Propaganda Department of the Communist Party of China
|Propaganda Department of the Communist Party of China|
The Propaganda Department of the Communist Party of China, later officially called in English the Publicity Department, is an internal division of the Communist Party of China in charge of ideology-related work, as well as its propaganda system. It is not formally considered to be part of the Government of the People's Republic of China, but enforces media censorship and control in China, even though no state law explicitly gives it such authority.
It was founded in May 1924, and was suspended during the Cultural Revolution, until it was restored in October 1977. It is an important organ in China's propaganda system, and its inner operations are highly secretive. Its current head is Liu Qibao.
The Chinese word xuānchuán (宣传) means "to propagate" or propagandize or publicize information. Although sometimes translated as "propaganda", it does not have the negative connotations of the English word and is commonly used in phrases such as chǎnpǐn xuānchuán (product promotion). The Propaganda Department of the CPC engages in xuānchuán activities in a broad sense, not limited to political propaganda. For example, together with government agencies, the Propaganda Department is responsible for the publication of National Fire Safety Xuānchuán and Education Program (全民消防安全宣传教育纲要).
The Propaganda Department has a "direct leadership (lingdao - 领导)" role in the media control system, working with other organizations like the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television and the General Administration of Press and Publication. Its scope is to control licensing of media outlets, and to give instructions to the media on what is and what is not to be said, especially about certain "delicate" issues, like Taiwan, Tibet, etc., that can affect state security, or the rule of the Communist Party. Its central offices are located in an unmarked building near the Zhongnanhai at 5 West Chang'an Avenue, although the department has offices throughout the country at the provincial, municipal, and county level.
The editors-in-chief of China's major media outlets must attend the department's central office weekly to receive instructions on which stories should be emphasized, downplayed, or not reported at all. These instructions are not normally known to the public, but are communicated to media workers at the weekly meeting or via secret bulletins. However, since the rise of social networking tools such as Twitter, Propaganda Department instructions have been leaked to the internet. Examples include "All websites need to use bright red color to promote a celebratory atmosphere [of the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic]" and "negative reports... not exceed 30 per cent".
Such directives are considered imperative, and are enforced by disciplines within the Party, as all media in China are required to be loyal to the Party, and are to serve as propaganda organs for the Party in principle. Operational and reporting freedom has significantly increased in the Chinese media in the recent decade. However, open defiance against the Propaganda Department directives is rare, as dissenting media organizations risk severe punishment, including restructuring or closure. In 2000, a system of warnings was introduced for individual journalists, whereby repeat offenses can lead to dismissal. Chinese journalists disclosing Propaganda Department directives to foreign media may be charged with "divulging state secrets."
One important way the Propaganda Department ensures that the media system remains well controlled is by ensuring that the boundaries of acceptable reporting are kept "deliberately fuzzy" in an effort to ensure that "news workers self-censor to a critical degree."
Role in monitoring media personnel 
According by a report from the U.S. government-backed Freedom House, the Central Propaganda Department is the most important institution for monitoring media personnel and controlling the content of print and visual media.
The Central Propaganda Department was reported as playing a key role in monitoring editors and journalists through a national registration system. In 2003, the CPD, along with the GAPP and the SARFT, required Chinese journalists to attend nearly 50 hours of training on Marxism, the role of CCP leadership in the media, copyright law, libel law, national security law, regulations governing news content, and journalistic ethics prior to renewing press identification passes in 2003. The report states that media personnel are required to participate in "ideological training sessions", where they are evaluated for their "loyalty to the party." Further "political indoctrination" courses are said to occur at meetings and training retreats to study party political ideology, and the role of the media in "thought work".
It has been noted the CPD's monitoring system largely applies to news regarding politics and current affairs. 90 percent of China's newspapers consists of light stories regarding sport and entertainment, which are rarely regulated.
A 1977 directive on the re-establishment of the Central Propaganda Department reveals the structure and organization of the "extremely secretive" body, according to Brady. The directive states that the Department will be set up with one Director and several deputies, and the organizational structure will be set up with one office and five bureaus. The office is in charge of political, secretarial and administrative work, and the five bureaus are: the Bureau of Theory, Bureau of Propaganda and Education, Bureau of Arts and Culture, Bureau of News, and Bureau of Publishing. The directive states that the staff will be fixed at around 200 personnel, selected from propaganda apparatchiks across the country in consultation with the Central Organization Department.
The leadership of the Propaganda Department is selected with guidance from President Hu Jintao and the Politburo Standing Committee member responsible for the media, Li Changchun, while local branches of the Propaganda Department work with lower levels of the party-state hierarchy to transmit content priorities to the media.
New departments and offices were set up in 2004 to deal with the growing demands of information control in the modern era. One, the Bureau of Public Opinion, is in charge of commissioning public opinion surveys and other relevant research.
Heads of the Department 
- Li Da (1921–1922) as propaganda chief of the CPC Central Bureau
- Cai Hesen (1922–1923) as propaganda chief of the 2nd Central Executive Committee
- Luo Zhanglong (May 1924 – January 1925) as propaganda chief of the 3rd Central Executive Committee
- Peng Shuzhi (February 1925 - March 1927) as director of propaganda
- Cai Hesen (April 1927 – October 1927) as acting propaganda chief of the 5th Politburo
- Luo Qiyuan (November 1927 – June 1928)
- Cai Hesen (July 1928 – October 1928)
- Li Lisan (November 1928 – December 1930), as first head of the Central Propaganda Department
- Shen Zemin (January 1931 – April 1931)
- Zhang Wentian (April 1931 – December 1934)
- Wu Liangping (January 1935 – July 1937)
- Zhang Wentian (July 1937 – December 1942)
- Lu Dingyi (January 1943 – December 1952), as head of the "Central Propaganda Commission" from 1943 to 1945
- Xi Zhongxun (January 1953 – July 1954)
- Lu Dingyi (July 1954 – May 1966)
- Tao Zhu (May 1966 – January 1967)
- Wang Li (January 1967 – January 1968)
- Kang Sheng (November 1970 – December 1975), as head of the Central Organization and Propaganda Leading Group
- Yao Wenyuan (January 1976 – October 1976)
- Geng Biao (October 1976 – October 1977) as head of the Central Propaganda Group
- Zhang Pinghua (October 1977 – December 1978)
- Hu Yaobang (December 25, 1978 – March 12, 1980)
- Wang Renzhong (March 12, 1980 – April 1982)
- Deng Liqun (April 1982 – August 1985)
- Zhu Houze (August 1985 – February 1987)
- Wang Renzhi (February 1987 – December 1992)
- Ding Guangen (December 1992 – October 24, 2002)
- Liu Yunshan (October 24, 2002 – November 21, 2012)
- Liu Qibao (November 21, 2012 - present)
See also 
- Zhang Zhixin
- Internet in the PRC
- Propaganda in the People's Republic of China
- Media in the People's Republic of China
- Thought reform in the People's Republic of China
- Zhang, Xiaoling; Zheng, Yongnian (2009). China's Information and Communications Technology Revolution: Social Changes and State Responses. Taylor & Francis. p. 104. "The English translation has been changed to 'Publicity Department' but the Chinese term remains 'Propaganda Department'"
- Anne-Marie Brady, Marketing Dictatorship: Propaganda and Thought Work in Contemporary China. (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008), p13.
- Schiller, Bill. "Red China at 60: The Party Line", Toronto Star, Sept 27, 2009.
- Liu Qibao appointed head of CPC Publicity Department, Xinhua News Agency, November 21, 2012.
- Brady (2008), p 17.
- Jonathan Hassid, "Controlling the Chinese Media: An Uncertain Business." Asian Survey. 48(3), (May/June, 2008), 414-30, p415.
- Esarey, Ashley. "Speak No Evil: Mass Media Control in Contemporary China." Freedom House Special Report, February 2006
- David Shambaugh, China's Propaganda System: Institutions, Processes and Efficacy, "The China Journal", No. 57, p. 34.
- Propaganda Department in the News by China Digital Times.
- (Chinese) Website of the Propaganda Department