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ANALYSIS: China’s Party Congress Hints at Media Strategy for a ‘New Era’

The leadership stresses party dominance, innovative propaganda, cultural influence, and globalization of its governance model.

By Sarah Cook

Photo caption: A screenshot of Chinese television stations showing Xi Jinping’s speech to the 19th Party Congress on October 18. Only one satellite station, in Xiamen, aired its regularly scheduled programming, a cartoon featuring a shark. Credit: China Digital Times

Since the 19th Party Congress unfolded in Beijing last month, observers have closely examined various aspects of Xi Jinping’s lengthy speech, the new members of the Politburo Standing Committee, and the extraordinary security measures put in place for the event. Far less attention has been paid to the congress’s implications for media policy.

Xi’s remarks, related changes to the party constitution, and key personnel decisions reveal a number of notable shifts that could have a profound impact on how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) manages its massive censorship and propaganda apparatus.

Four developments at the congress stand out for their departure from precedent:

  1. Priority given to ‘the party’s leadership’ and Xi himself: The phrase “the party’s leadership” appeared 16 times in Xi’s speech. As noted by the China Media Project, this figure was last matched at the 13th Party Congress in 1987. No other party congress has featured a higher number of such references, though Xi’s speech was uncharacteristically long. Changes to the party constitution also reflected Xi’s status as a…

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