From Blind Spot to Media Spotlight: Propaganda Policy, Media Activism and the Emergence of Protest Events in the Chinese Public Sphere
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AbstractIn recent years, popular protest in China has emerged from a state of near-invisibility. Drawing on a diachronic analysis of news media coverage, this paper traces how a number of major protest events gradually entered the Chinese media's spotlight and came to be portrayed in an increasingly protester-sympathising fashion over the course of the Hu-Wen administration. It argues that these changes were triggered by structural transformations of the Chinese public sphere, but underlines that deliberate policy choices by the political leadership served as a crucial agent of change. Facing proliferating unrest and an increasingly unimpeded flow of information, the central authorities have gradually shifted propaganda policy from a suppressive to a more proactive approach. They have thereby created critical opportunities for Internet users and investigative journalists to push the envelope further towards protester-sympathising accounts. The development is significant as there are good reasons to surmise that increased media coverage has exacerbated the dynamics of popular contention. Theoretically, it deserves to be noted that non-inevitable choices by an authoritarian leadership have led to an outcome in which media coverage of citizens who challenge the state on the streets has become substantially more frequent and positive than before.
All Author(s) ListSteinhardt HC
Journal nameAsian Studies Review
Volume Number39
Issue Number1
Pages119 - 137
LanguagesEnglish-United Kingdom
Keywordscensorship; China; contentious politics; Internet; media; popular protest; propaganda; public sphere
Web of Science Subject CategoriesArea Studies; Asian Studies; Cultural Studies

Last updated on 2020-20-09 at 01:41