important speech deeply elaborates the historical position and important function of the Party’s news and public opinion work from the strategic point of view of the overall undertakings of the Party and the government; fully affirms the achievements made on the front lines of news and public opinion; deeply elaborates the duties and responsibilities, objectives and principles of news and public opinion work; scientifically answers a series of fundamental, strategic and comprehensive important questions concerning the long-term development of news work; and raises a series of highly original new ideas, new concepts, new conclusions and new demands that amount to significant milestones. The study, propagation and implementation of the spirit of General Secretary Xi’s important speech is an important political task for the present and future period on the battlefront of propaganda and ideology. Those involved in propaganda and ideology work must earnestly study, vigorously propagate, firmly implement the spirit of the important speech, bringing their thoughts and actions in line.

The Notice demands the study and grasp of the spirit of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important speech, focussing on the basic and core meaning of the speech, deeply studying and grasping the Party’s status and role, responsibility and mission, direction and principles, tasks and demands and fundamental assurances in news and public opinion work. Those on the front lines of propaganda and ideology must spring into action, with detailed planning, with an attitude of high consciousness, with solid and strong measures, creating a dense atmosphere for the study of propaganda, and resulting in practical outcomes. Propaganda offices and news units at various levels must, with the spirit of the important speech as their guide, plan and push ahead with various priority tasks, [working] constantly to create a new situation for the Party’s news and public opinion work.

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