The Common Program of the People's Republic of China 1949-1954

Article 49 of the Common Program

In 1948, Liu Shaoqi informs representatives of the media, the CCP has nothing to fear but its detachment from the people. Among the party's links with the people, journalism is key. "You travel to all locations. The people depend on you to give voice to their demands, difficulties, experiences and even describe mistakes in our work. You turn them into news, features, and reports to Party Committees at various levels, and to the Central Committee. In this way, you make a connection between the Party and the masses."
In fact an important task of the press is gathering intelligence for the party. A part of these articles appear in the form of internal reference news specially for the high strata of the party bureaucracy. These classified publications can be divided into three major categories. The initial category comprises publications exclusively disseminated within the Party. Due to the leaders' tendency, notably Mao Zedong, to utilize these internal bulletins as platforms to advocate for their own agendas and their reluctance to engage with unfavorable news, these bulletins became entangled in power struggles and quickly became ineffective. This dysfunctional internal bulletin system severed the link between the central and local levels of leadership, impeding the central leadership's access to credible information. Consequently, this contributed to the formulation of flawed policies and exacerbated political upheaval throughout the Mao era. See also Part 3 The second consists of publications circulated within administrative organs, in such fields as military affairs,judiciary, agriculture, commerce, education, transport, and so on, as well as in government administrative bodies. The third category consists of publications circulated among Party and Youth League cadres, and other reliable groups and persons.
Four important directives from the CCP define the media policy of the PRC. The first one is issued on October 30, 1949. It states: decisions, resolutions, or circulars of an administrative nature should no longer be issued in the name of the CCP as sometimes practiced in the past. The party's press articles should employ a persuasive approach, using calls to action, suggestions, and advisories. Essentially, the role of the party's press is to convince people to align with the policies of the CPC.
The second decision is made on November 11, 1949. It stipulates that news articles penned by journalists must undergo prior examination by leaders of the relevant government departments or social organizations, or by individuals from whom the news was gathered. Following the pre-examination, it is preferable for the concerned parties to endorse the article before it is submitted to the editorial office of the press. It emphasized that the parties involved in this pre-examination process include non-party leaders or reputable nonpartisans. This decision is revoked April 19, 1950, stating: "This sort of rule, under the conditions that it was inconvenient to investigate during the war period, has avoided many criticism that did not completely conform to reality and that were inconsiderate, but continuing to adopt this sort of rule under the present conditions nevertheless does more harm than good, and is incorrect."
On July 17, 1950, the Politburo issues a new document concerning criticism. This time, the importance of criticizing and self-criticizing on the newspaper is reemphasized, "...the editorial office must take full responsibility ……the stance and opinion of criticizing must be correct, every step must follow the CPC principle, decision of Central Committee of the CPC, and guidance of the CPC committees at various levels” In other words, the party and the state therefore resumed its power of precensorship over the press. On August 27, 1952, the party decides that only the Xinhua and the Renmin Ribao (People’s Daily) can issue reports and comments on international current affairs. Local media can only report ceremonial activities of foreign official visits in local areas. The directive aimed to achieve two objectives. Firstly, it sought to regulate and standardize media coverage of international matters in order to prevent the dissemination of uncensored and decentralized content that could promote capitalist ideology and Western lifestyles, potentially jeopardizing domestic stability. Secondly, it aimed to manage the impact of international reports on foreign readers, a critical aspect for the new government in navigating international relations. The fourth decision is made In March 1953 when the CCP instructs the political propaganda department of Guangxi province that “Yishan Farmers Newspaper”, a local party’s press is not allowed to criticize the CPC committee of Yishan. The instruction declares " an internal discipline that the editorial policy of any press should not be contradictory to the policy of the party and the state agencies at the same or higher administrative level, while the party and the state agencies can do self-criticizing in the press that is under its leadership. Thanks to this policy, all members of the central government of the party and the state are automatically immune from public scrutiny and criticism by Chinese media. In other words the party-run newspapers are not free in stating what the Chinese people do or feel. Only the central party leaders have this right exclusively. Quite often the provincial press is criticized for overstepping its boundaries. One unintended and puzzling outcome of the CCP Center's criticism of the media for expressing views on behalf of the general populace was that it created a safer environment for journalists and editors to portray the negative aspects of those outside the mainstream (Non-People), rather than representing the sentiments of the People as a whole. Those labeled as domestic "running-dogs of imperialism" lacked advocates to challenge any misrepresentation or falsehood attributed to them. Another concern for the CCP Center was when journalists failed to acknowledge the Party's role when highlighting the accomplishments of individuals representing the people. In a 1954 self-critique issued by the editorial board of the Inner Mongolia Daily, this tendency was attributed to the staff's failure to recognize that individual achievements are inseparable from the leadership of the Party and the collective power it represents.
In 1953, the Central Committee issued guidelines to journalists outlining the expectations for internal reporting, shedding light on the desired media coverage during the early years of communist rule. Journalists were directed to gather information on significant events not suitable for public media and to provide objective, factual reporting. This encompassed capturing the political sentiments of the populace and the perspectives of different social groups on both domestic and international affairs. Additionally, contributors to Internal Reference (Neibu cankao) were tasked with monitoring the opinions of people from diverse backgrounds regarding life and work challenges, as well as their attitudes toward the ruling party and government entities. Neibu cankao was also charged with reporting on natural disasters and counterrevolutionary activities, thus having a broad mandate to cover negative news. An analysis of the frequency of coverage of various sensitive topics in the 2,596 issues of Neibu cankao published between 1949 and 1958 reveals that the top leadership was informed about several adverse phenomena. These included instances of hunger, goods shortages, and incidents of corruption, theft, and wastage. Reports also highlighted unrest among ethnic and religious minorities, as well as anti-regime and enemy activities, such as the establishment of counterrevolutionary organizations and foreign espionage operations within China. Particularly common were reports on hostile reactions, opinions, and views, occasionally including dispatches on superstitious rumors.

In his talks with newspaper editors on April 2 1948, Mao Zedong clearly stated the role of the press: "One of the methods is that we must fully utilize newspapers. Running newspapers well, running newspapers in a way that fascinates people, correctly propagating the Party principles and policies through newspapers, strengthening the connection between the Party and the masses through newspapers, is an issue that cannot be belittled in Party work, and that has a major principle significance… “The role and power of newspapers consists in their ability to bring the Party program, the Party line, the Party's general and specific policies, its tasks and methods of work before the masses in the quickest and most extensive way."
In the period of the first United Front policy (see part 1) the CCP published besides labour and peasant journals also youth and women journals "From the very beginning, therefore, the Party established a news media structure that consisted of both Party organs and non-party media outlets that were nevertheless under its leadership." In May 1949, the CCP leaders talked with several editors of independent published newspapers, Wang Yunsheng, Xu Zhucheng, Pu Xixiu and Chu Anping. The political leaders assured them that China needs privately owned newspapers because it still needed to gain support from these newspapers, which were still influential among the Shanghai urban population. The party lacked experience in making newspapers for the urban population. Until 1949, they had only published for cadres, soldiers, and peasants.

Mass illustration newspapers

The task of seizing control presented a challenge for the new leaders, as they aimed for authority while also distancing themselves from the censorship practices of the GMD, which they had strongly criticized prior to 1949. The CCP did not directly impose editorial control over non-party newspapers like Wenhui Bao and Xinwen Ribao. Instead, it utilized social networks and party cadres to ensure compliance among non-party media personnel. This approach reflects the CCP's confidence in not imposing prepublication censorship in the 1950s due to the successful nationalization of the Shanghai newspapers. However, it also underscores the CCP's commitment to upholding the principles of the United Front and New Democracy to establish political legitimacy within the new regime's media framework. See also Part 4. However, nobody is fooled: the titles (of these newspapers) are only maintained after big rearrangements. Dagong Bao concentrates on financial and economic news, the Guangming Ribao reports mainly on cultural and educational affairs, Wenhui Bao concentrates on education, mainly in Shanghai, and the Xinmin Ribao specializes in reporting on sports and recreation. 2 newspapers, the Guangming Ribao, and the Wenhui Bao are published by the Minzhu Dangpai (the 8 democratic parties) and are considered as integral parts of the socialist press system in the People's Republic.
Between June 10, 1950 and December 31, 1952 a state owned English-language paper, The Shanghai News, existed in Shanghai. "Its main function was to publicize the PRC’s successes, condemn American imperialism, articulate visions of socialist internationalist and anti-colonial solidarity, and report local Shanghai news. Jarringly, this orthodox propaganda was juxtaposed with large amounts of advertising for Chinese and foreign-owned companies. Commercial advertising was encouraged as a sign of lively New Democratic economy. 17" The Shanghai News bore a strong imprint from the China Daily Tribune, an English-language newspaper established in 1946 by the GMD’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. When the CCP took control of Shanghai, the Tribune ceased operations, and the News absorbed a considerable portion of its senior staff, office and manual workers, and printing equipment. It also adopted the Tribune's commercial business model, aiming for financial self-sufficiency through sales and advertising, mirroring the approach of privately-owned publications and aligning with the principles of the New Democratic economy. The audiences the newspaper wants to reach are (1) oppressed nationalities in Southeast Asia (2) foreigners in China [and] (3) the people of the New Democratic Countries and peace-loving people in imperialist countries.
Reporting on actual events is also subject to censorship. Renmin Ribao writes about the Chinese entry into the Korea War only 3 weeks later, on November 8, 1950, because then the paper could report on the first success of the Chinese intervention. Widespread skepticism toward the official media prevailed, driven in part by exposure to news reports from Taiwan radio and, notably, Voice of America, which one official commentator labeled a "factory for fabricating rumors." However, the broader lack of trust stemmed from the realization among the populace that the official media omitted news portraying the Communist government unfavorably. Mao Zedong keeps a tight control about the subject of propaganda of the Korea War. On January 5, 1951, he instructed Peng Dehuai “the whole country and whole world are carefully watching reports from the Korean War,” He stresses the need to publicize every battlefield victory and achievement, including “the release of prisoners of war and other important sudden steps ” all while making sure that Xinhua, the state news agency, “does not publish or leak military secrets or conditions at the same time.” Mao Zedong continues: “[We] must change the current situation where Xinhua often does not publish war reports, or publishes such reports too late.”
Furthermore, the entering of PLA troops in Tibet is only reported after 3 weeks of the real event. "The newspaper ’s November 2 edition contained the first big report on the subject, placed at the bottom of the front page, simply proclaiming “The People ’s Liberation Army Has Begun Advancing into Tibet.” The single headline was actually an umbrella for a series of smaller Xinhua stories, most composed of fewer than 10 sentences, with the main one a largely factual account of the advance, which at that point was several weeks old. The term “liberate” appeared frequently throughout the stories to describe the advance of the People ’s Liberation Army. " The Provisional Regulations for the Preservation of State Secrets of the People's Republic of China, which is promulgated on June 8, 1951, and the Statute on punishment for counterrevolutionary activity (February 20, 1951) further limit publications.
Besides political supervision, there is economic control; all printing factories, paper supplies, and magazine circulation organizations are controlled by official publication agents. The newspapers are put on the basis of financial self-sufficiency. The 'private' newspapers have a serious financial crisis in the first several years and have to rely heavily on government subsidies and government-approved loans. Newspaper and magazine publishers faced a loss of revenue due to the prevailing view in China, as in other socialist nations, that commercial advertising clashed with socialist principles and served no purpose in state-controlled economies, aligning with traditional Marxist beliefs. Despite the cessation of involvement by foreign companies, this phenomenon persisted in the initial years following the establishment of the PRC.
The distribution of newspapers is since 1952 in its entirety in the hands of the Post Office. "Remote areas with inadequate transportation facilities were poorly served, if at all. Villagers never received the papers to which, often, they had been forced to subscribe: or else they received them very late."

Ultimately, the party decides which articles are to be exchanged and which experiences are to be promoted or condemned. Due to the amount of illiterate people in China, the Conference of Newspapermen made in 1950 the decision to establish collective reading groups to spread news all over the country. Collective reading groups can, for instance, be found in industrial enterprises, schools, religious meeting points, armies, prisons, and groups of housewives. The propaganda machinery didn't exclusively prioritize strict control over newspaper content aimed at securing unwavering support for the CCP, as some prior analyses of PRC news systems suggested. Instead, this prevalent approach to news distribution emphasized sensational, dramatic, and captivating narratives to engage audiences with current events, China's future, and the Communist Party's role in shaping it. "Voluntary" attendance is described, but in reality, it's more of an obligation. It's among the primary duties of every propaganda, news, and educational worker to organize such reading groups. Despite shortages in newsprint, distribution bottlenecks, illiteracy, and even challenges like a scarcity of lamp oil, a significant portion of the Chinese population can still be reached through the press. Discussions within these groups compel participants to actively engage with the content presented. Additionally, the selection of reading material serves as an additional filter on the flow of information. It allows the Party to focus on primary issues, excluding secondary ones that might confuse or distract less educated or less advanced individuals. To reach the rural areas, newspaper boards are located at the head of a street, outside a school or government office, or in a marketplace. "The blackboards included “each province's important government orders and announcements, and important nation-wide domestic and international news.” They also reported village work affairs, the progress of model personages, criticisms, mass opinion, as well as ordinary policies, laws, and education to encourage labor.79 In short, the boards contained the entire communist program, condensed and simplified for mass consumption, regularly refreshed, and freely available for the whole community to read."
Before the PLA took over the area, the local underground CCP branch judged and catalogued all local media so that the local administration could swiftly deal with them as soon as they had control of the area. In Shanghai, the party categorized the newspapers into 3 political groups not economic (private or public): the reactionary press, middle of the road, and progressive media. Controlling the media industry is considered a "class struggle tool". The result of this screening in Shanghai is that between May and June 1949, of the existing 244 press agencies and journals, only 44 received accreditation. The Shanghai Press and Publication Bureau substantiates their decision: "They actually served the reactionaries by being their propaganda tools. Some continue to publish under the guise of progressive or neutral positions so that they can try to maintain a reactionary propaganda base, but they had already committed too many sins against the people before 1949" Under directives from the Military Administration Committee (MAC), the majority of foreign media outlets and journalists were required to cease all publications. Furthermore, the MACs permitted only a few chosen foreign publications and news agencies to operate within these areas, primarily to serve the CCP's public propaganda efforts on the international stage, aimed at extending its influence beyond its borders.
The number of mainland magazines is reduced from 1848 in 1945 to 295 in 1950. Existing magazines are restyled, like 'Little friends' (Xiao pengyou, 小朋友) not only in content (propaganda for the new regime but also in appearance (The magazine still opens from the right, but the characters are now printed from left to right.), and new magazines are published, like 'Children's Time, '(Ertong shidai, 儿童时代) in April 1950.
Many reporters and editors, who worked before 1949, are arrested and sometimes killed. All independent journalists and publishers are required to operate within workplaces controlled by the CCP. These personnel controls extend beyond the official organs of the regime to encompass all newspapers and journals in the country, regardless of their nominal affiliations. For instance, the editor of a newspaper associated with a provincial women’s association, although appointed by the association itself, must first receive approval from the provincial party authorities and subsequently be confirmed by the Central Committee of the party. To further tighten the control, the CCP introduced the Thought Reform campaign (see Article 46). The campaign is introduced in the Shanghai media industry on August 21 and ended on October 21, 1952. Primarily, personnel from the editorial and management departments of privately owned newspapers played significant roles in the campaign. Mass campaigns, like the Thought Reform, proved to be effective in pressuring the shareholders of privately owned newspapers to relinquish their shares to the government and compel the transformation of these newspapers into jointly managed entities. As a result, following the Thought Reform, remaining privately owned newspapers, such as Wenhui Bao and Xinmin Bao, underwent a transformation into joint public and private management by the conclusion of 1952. The nationalization of the Shanghai newspaper industry went through a gradual process from the initial takeover in 1949 to the transformation of the remaining privately owned newspapers into joint public and private management, which completed the nationalization of newspapers by late 1952. The pattern of both the initial takeover and the nationalization process from 1949 to 1952 demonstrated that the relatively successful nationalization by the CCP was a combined result of both the gradual expansion of state control over privately owned newspapers since the wartime period and the CCP’ s coercive measures through mass campaigns, such as the Thought Reform.
To solve the shortage of 'reliable' journalists party cadres with some experience in propaganda work are recruited. This did not solve the problem and party schools started training cadres as journalists. The Beijing School for Journalism is founded with Marxist-Leninist theories listed at the top of the curriculum. Courses like newspaper’s mass work and propaganda are also important subjects.
Special interest papers for youth, workers, and government departments (Health News from the Ministry of Health) are published. See Table Newspapers. Not all newspapers are listed in this table. "By 1954, in addition to 151 Party organs, there were seventeen worker's newspapers, twenty-three farmers newspapers, seventeen youth and juvenile papers, fourteen specialized trade newspapers, and fifteen newspapers published by social organizations and other political parties." Besides these papers, there are several local newspapers, in 1951 there are more than 1000 county newspapers.

The fate of private commercial radio stations can be compared with the destiny of the commercial newspapers. In early 1950 there are 33 private radio stations (22 are located in Shanghai, 3 in Guangzhou and Chongqing, 2 in Ningbo, and 1 in Beijing, Tianjin, and Qingdao). While not explicitly prohibited for a number of years, private radio stations faced mounting pressure to cease broadcasting or transition into public ownership. Announcers underwent scrutiny to ensure their political allegiance and were required to register. Stations found in violation of regulations, such as broadcasting commercial messages for payment, faced consequences including the arrest of managers and employees, as well as interrogation of their client base. The municipal party committee acquired several stations, likely at significantly reduced prices. To maintain a semblance of legitimacy, outright seizure of stations by the party was a rare occurrence. At the end of 1953 the private stations are all gone.
In 1949 there were about one million radio sets, concentrated in urban “bourgeois” homes. Many of these listeners listened to foreign radio stations, which symbolized their cosmopolitan identity. After 1949, listening to these radio stations was seen a potential threat to the new regime. At the beginning of the Korean War, a campaign started against those who listened to the Voice Of America. The station was considered as a tool of American imperialism. "The government mobilized all sorts of authorities in their anti-shortwave project: public security, scientific associations, garrison and PLA communications divisions, news publishers, women’s associations, trade unions. Newspapers published editorials and stations broadcast pithy orders: Oppose listening to Voice of America! Turn in your shortwave radios! Unions and the Communist Youth Corp urged their members to turn in those people secretly harboring a shortwave radio, or listening to enemy broadcasts.17" Neighbors were enlisted to monitor neighbors.
A network of regulated radio stations is established to reach a wide audience, alongside the takeover or closure of radio stations from the previous regime. The CCP also aimed to broaden the audience for "People’s Radio Stations" and safeguard the airwaves from enemy infiltration. Mao Zedong’s speech on October1, 1949 was broadcasted live. Microphones around Tiananmen Square were placed to capture audience enthusiasm and the military parade. From 1950 onwards, a rediffusion network is started and within a year 51 stations with 2200 loudspeakers are installed. In the same year, the CCP tightened control over the sale of radio equipment and registered radio sets. The emphasis in developing this rediffusion network is due to the lack of radio sets in the rural areas and it is above all an inexpensive way to reach the rural population. Rooftop broadcasting was also a method to reach rural areas. News, agricultural knowledge, exchanged experiences, and promoted productivity by praising models and criticizing “backward elements” would be read out loud in the local dialect by a schoolteacher or other literate person. "The Party mandated “listening groups” in which cadres supervised discussion, partook in the singing of songs as one national body, and added local flavor to the Party’s broadcast directives."
Mass listening campaign proliferated over the course of the 1950s, and the programs lengthened. For example a planned mass broadcast meeting that would take place over the course of three evenings, April 25th to 27th, 1951 from 6:30 to 10:30 pm each day to deepen the spirit of the Resist America and Aid Korea campaign on the home front. Another example "A broadcast meeting in Chongqing, during the August 1951 Movement against Enemy Agents and for the Suppression of Counter-Revolutionary Speech ..., lasted a total of eight hours, from 9-12 in the morning and from 1-6 in the afternoon. There was an hour break for lunch. Businesses, institutions, and schools were presumed to be listening the whole time. Specially trained cadres led the listening masses in discussion, encouraging people to express their opinions and accusations. Audience reactions could be instantaneously phoned-in to either the meeting place or the radio station, so that the organizers could gauge opinion and make adjustments accordingly" These broadcast programs are easy to control and interception by foreign adversaries is almost impossible. The broadcasts are used for propaganda ("for example: Social Science Course, Social History, Political Economy, Marx Engels's "Communist Manifesto", Lenin's "Imperialism" and "State and Revolution", and Mao Zedong's "New Democracy Theory") but also for health information and radio gymnastics. When radio operators interacted with villagers, their guiding principle was to "speak reason," aiming to persuade and inform them through logical discourse. Originating in the 1940s, "speak reason" became a favoured method for state agents to educate peasants and involve them in state initiatives. Radio programs primarily targeted adult labourers at home or in the fields. A editorial of the Renmin Ribao states "Instead of strenuously organizing classrooms ‘handicraft industry style’ for only tens and hundreds of people, radio stations can simultaneously teach tens of thousands, even millions of students at the same time.” 26 Radio’s orality, speed, and massive reach were thus considered uniquely suited to govern China’s vast territory, inadequate infrastructure, and uneducated populace." In 1950 government branches, army divisions, institutions, factories, and schools are required to develop their radio operators to help organize radio listening activities. While central and provincial leaders endorsed radio for its effectiveness, lower-level cadres harbored suspicions about its authority in communication both within and outside the government apparatus. They preferred written documents over radio announcements as the symbol of state power and authority. For example, some county leaders declined to adhere to directives delivered via radio broadcast transcripts from higher authorities. Instead, they insisted on waiting for the arrival of written documents, regardless of the urgency and time sensitivity of the issues at hand.
Struggling with insufficient technological expertise, the radio operators encountered another fresh institutional challenge: their shift from the Party to the government. In 1951, the CCP opted to transfer the radio operators, who were under its oversight, to the GAC. This move aimed to enhance the government's propaganda capabilities. Later that same year, the State Organization Commission mandated that each county government secretary's office must have a dedicated full-time staff member responsible for radio operations. Although these radio operators held positions within the county government, they were also required to adhere to directives from the Party's county propaganda department. The costs for essential supplies like transistors, paper, and pens would be covered by the hosting institution. The funding of the operators should not be taken from the funding for electricity. Once the funding was insufficient, it should be covered by the funding for propaganda. It should be noticed that the rivalry between provincial radio authorities and local officials for control over the interpretation of state policies, regulations, and directives sped up. As officials submitted to the radio's authority, radio stations no longer regarded them as intermediaries between the state and the rural population. To put it differently, the local officials who were once crucial for smoothing communication barriers between the government and the citizens turned into hindrances themselves. Due to the confidence it inspired, radio emerged as a crucial instrument for implementing government initiatives. The dissemination of socialist benefits through this contemporary and authoritative device cultivated a sense of trust. Many believed that as the voice originated from the central government, its communication must be inherently truthful. The information and directives provided were straightforward and untwisted, unaffected by the manipulation of corrupt local authorities. The positive sentiments fostered by radio, along with its expanding reach, proved especially valuable in the establishment of cooperatives, the initial phase of collectivization, in 1954. During this period, radio monitoring teams were utilized for this purpose. These teams were tasked with incessantly broadcasting pro-collectivization propaganda, which prompted numerous peasants to convene for listening sessions.
In 1949 'News Briefs' are started. They are publicized in theatres and in the open-air. In about 10 minutes each week news, politics, culture and entertainment are shown. For example, the News Brief Democratic Dongbei No. 13 produced in 1949 has five themes: Welcoming of Democratic Figures at the Beiping Front Gate Train Station; The National Student Representatives Union Held in Beiping; Dongbei Worker Politics University, Revolutionary Air Force Arrives in Jinan and Greeting the Nanjing Train.

The CCP takes immediately control over the foreign publishers. All journalists with capitalist leanings are required to leave, and only specific foreign publications and news agencies are granted access to operate within these areas. Their purpose is to serve the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) international propaganda efforts by exporting influence abroad. In such instances, the CCP then imports these reports to reinforce its propaganda effects domestically. As an example, during the celebration of the establishment of the People's Republic of China (PRC), four foreign journalists were permitted to cover the event: one from the USSR, one from Italy (L’Unità), and two from North Korea.
In 1942, Mao Zedong expressed disapproval of the conventional writing style found in newspapers, stressing the importance of simplicity and clarity in writing. However, foreign language media often leaned heavily on Marxist-Leninist terminology, rendering its messages accessible only to those already well-versed in such language. This posed a significant issue, given that the primary audience of the PRC's foreign propaganda media was the "middle elements" abroad rather than leftist circles. Nonetheless, the Party's overarching aim is to secure dominion over the media by instituting a steadfast framework of interpretation, effectively stifling dissent. Ideally, divergent ideas find little traction due to the absence of suitable linguistic avenues. At its most extreme, the formalized and antiseptic bureaucratic language of the PRC has earned the epithet "Mao style". A NCNA editor stresses the importance of adapting the wording and contents of overseas propaganda to the ‘mental state’ of foreigners. "For instance, one must not put too much stress on the extension of working hours, on doing without rest or sleep, on women taking part in heavy physical labour, etc. This is because in the minds of Western readers, circumstances like these easily create the impression of labour being made more and more intense and of a lack of concern with [the wellbeing of] the individual. This in turn provides the enemy with opportunities to spread rumours.11"
The Foreign Language Press (FLP) and Radio Peking are the most important foreign language agencies. The staff of the FLP grew from 110 people in 1949 to 443 in 1953. The Radio Peking staff grew from 34 people to 214 in 1956. (Radio Peking launched Korean, Burmese, Thai, Indonesian, and Vietnamese broadcasts in the early 1950s, from 1954 onwards, they propagated “five principles of peaceful co-existence” and anti-US sentiment.) "In February 1950, a work report prepared by the editorial department of international broadcasts at Radio Peking summarized these objectives under four headings: 1. Propagating the victorious liberation struggle of the Chinese people; 2. Propagating China’s revolutionary experience; 3. Propagating the strength and development of the peaceful revolutionary front led by the Soviet Union; In January 1950, the People's China published its first volume. It started in English later followed by Russian, Japanese, Chinese, French and Indonesian editions. In its first issue, the twice-a-month magazine proclaimed: "This is a journal dedicated to cementing unity and friendship between the Chinese people and the progressive people of all lands and to the cause of the lasting peace and people’s democracy. Through its pages, we intend to inform our readers, twice a month, of the thought and life of the China that has freed herself from the clutches of domestic reactionaries and the yoke of foreign imperialists,—that is, the people’s China." In January 1951, a monthly magazine, China Pictorial, started publishing in English, but unlike People’s China, it is distributed in Chinese to domestic readers in July 1950, as well as in Mongolian, Tibetan, Uighur and Russian. Later on, editions in five other languages are published. Negative occurrences are conspicuously absent. In the publications, villagers engage in confrontations with landlords during struggle sessions, yet the landlords are either re-educated or flee the scene; instances of them being beaten to death or executed, which may have occurred to tens of thousands, are seldom mentioned. The shortcomings in the implementation of the 1950 Marriage Law are acknowledged but are significantly played down in comparison to the graphic descriptions found in domestic Chinese media. While some attention is given to the smaller campaigns of the Three Antis and the Five Antis against bureaucratism and rightists, the editors refrain from informing foreign readers about the fate of the targets. Articles on foreign policy in the People's Daily are treated as diplomatic statements and are consequently controlled accordingly.
Tillman (2013) gives an example of propaganda in an English-language book, Children’s Tears, which targets overseas Chinese. The book condemns mission schools and orphanages. The complete disregard shown by these institutions for the lives and health of the children under their charge are eloquent evidence of the fact that they were founded to serve imperialist aims, with “charity” as a convenient form rather than a genuine aim. This is confirmed by the fact that those children who did not die of malnutrition or other causes were educated in a spirit of subservience to everything foreign and alienated from their own families and countrymen."

In June 1950, Hu Yuzhi reported about the publishing sector. He stated: "The publishing sector of the entire country is still quite chaotic. Output is low and so is quality. The vast majority of new books are of mediocre content and are stereotyped. The biggest sales are only cadre study books and journals, with literary works coming in second; books in support of production and construction and reading materials for the great masses of workers and peasants are few and far between. We will have to spend a great amount of work to turn around the trend of publishing being detached from the real needs. ...High paper prices are of course the main reason for high book prices, but another reason is the mishandling of distribution and our inability to avoid waste. In most places, textbooks cannot be supplied in time."
By following the Soviet Union model of publishing, the CCP takes the decision to a division of labor along organizational lines and specialization according to subject matter. This results in the establishment of specialist publishing houses, each with a specific assignment: the People’s Publishing House specializes in publications of political nature and policy-related reading materials, the Education Publishing House task is to publish school textbooks. 2 other houses are the Youth Press and the Popular Readings Press. The larger private publishing houses have to concentrate their publishing activities on one special field. Their retail and wholesale activities are transferred to Xinhua. To stabilize the private publishing industry and advance the publishing directives of the new government, two primary strategies were devised and put into action: takeover and unification. The takeover policy involved the strict and militaristic assumption of control over private publishing institutions directly affiliated with the GMD government. On the other hand, the unification measure aimed at fostering a balanced state-private relationship and integrating public and private resources. This approach authentically embodied the United Front policy of the CCP towards the national bourgeoisie during the New Democracy era. Unhappy with the challenges of overseeing numerous privately owned presses and in alignment with the socialist industrial transformation policy, the government initiated increased efforts in 1951 to encourage privately owned publishing houses to merge into joint ventures with the state. This initiative, aimed at enhancing governmental oversight, also facilitated the consolidation of numerous small publishing houses into a handful of larger entities. Shanghai played the dominant role in the publishing industry in China, accounting for over 70% copies of publications of the national total at the beginning of 1949 and by the end of 1955, this number was significantly reduced to lower than 19%. The private publishing houses are no longer allowed to retain all their titles. The Commercial Press has to reduce the amount of titles from 15000 (prior to 1949) to 1354 in 1951. It is also forced to convert more than 90% of its stock into paper pulp.
Fig. 49.1 Books and Periodicals 1950-1954
Source: Houn (1960). Page 180
*number in 1000
The increase in numbers is caused by the publication of Thirty Years of the Chinese Communist Party, the works of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, the works of Mao Zedong, and other political works.
On August 16, 1952, the government issues the Provisional Regulations on the Control of the Book Publishing, Printing, and Distributing Firms. Article 4 of these regulations stipulates "All publicly-run and jointly-run book and newspaper publishing businesses, printing businesses and distribution businesses shall, on the basis of a permit of the higher level to which they are subordinate (organ, group or enterprise) and a business application letter, indicating the business scope, the equipment situation (where necessary, attachments presenting business plans shall be included), and put forward a request for inspection and approval of business with their local administrative publishing organ." The regulation prohibits all antirevolutionary books and magazines. This regulation tightens the control of the CCP, all publishing houses become tools of the government, and all publications are ideological correct. This process of control is not so tightened that the persuading of reading free approved publications is initially difficult to implement. Many people prefer to rent or buy noncommunist books from secondhand bookstores or bookstalls. See also Article 45

cited in Zhao (1989). Page 52 [↩] [Cite]
In a 1953 Party directive, the Party Central Committee instructed journalists from the Xinhua News Agency and Party newspapers to write internal reference material in areas such as: situations and sensitive problems in the implementation of Party policies, especially difficulties, deviations, mistakes and shortcomings that are important for the leadership to know; the political thinking of all types of people, their opinions on important domestic and international events, heir difficulties in their daily life and work, their opinions of the leadership, detailed information on natural disasters, the activities of counter-revolutionaries, and so on. Zhao (1989) Page 53-54. [Cite]
"The actual neican system was set up in 1951, shortly after the Communists came to power, when China was still closely allied with the Soviet Union, which already used its own version of neican for intelligence gathering." Young (2013). Page 65 [↩] [Cite]
Plettenberg (1968). Page 81 [↩] [Cite]
Huang (2020). Pages 339-340 [↩] [Cite]
Li (2007). Page 90.
Li continues: "It firstly disciplined the journalists of the CPC press to respect the work and opinions of non-communist party members, especially those well known figures working for the government, in a New-democratic Revolution period. Secondly, it disciplined journalist of private owned media to do their reports under the supervision of the CPC and government agencies." Page 91 [Cite]
 28-08-1950 Mao Zedong Decision to Organize Party Journals [↩]
Li (2007). Page 90. [↩] [Cite]
Li (2007). Page 91-92 [↩] [Cite]
Li(2007). Page 67 [↩] [Cite]
Li (2007). Page 67 [↩] [Cite]
Schoenhals (1994). Pages 5-6 [↩] [Cite]
Dimitrov (2023). Page 133 [↩] [Cite]
02-04-1948 Mao Zedong Talk with the Editors of the Jinsui Daily. Several directives are issued: CCP Central Committee directive on how to treat Chinese and foreign news agencies and newspapers in newly liberated cities 8 November 1948. CCP Central Committee reporting regulations in news media, 5 June 1948; CCP central Propaganda Bureau directive on city party newspapers 15 August 1948. CCP Central Committee Directive on the registrations of newspapers, periodicals, and publishing houses in Beiping, 28 February 1949. [↩]
Zhao (1989). Page 31 [↩] [Cite]
Chin (2013). Page 970.
Chin also notices "The criteria for post-publication censorship were prohibition of behaviour violating government decrees, propaganda against the people’s liberation war, against land reform, and the people’s democratic system, propaganda against world people’s democratic movements, and leaking of national or military secrets" Page 968.
The list of permissible topics did not remain static. Over the years more items were added while others were removed in the shifting political tide.[Cite]
Vidal (2008) notices "Peu de publications sont maintenues. À Shanghai par exemple, sur les 244 organes et agences de presse enregistrés entre mai et juin 1949, seuls 44 obtiennent une accréditation." Translation: Few publications are maintained. In Shanghai for example, of the 244 organs and news agencies registered between May and June 1949, only 44 obtained accreditation. Vidal (2008). Page 64 [Cite]
Hung (2021) remarks. " many junior employees were involved in the day-to-day operation of the government agencies related to censorship (is hard to tell)....twelve people were hired to run this municipal office.58 They were mostly inexperienced. The workload kept expanding as the years went by, and the shortage of personnel prompted the offce to request additional help.59 The Beijing Municipal Party’s immediate remedy was to hurriedly put together five training classes between March 1949 and March 1950 to prepare 4,133 new cadres to work in various agencies of the municipal government." Page 25
He continues "Standards, in reality, varied greatly from one censor to another because the censors had few specific rules to follow. Decisions were made based largely on individuals’ personal knowledge, experience, and interpretation of the rules....Different places produced differing judgments." Page 38 [Cite] [↩]
Howlett (2020). Page 5 [↩] [Cite] [Cite]
Howlett (2020). Page 7 [↩] [Cite]
Howlett (2020). Page 8 [↩] [Cite]
Smith (2008). Page 273 [↩] [Cite]
Cited on Partly a response to anti-Chinese leaflets that the US/UN were spreading around North Korea
Yet Mao also stated "If foreign news agencies report on the Volunteer Army, please ensure that it is not published in "Reference News" for the next four to five days."  21-10-1950 Mao Zedong regarding the Letter to Hu Qiaomu about Not Publishing News about the Volunteer Army within Four to Five Days
 29-09-1950 Mao Zedong Regarding the Letter to Hu Qiaomu about Not Mentioning the Time to Attack Taiwan and Tibet in Propaganda
 27-10-1950 Mao Zedong Telegram to Peng Dehuai on publishing news [↩]
Young (2013). Page 92.[Cite]
Smith (2006) states "Rumor is present in all societies, and in Communist societies it functioned, to a large extent, exactly as it does in non-Communist societies—namely, as “improvised news” in which people comment upon the events taking place around them. 12 In the PRC, where the news media were tightly controlled by the party-state, it reflected a pervasive lack of trust in information that emanated from government. During the Korean War, for example, people in Shenyang, Chengde, and Hunan were reported as saying, “There’s nothing in the newspapers worth reading. They publish only the good news, not the bad. If something happens, they daren’t talk about it.” 13 Teachers in Wuxi and Suzhou were said to feel that the People’s Daily “has too little and too tardy news about the international situation.” 14 In Zhejiang, “merchants” opined: “The Zhejiang Daily is a Communist newspaper, so it only publishes news favorable to the Communists.” 15 Given this profound skepticism toward the news media, rumors about economic difficulties, about conflict among political leaders, or about tensions in international relations purported to reveal what the party-state was anxious to hide. In addition to the function of rumor as “improvised news,” however, much of the sociological literature stresses the role of rumor as a response to situations of crisis or uncertainty." Smith (2006). Page 408 [↩] [Cite]
(1) fixing subscription fees high enough to cover the cost of newsprint; (2) reducing the number of employees to a minimum; (3) adopting the system of cost accounting; (4) enacting rules governing the upkeep of equipment; (5) rewarding employees for elimination of waste and for high productivity; (6) using inexpensive, native-made newsprint; (7) improving services to the reader by getting papers printed and delivered promptly every day; (8) strictly enforcing the rules of budgeting and auditing; (9) engaging in profitable sideline activities such as using idle presses to print posters or handbills for commercial and governmental agencies; and (10) carrying advertisements for publishing houses, 'cultural organizations' and certain commercial enterprises.20" Houn (1958). Page 444 [↩] [Cite]
Puppin (2014). Page 180. [↩] [Cite]
Plettenberg (1998). Page 99 [↩] [Cite]
A description of the takeover of the Shanghai Evening Post is to be found in: Gould (1951). [↩] [Cite]
Santacaterina (2021). Page 10 [↩][Cite]
Plettenberg (1998). Page 113 [↩] [Cite]
Alekna (2020). Page 261 [↩] [Cite]
cited in Ying (2014). Page 98 [↩] [Cite]
Shao (2011). Page 50 [↩] [Cite]
Houn (1958). Page 440 [↩] [Cite]
Zhang (2010). Page 25.
"... the individuals most affected by thought-reform and the restructuring of the media industry were middle and lower level employees. State officials put the weapon of democracy into these people’s hands and encouraged them to push the great reporting and accusation campaign to its height, only to drive the majority of those individuals out of the media industry." Zhang (2010). Page 79 [↩] [Cite]
Chin (2013). Page 15. Chin also remarks "In comparison with the nationalization of other industries, which was completed later in 1956, the Shanghai newspaper industry's nationalization was completed much earlier, in late 1952. .., the CCP emphasized the political importance of the press in the revolutionary process, and this explains partially why the nationalization of the Shanghai newspapers was completed earlier than that of other industries" Page 20 [↩] [Cite]
Zhao (1989). Page 37 [Cite] [↩][Cite]
See for example RMRB 26-10-1949 "Deprive counter-revolutionary freedom of speech! The Beijing Military Control Commission censored three radio stations" "Banning reactionary broadcasting stations and strengthening the people’s broadcasting undertakings" [↩]
Alekna (2020). Pages 234-235 [↩] [Cite]
Alekna (2020). Pages 237 [↩] [Cite]
Li (2020). Page 28. [Cite]
Li remarks "Shanghai’s propaganda department was to mobilize public sentiments against listening to Voice of America; trade unions and youth leagues were all supposed to persuade their constituents to submit to the registration and refitting (by physically disable shortwave on all the radio sets) of their radio sets." Page 29.
"In Hangzhou, shortwave radiosets had to be registered with the Residents’ Committees, and their owners had to pledge not to listen to the Voice of America" Wen (2015). Page 102 [↩] [Cite]
Alekna (2020) describes "Radio sets came from new Soviet bloc countries: Hungary, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, and even Romania...None of them compared to the quality of the pre-war British or American receivers. While the government denounced all things American, it still sought the help of American exports....After the CCP succeeded in driving foreign business from Shanghai, the trade moved to Hong Kong, which acted as an entrepôt and launderer for electronics destined to help build New China. Radio tubes and loudspeakers from Chicago, potentiometers from Indianapolis, aerials from Cleveland, capacitors from Washington, D.C., all made their way in quantity to the island city en route to the mainland to satisfy Beijing’s demand for equipment to construct its propaganda infrastructure.34...By 1954, the Chinese were able to produce their own radio receivers and transmitter equipment in Nanjing,.." Pages 240-241 [↩] [Cite]
Cathcart (2010b). Page 207 [↩] [Cite]
Alekna (2020). Page 255 [↩] [Cite]
Wang Yu (2019). Page 37 [↩] [Cite]
RMRB editorial June 1950 cited in Li (2020). Revolutionary Echoes. Page 30 [↩]
Wang Yu (2019). Page 9 [↩] [Cite]
Wang Yu (2019). Page 24 [↩] [Cite]
Wang Yu (2019). Page 81 [↩] [Cite]
Alekna (2020). Pages 264-265 [Cite]
"Radio transmission monitoring networks were established, in which monitoring teams appointed by local authorities would travel to areas where radio was not yet accessible. These teams had the following functions: Listen to and transcribe news, political instructions, and other important content transmitted by the Central and Provincial People's Broadcasting Stations, introduce and announce programs transmitted by the aforementioned stations, and organize the local population to listen to important programs." Ferreira da Silva (2021). Page 8
Text original: redes de monitoricão de transmissdes de radio, nas quais equipas de monitores apontadas pelas autoridades locais se deslocavam ás zonas onde a rádio ainda não estava acessivel. Estas equipas tin ham como funções: Ouvir e redigir no ticias, i nstrugdes politicas e outro conteúdo importante transmitido pelas Estações Populares de Transmissão do centro e das provincias (...), introduzir e anunciar os programas transmitidos pelas estações acima mencionadas e organizar a população local para ouvir programas importantes [↩] [Cite]
Mao Yijing (2019). Page 191 [↩] [Cite]
Shao (2011). Page 50 [↩] [Cite]
Üngör (2009). Pages 55-56 [↩] [Cite]
Volland (2003). Page 223 [↩] [Cite]
Cited in Schoenhals (2007). Page 467 [↩] [Cite]
Üngör (2012). Page 26 Note 53 [Cite]
Fig. 49.2 Radio Beijing
People's China January 1, 1950. Volume 1,1. Page 3 [↩]
Lazarick (2005). Page 168 [↩] [Cite]
Ohlberg (2013). Page 141 [↩] [Cite]
Tillman (2013). Page 209. "In part because the book was intended for an international audience, Children’s Tears placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of local Chinese leadership in the previous regime." [↩] [Cite]
Cited in Volland (2003). Page 280 [↩] [Cite]
Zhang (2020). Pages 164-165[↩] [Cite]
Houn (1960). Pages 177-178 [↩] [Cite]
Zhang (2020). Page 162.
"(The private publishing houses) could be approximately divided into the following types: large and general publishing houses with a relatively long history, such as the Commercial Press, Zhonghua Book Company (Zhonghua shuju), World Book Company (Shijie shuju), Dadong Book Company (Dadong shuju), Kaiming Bookstore (Kaiming shudian); medium-sized publishers, such as Longmen, Lixin, Beixin, Guangyi, Xinya, etc; and small bookstores including over 70 comic series (paomashu) suppliers, over 60 popular book publishers, over 10 children’s book publishers, and more than 20 picture card publishers, as well as over 10 map publishers and 11 religious publishing companies. In the meantime, there were also more than 50 members of the Association of New Publishers (xin chubanye lianying shudian), which had already participated the United Front and operated under the leadership of CPC before the takeover of Shanghai, ...Their publications were usually more serious and progressive." Zhang (2020). Page 165 [↩] [Cite]
"...,Volumes I and II of Complete Works of Lu Xun, and the works by other famous writers since the May 4th Movement, like Midnight and Family. Moreover, there were Chinese and foreign literary works. Some of them describe the revolutionary wars in China, like The Sun Shines over the Sanggan River, Mighty Storm, Luliang Heroes, Wang Gui and Li Xiangxiang and The White-haired Girl, etc.; and some about the war of resisting US aggression and aiding Korea, like Who Is the Most Lovable Person? Besides, the literary works of the Soviet Union like How the Steel Was Tempered were also published. Additionally, notable results were attained in the compilation and publication of ancient books, as evidenced by the fact that the classical novels such as Water Margin, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, A Dream of Red Mansions and Journey to the West were annotated and published." Fan (2019). Page 632[↩] [Cite]

19-04-1950 Decision concerning Launching Criticism and Self-Criticism in Newspapers
21-04-1950 General News administration decision concerning the Improvement of Newspaper Work and establishment Broadcast Receiving Network
01-05-1950 Decision on improving the work of newspapers
16-05-1950 Deng Xiaoping report delivered at a conference on the press in southwest China
08-06-1950 The Provisional Regulations for the Preservation of State Secrets of the People's Republic of China
20-02-1951 Statute on punishment for counterrevolutionary activity
13-06-1951 Notice of the Office of the Secretary of the Government Administration Council on Strictly Complying with Unified Release of News
15-08-1951 Interim Administrative Rules for the Printing, Casting and Lettering Industry
16-08-1952 The Provisional Regulations on the Control of the Book Publishing, Printing and distributing firms
12-11-1953 GAC Regulations concerning Rectifying the Phenomenon of Wilful Reprinting of Books

  • 03-10-1949 - 09-10-1949 1st national Xinhua conference
  • 29-08-1950 - 10-09-1950 2nd national Xinhua conference
  • 15-09-1950 -25-09-1950 1st National Conference on National Conference on Publishing

  • Chapter 5 of Common Program