chapter  3
20 Pages

Chinese Journalism Since the Tragedy of Tiananmen

WithJudy Polumbaum

In mid-1991, two years after the Chinese government used troops, tanks, and terror to drive student protesters from Beijing's Tiananmen Square, it might seem tempting to fall back on totalitarian scenarios. The Chinese Communist Party has always relied on a combination of formal and informal mechanisms to direct and restrain the media, with ad hoc measures being more important than permanent, predictable rules. Chinese journalism under communism has been a peculiar amalgam of the old and the new, an uneasy blend whose ingredients often contradict each other. Chinese journalists and journalism students also got ideas from eagerly welcomed American, British, and Australian journalism educators and publication advisers, and from widely disseminated translations of foreign journalism textbooks and lectures. Chinese press controls up to mid-1989 could be described as informal, flexible, and largely uninstitutionalized, with the manner and severity of their exercise dependent largely on time, place, political winds, and personalities.