Beijing’s Propaganda Crisis (RELS 348)

In this news article author Murong Xuecun gives a commentary about a previous television news report describing the city Dongguon in China as the capital of sin, for having a continued and now flourishing sex industry. According to Murong the broadcast was not to inform the citizens of the problem, but was actually a planned attack for a future break down on workers and establishments by the government. The days following the government crackdown on workers was met with online attackers scolding the Chinese Central Television (CCTV) network and their reporters for not helping the sex slaves, but instead helping the government further oppress the victims. Murong agreed with the online advocates that CCTV should not be trusted and government propaganda needs to be stopped. The Beijing communist party has been able to continue its rule through continuing to attain the necessary financial means resulting in using the power derived from those means to send their messages through media outlets. The propaganda used, has not only been used to promote the greatness of the government but also to give the normalization of strict traditional moral rules; continuing traditional values and expectations of prudent action and thought. Murong reminisced past thoughts how CCTV and other government owned newspapers had an over cast of a trusting atmosphere to their viewers. When CCTV would praise socialism or other government desirable plans, there was an overall covenant between the listeners; instilling the governments powerful control over its citizens. No one would question the government or the sources used. With the rise of the internet there has been an increased building of new knowledge and understandings of the outside world; contributing to new movements for equality among classes etc. Murong soon lost trust in CCTV after being exposed to new news sources and was able to develop a modern way of thinking. Although, there is still a belief today that the other non-governed news sources are controlled by hostile powers. There has been an increased discontinuance of believing everything the government puts out in the media outlets to be true. Murong finds although we cannot control what the propaganda put out by the government, people can control whether or not what they view or hear in the propaganda is true.

This article is a good indicator, as discussed in class, to look at the primary and secondary sources of the propaganda; who wrote what, how truthful is the source in the first place, what are the underlying factors etc. I believe the underlying sources are clearly a result of the powerful government officials using trusted news outlets to relay their messages and desires across to the awaiting public. As discussed in class, although everyone has their own biases and ways of thinking, I believe people will not build upon their own knowledge when there has only been one way of thinking. One would not know any other way of thinking, if they have never been accustomed to such. I believe with the increased usage of the internet in Beijing, or other Global South countries, this will allow for future generations to help change how the country functions. I agree with Murong how the increase usage of outside sources (internet, non-governed news, blogs) has aided in the way people make sense of their world. As being limited to knowledge and information would not allow one to grow in their thought process. People would be stuck in a standard way of thinking, never being able to expand. This can be seen by Foucault’s belief that news sources of power are acquired by new knowledge. This is exactly what the internet has done, I believe it opens people’s minds to new thoughts.

As discussed in class, since the beginning of the Empire era the use of propaganda to promote the continued importance of the empires rule was used through displays, creation of buildings and other celebrations which would impress the less civilized, promoting followers. CCTV was said to promote moral virtues, this can be seen as traditional behaviour norms form social customs. Having long established customs are normalized into the culture as the right thing (Irwin, 2006, p.13). This continues the anti-activism to promote change and continue the cultures looking down upon new ways of thought. The imperial rule in China is one of dominance through an authoritative and controlling rule where the officials reinforce traditional beliefs and scold modernization. The rule of China started with the dynasties, particularly, to this writer the Han Wudi Dynasty as it was a centralized government that regulated food prices. I believe this is the first instance of how powerful the control of the government was and how it has been able to commence. I believe China still has the Confucius way of thinking that elders should rule etc., but with advanced technology the younger generations could rule a better country by promoting equality and new beliefs. However, this can only be done if there is an increased access to the outside world. When Murong explained how although we cannot control what is said in the media, but the listeners make their own inquiries, I believe this is a huge step in the right direction of change, showing Murong’s realism of the fact. As one cannot make change in a day, it takes time (McMillan, 1999). Murong seems aware that there will always be falseness in the media, but understands no one needs to listen to the falseness. From believing everything when the CCTV was the only news source and very authoritative, to having the internet open new news sources to provide and connect information to the people to help build their own assumptions.

One piece of poetry can start a revolution, but nothing is able to happen when the control of the system is great. Revolutions are said to be only popular among the groups who have more knowledge than the average citizen, believing in the debunking of messages by the government officials (McMillan, 1999). I agree that newer generations which are able to look at past texts and see the downfalls in the traditional eras will progress for the better. However this can only be done with a revolution of more freedom of the oppressed people to want new insights. This can only be done if they have a taste of a different culture, ways of thinking etc. With the continued internet oppression by the Chinese government, there will be a continued activism by others to push for change, resulting in a weaker government and a rise by the oppressed to act on and reinforce a new way of thinking.

Overall, I agree with Murong’s article which promotes the debunking of government propaganda and to not trust everything one hears from the powerful elite. With an increased awareness that there is other ways of going about a situation, people are able to create their own thought processes and develop new ways of handling things. The increased advancement of the internet has promoted change and new thoughts. There is now a belief the government is not the all mighty and there is a chance for every class to rise above and control their lives.

References:

Irwin, R. 2006. For the lust of knowing. The orientslists and their enemies. London, England: Penguin Group.

McMillan,S.(Interview by). 1999. A conversation with Nawal el Saadawi. Retreved February 20, 2015 from: http://www.minimumsecurity.net/aboutme/writing/nes.htm

Xuecun, M. 2014. Beijing’s propaganda crisis”, International New York Times, retrieved February 20, 2015 from http://www.iht.com/2014/03/17/beijings-propaganda-crisis/

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