China’s Communist Party made moves last month to solidify and formalize its (already substantial) control over the country’s media. China’s main state-run broadcasters are to be consolidated into a massive new “Voice of China” under the management of the Party’s Central Propaganda Department. The department—which, several years ago, the Party began calling its “publicity department” in English—will also now have direct control over the regulation of film, radio, television, book publishing, Internet, and the news media, rather than exercising that control in part through government (as opposed to Party) organs charged with the same mission. What will this change achieve practically? Why is it happening? Is it the result of confidence on the part of China’s leaders, or paranoia? And how is formalizing the Party’s role as chief censor likely to effect the Chinese leadership’s reputation at home and overseas?
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