Between openness and control

Since 1978, China's media reforms have gone hand-in-hand with its economic reforms.


Socialism is Good is an old song that used to be very popular in Mao-era China. Wang Wei, a 53-year-old retired worker from a state-owned motorbike factory, seems to have taken a renewed interest in singing the song. As a typical Chinese citizen, Mr Wang lives in an apartment of 60 square meters with his wife, but has access to over 100 digital channels on his television and a two megabyte broadband ADSL connection to the internet. “Socialism is much better than its previous version,” he commented with a wrinkled smile during a chat with me, “and you feel that life starts to have quality.” It was unclear to me exactly what made Mr Wang draw such a conclusion, but his six-hour involvement in media communication every day clearly plays an important part. The changes in the media landscape run parallel with the societal changes that affected ordinary Chinese in a transitional society.

Hu Zhengrong

Hu Zhengrong is professor of communication, director of the National Centre for Radio & TV Studies and vice president, communication at the Communication University of China, as well as being chair of the China Association of Communication. His research areas are media policy and institutional transition, media development strategy and the political economy of communication.

Lan Ruoyu

Lan Ruoyu is a PhD candidate at the School of Journalism and Communication, Communication University of China, and a lecturer at Sichuan International
Studies University.

Ji Deqiang

Ji Deqiang is an assistant professor at the National Centre for Radio & TV Studies at Communication University of China.