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Media Transparency in China

Rethinking Rhetoric and Reality

Baohui Xie - Foreword by Mobo Gao

This book argues that the gap between the official transparency rhetoric and the censorship reality has demonstrated the discrepancy between what the Party is and what it claims to be. Such a discrepancy is manifested by the reality that the reformed news industry, a hybrid of market-oriented commercialization and party-state control, has largely failed to deliver either the voice of the disenfranchised groups or the value of journalism. To observe the discrepancy, this book investigates the role of transparency in the Chinese news media. Media transparency, which goes beyond the issue of censorship and press freedom, has been undermined by the consensus reached between the party-state and the media on political and market control. It is this mutually accommodating and benefiting scheme between power and profits that has been hollowing out the substance of the transparency rhetoric and distorting the Marxist idea of press freedom as freedom for all. This book argues that the cause of such a gap between rhetoric and reality is rooted in the disjuncture of political representation of both the party-state and the profit-seeking media. « less more »
Lexington Books
Pages: 218Size: 6 x 9
978-0-7391-8326-7 • Hardback • August 2014 • $90.00 • (£60.00)
978-1-4985-0213-9 • Paperback • March 2017 • $42.99 • (£29.95)
978-0-7391-8327-4 • eBook • August 2014 • $39.99 • (£24.95)
Baohui Xie lectures at the Centre for Asian Studies at the University of Adelaide and is associate professor at Jiangxi Normal University.
Chapter 1: Press Freedom and Transparency in China
Chapter 2: Media Transparency
Chapter 3: Meta-Censorship
Chapter 4: Pandemic Media Corruption
Chapter 5: Marketisation and Conglomeration of State-owned Media
Chapter 6: “Opening a Skylight”
Chapter 7: Transparency Illusion and Disjuncture of Representation
This book is more than a study of contemporary Chinese media and should be of interest to anyone who cares about the general social and political developments of the country. The author goes beyond the usual discussion of censorship and authoritarianism. With revealing evidence and a careful examination of the working structure of the Chinese media, he argues convincingly that a discrepancy between reality and the Party/state's claim and a consequential 'disjuncture of political representation,' rather than 'media transparency,' should be the issue.
Zhang Shaoquan, Jiangxi Normal University

Why has the media boom in post-Mao China failed to lead to adequate media transparency? Why is censorship denied by both the Party-state and the mass media? What has resulted in the rampant media corruption hampering transparency? These are the main questions that Baohui Xie raises in this rich, engaging, and thought-provoking volume. The book makes a very important contribution to the effort to find a new framework for analyzing press freedom, or the lack of it, in the People’s Republic of China. It shifts the discussion away from individual freedom and assumptions of a state-versus-market dichotomy towards the substance of media transparency and supervision by public opinion. Instead of rejecting press freedom as a desirable value, it questions the ‘liberal market logic’ that simplistically attributes the lack of freedom to censorship and control by the Party-state. Xie argues vigorously and elegantly about the complicity of the Party-state and the media in jointly suppressing the voice of the disfranchised, especially the poor and disadvantaged social groups.

Whether one agrees with Xie’s argument or not, there can be no doubt that the book has the power to make one look at China’s mass media, state control, and a broad range of media issues differently. The book is remarkable in its unity and conceptual clarity. It will be of great value to scholars and students of China’s mediascape and media politics. A must-read of anyone attempting to understand the Chinese media’s adaptive strategies as they are caught between the state and market as well as the trajectories of change in state–media and market–media relations.

Yingjie Guo, University of Sydney