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198 China Review International: Vol. 4, No. 1, Spring 1997 Chin-Chuan Lee, editor. China's Media, Media's China. Boulder, Colorado : Westview Press, 1994. ix, 340 pp. Hardcover $59.95, isbn 0-81338800 -7. This edited volume, as its tide indicates, is a two-part project. The first part is an examination ofhow the media is manipulated to help the Chinese Communist Party to continue its monopoly ofpower over both state and society and to legitimate the Party's existence. The second part reviews the role of the American media in helping an American audience make sense ofchanges in China. The reader is also introduced to changes that have taken place in fhe Hong Kong and Taiwan media in fhe 1980s. How are the media in China made to function? Merle Goldman, focusing on the pivotal role ofthe media in shaping Chinese politics (p. 24), points to a direct relationship between factional struggles within the top echelon of the Party and the media's representation ofchange and the direction in which it is headed. During the Deng Xiaoping era until the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989, the media sided with fhe reformers. Lu Keng, in his personal account ofthe struggle by Chinese journalists for freedom ofthe press both before and after 1949, offers this observation: those who hold power in China have traditionally used the press to enrich their knowledge ofsocietywhile denying the public the same privilege. Lu holds onto the hope, however, that the electronic age wül shatter China's traditional totalitarian grip on its press. Marlowe Hood, South China Morning Post Beijing bureau chiefduring the 1980s (the exact year is not specified), tells how foreign journalists were manipulated by the Chinese leadership as a way to maintain public order, providing yet another example ofhow the struggles among political factions affected the ability offoreign journalists to do objective reporting on China. Dealing with the same question, Judy Polumbaum introduces us to changes in fhe bureaucratization ofnews collecting, processing, and presentation by fhe Chinese government since the late 1970s. Simüar to what happened to the controls on economic activity in China, centralized control offhe press broke down under the pressure ofreform in the 1980s (p. 125), but the 1990s have seen a proliferation ofnew, formal administrative controls in the Party's search for predictab üity. Such a reversal, in Polumbaum's view, will make it impossible for fhe Party to adapt to social change.© 1997 by UniversityAn understanding of Leninist ideology is identified by Su Shaozhi, Lowell ofHawai'i PressDittmer, and Edward Friedman as a key to understanding the Chinese regime's handling ofits media. Su offers yet another insider's account ofhow the truth of aufhority in China replaces the authority of trufh (p. 84). Friedman documents Reviews 199 how the Chinese public manages to decode propaganda provided by the statecontrolled media, and he concludes that the Party's efforts to shore up patriotism by gauging the public's understanding ofChinese foreign policy have only succeeded in making the public cynical and turning it against the regime. On the other hand, Friedman cautions, such decoding does not necessarily mean that the Chinese public is up to the task oftaking collective action against the regime. Dittmer's more theoretical contribution asks that the reader keep in mind the fundamental differences in political culture between China and the West in trying to make sense offhe ways that the media in China are allowed to operate. In particular, since the Chinese notion ofthe public is ofa substantively as well as procedurally defined space (p. 106), and because in the Chinese political tradition a charismatic leader always looms larger than any other individual, it is inevitable fhat the Chinese people are less demanding oftheir leaders than in the West. For this reason, Dittmer maintains, even the intellectuals who led the 1989 Tiananmen movement have so far failed to offer a meaningful alternative to the status quo. Li Langrong, on the other hand, sees objective reporting by Chinese journalists as on a learning curve: progress has been made but much remains to be achieved. The second part offhe book offers American journalists an opportunity to speak for themselves regarding tìieir...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 198-200
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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