Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Monday, December 23, 2013

Inside Chinese politics

Arguing in favor of implementing a nation-state's constitution wouldn't seem to be a controversial position. The people in power in China know better.

Last summer and fall, the country prepared for the installation of new top leaders and the Communist Party cracked down on Bo Xilai and his "left-wing" Chongqing system promoting Mao-style Communist values. Bo and others argued for full implementation of the PRC's constitution, which contains many elements of idealistic Communism.

Since Bo's conviction and jailing, some journalists have continued to argue for "constitutionalism." Most of them are in jail themselves.

Now comes the re-education. And it doesn't involve learning to serve the people or protecting political rights.

Chinese journalists face Marxist ideology exam
Chinese journalists will have to pass a new ideology exam early next year to keep their press cards, in what reporters say is another example of the ruling Communist party's increasing control over the media under President Xi Jinping.

It is the first time reporters have been required to take such a test en masse… The exam will be based on a 700-page manual peppered with directives such as "it is absolutely not permitted for published reports to feature any comments that go against the party line", and "the relationship between the party and the news media is one of leader and the led"…

China has also intensified efforts to curb the work of foreign news organisations. The New York Times Company and Bloomberg News have not been given new journalist visas for more than a year after they published stories about the wealth of relatives of the former premier Wen Jiabao and Xi…

Traditionally, Chinese state media has been the key vehicle for party propaganda. But reforms over the past decade that have allowed greater media commercialisation and limited increases in editorial independence, combined with the rise of social media, have weakened government control, according to academics…

Journalists will have to do a minimum 18 hours of training on topics including Marxist news values and socialism with Chinese characteristics, as well as journalism ethics, before sitting the exam in January or February. Reporters who fail the test will have to resit the exam and undergo the training again. It is not clear what happens to reporters who refuse to take it…

Reporters had little doubt about the aim of the exam. "The purpose of this kind of control is just to wear you down, to make you feel like political control is inescapable," said a reporter for a newspaper in the booming southern city of Guangzhou.

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