Mao’s revolution, which started in 1949, brought to China a new political discourse: Marxist Communism. Since Marxist Communism was created for industrialized areas, Mao’s system had to be applied it in a different way, since China was huge, ethnically diverse and rural. Industrial areas were not big enough to develop a Communist strategy, so idealism of what a Communist system could be was the option. Something they deeply applied of the Communist ideology was to have an authoritarian system. That was not difficult, because of the millenarian authoritarian structures of governance China always had, it was part of their tradition. At the time, due to the ethnical diversity and the totalitarian power system, China always lived with social revolts (Hong Kong, Laos, Tibet, etc.). The system, in fact, understood these oppositions as something healthy, since it gave an image of plurality and negotiation, even if everything was smashed by the Government. The acceptance of opposition is a practice that it could be seen in other authoritarian systems, as Turkey had too. However, oppositional groups and revolts were never allowed in media. Censorship was very high.
When I read the article “How censorship in China allows government Criticism but silences collective expression” it was shocking to me that the government allowed criticism against them and the system, but they chased dissidence of popular expression. After reading the Zhao´s article, I started to understand. The censor mechanisms were accepting complaints, or even government critiques, as King et al. named as the discontent communities’ small protests, because of the tradition of having ethnic’s claims. Anyway, the Communist vision is that the system is the thing to protect, since it is the space for the human being to well develop, to threats are not accepted if they are against the system. So even if the King, Pan and Roberts affirm that what is chased is popular expression, critiques to the government, that is, to the system, are also controlled.
Class struggle was one of the bases of the ideology applied by Mao, empowering the worker class and fighting for the end of the wealthy class. The leader idealized the rural areas as the ones where the essence of the revolution had to flourish. The worker class, especially the farmers, where understood as the key point of the revolution, according to the discourse. However, China had an oligarchy, which lived far away of the systemic restrictions of the rest of the population. Media was extremely controlled, basically used for the Government’s propaganda.
Spreading industrialization, China started to see the birth of the middle class after Mao’s revolution. This fact was not well accepted by the oligarchy, since they knew a middle-class would break the dichotomy upper-working class, allowing a powerful space to a new group. For that reason, post-Mao’s system started with the Cultural Revolutions, trying to control any power and production (also intellectual and media) from the new arising middle-class.
In 21st Century China, things were still more complicated. With a long tradition of social isolation, China decided to expand economically. They continued using the Communist discourse inside the territory (that I have already said it was not a Communist system itself), and accepted to play the game of New Liberalism economic strategies outside the land. The State could not control the growth of middle-class anymore, and the differences among rural and urban population, and working – middle- upper classes were more obvious.
Zhao affirms that early revolution discourse defended the class struggle, but it evolved to a discourse with the disappearance of classes. This was the consequence of the political dichotomy moved: China needed to mutate the discourse for dealing with the new foreign policies. Also, Zhao reflects about the lack of critique to what middle-class is, since the upper classes have strongly increased their wealth. Even though, the discourse nowadays is just about the consumption and lifestyle of middle-class, since it is the one that has been newly empowered. Anyway, China is hugely struggling in leading with its social inequality, since it is more and more obvious for its population inside the country. Therefore, the part of the society that could try to revolt because of inequality is the lower class. For that reason, Government control over media is directed to the working rural class, and the middle-class, even if censorship is there, are freer to use media, as Zhao explains. Media, then, is having a new sphere in China´s ideology. Since media is control by the system, media controls consumerism and identity class new stage, so media is conveying the class struggle.
I recall this female middle-class journalist that started a radio program inspired in Western media. She decided to open the lines for people to call her and to explain her things about their lives. The journalist did not expect what happened. Rural people was calling to denounce injustices, as rapes and kidnaps of young women by mature man with more wealth, misery and hunger from farmers, etc. The journalist could not stand passive to the new China that she was discovering, the rural poor one, and started to be an activist of human rights. One year after her program, she moved to the US as a political refugee, since she was in danger because of the Government forces.
This is a good example on how the control of media is still remarkable nowadays, with the application of several types of censorship. King, Pan and Roberts develop an article about the ways China´s Government is applying it, having even a predictive censorship behavior for the future. Their article expose censorship, as the Great Firewall of China, that disallows entire websites, keyword blocking, that stop the use of banned words and other highly professional methods for censorship, that requires lots of State effort. Custer talks about another method, the used of Black PR, an underground Internet industry that acts illegally. Black PR deletes posts to avoid negative news, and “to replace them for soft ads and hit pieces to attack competitors”. Applying non ethical tactics, they make a notable profit, in conjunction with corrupt companies and police.
To conclude, when Mao´s, people used to think that you could have everything if justice and truth were with you, but China is promoting now that is money is what allowed you to have everything, even if this is against the current national discourse. Even the Government is a source of contradictions; it does not allow media to bring them up, since it is expected to create social revolt. Knowing about the objectives of the Chinese media censor system, how could the Chinese media bring up a real discussion about the national contradictions?
Knowing about the objectives of the Chinese media censor system, how could the Chinese media bring up a real discussion about the national contradictions?