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The Party Line: How The Media Dictates Public Opinion in Modern China [Kindle Edition]

Doug Young
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The first in-depth, authoritative discussion of the role of the press in China and the way the Chinese government uses the media to shape public opinion

China's 1.3 billion population may make the country the world's largest, but the vast majority of Chinese share remarkably similar views on these and a wide array of other issues, thanks to the unified message they get from tightly controlled state-run media. Official views are formed at the top in organizations like the Xinhua News Agency and China Central Television and allowed to trickle down to regional and local media, giving the appearance of many voices with a single message that is reinforced at every level. As a result, the Chinese are remarkably like-minded on a wide range of issues both domestic and foreign.

  • Takes readers beyond China's economic miracle to show how the nation's massive state-run media complex not only influences public opinion but creates it
  • Explores an array of issues, from Tibet and Taiwan to the environment and US trade relations, as seen through the lens of the Xinhua News Agency
  • Tells the story of the official Xinhua News Agency along with its history and reporting over the years, as the foundation for telling the story

Editorial Reviews


The Party Line won Best Book on the Media Industry in Asia - Gold award at the The Asian Publishing Awards 2013 (July 2013)

From the Inside Flap

Japan is a former aggressor that can't be trusted. Tibet historically has always been a part of China. Falun Gong is an evil cult working to dupe the masses . . .

China's 1.3 billion population may make it the world's most populous country, but, thanks to the unified message promulgated by the tightly controlled state-run media, the vast majority of Chinese share a similar belief in these and a wide array of official truths.

In The Party Line, Shanghai-based journalist and China media expert Doug Young pulls back the veil of secrecy surrounding China's media apparatus to provide us with the first in-depth look at how and by whom official views in China are shaped and disseminated, and how they are enforced.

In a thorough feat of investigative journalism, Young takes us beyond the Chinese economic miracle to show how the nation's massive, state-run media complex works and from whom it receives its marching orders. He vividly describes how official organizations like the Xinhua News Agency and China Central Television transform actual world events into prescribed public opinion. And he identifies the channels through which the official news trickles down to regional and local media to create the illusion of many independent voices singing in perfect harmony.

Along the way, Young digs deep into an array of major new stories—from Tibet and the Korean War to the Tiananmen Square student movement and Google's withdrawal from China—as seen through the lens of Xinhua News Agency and other official media. In the process, he sheds new light on the mystery of how it is that the Chinese people are so remarkably uniform in their views on such a wide range of issues, both domestic and foreign.

Young also provides a fascinating historical account of the broader Chinese media and how its reporting has evolved over the years, including how it has adapted to keep pace with the liberalization of China's economy and society and the advent of the Internet and social media.

Offering the first authoritative, in-depth look at the role of the press in China and the way the Chinese government uses its media arm to make up its people's minds, The Party Line is a must-read for anyone with a professional interest in China, including policy analysts, policymakers, and businesspeople with an interest in doing business in China, as well as academics and students of media and current affairs.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3058 KB
  • Print Length: 277 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0470828536
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (November 5, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00A4ZK32Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #963,038 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By tabby
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I suppose this book is useful for readers who wants an insight into Chinese media - since China is very much the new economic powerhouse. However, while reading the book I also wonder what's the inside story behind Western media such as the CNN, International Herald Tribune.

In my opinion, media has been manipulated by man since the beginning of time and news is only an ends to its means i.e. making money or being in power. :) To which Doug candidly pointed out in his book that "the media carry a carefully filtered selection of standalone stories, each showing support from a different global leader, is commonly used by the media to this day."

Now back to the book, I would say that the author selected the appropriate incidents i.e. The Tiananman Square, Tibet and Korea, Google and Beijing Olympics to base his accounts on. Doug skillfully draws on his writing capabilities to give a journalistic account of the incidents is interesting, informative and provides an insight into China's media, both the main Party paper - Xinhua and the more commercialized Reform era Chinese Newspapers.

The gist of the book is how China uses media as a tool for Stability, 'Education' for masses, creating positive news in the society and (of course) promoting the Party's image.

He also relates stories from fellow reporters who had to overcome obstacles getting his story published or had their stories cut-out altogether by officials and higher management of the media company from public due to the sensitivity of the story to the society and/or the government.

Great for those who are interested in pursuing the career of Journalism, good for those who are interested in understanding more about China and its media, enjoyable read for the cynics like myself who are skeptical about all things media. :p
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Important book at an important time March 29, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
"China's media are a sort of window on the soul of the Communist Party." This sentence shows up early in Doug Young's well-researched book about the Chinese news apparatus. In the ensuing chapters, he goes on to show us how much we can learn about the Party's ambitions and fears simply by paying attention to what is reported, and what is not.

Disclosure time: I'm a U.S. Fulbright Scholar teaching journalism in Xi'an, China. Young is a former Reuters reporter who now teaches journalism at Fudan University in Shanghai. We have spoken to each other's classes, and I have used his book in a course I'm teaching.

It is full of anecdotes and details that were new to me. Officials made China's first astronaut reenact his exit from his space capsule after landing because the violent reentry left his face covered with blood - not the image they wanted to show to the proud nation.

Or take the "neican" system. "Neican" translates roughly as "for internal consideration," and it obligates Chinese journalists - especially those working for the Xinhua News Agency - to gather information that might be useful to the government. The author notes the system is partly responsible for the distrust often encountered by foreign reporters in China because of the "lingering image of journalists as partly writers and partly intelligence gatherers."

Young examines how the Party has used the media to mold public opinion since 1949, walking us through pivotal moments such as the Korean War, the Cultural Revolution, Nixon's visit, Tiananmen, the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and the Beijing Olympics. His fluency in Mandarin gave him access to Chinese reporters who covered the events, as well as archived newspapers.

This is an important book at an important time for China.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Worry, Be Happy April 6, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Party Line is a clearly written, interesting, workmanlike account of how news is produced and citizens are persuaded to adopt a politically acceptable view of their country and its place in the world in contemporary China. The author, Doug Young, might best be described as an incidental ethnographer, one who collected and interpreted his data while working as an English instructor at a University in Beijing. As one who is fluent in both Chinese and English, Young was in a particularly advantageous position to explain to his English-speaking audience how journalism in China is used to construct and instill a view of social reality that works to the advantage of those in power, especially high-ranking members of the Communist Party. In short, The Party Line deals with the social construction of what passes for valid knowledge in much the way that this process is explained in Berger and Luckmann's classic the Social Construction of Reality.

While Young's book is quite informative, much of it could be anticipated by someone who simply sat down, thought about what we know of political and economic life in China, and tried to imagine how acceptable journalistic offerings might be assembled. China, after all, is one of the last nominally communist nations, and during the past twenty years it has been experimenting with economic decentralization while remaining politically autocratic. Free market reforms inevitably yield gains and losses for individuals and groups, and a class structure that mimics that which has long prevailed in developed capitalist nations. Legitimating these outcomes, especially for those who have been left behind, requires a plausible explanation, one that places everything and everyone, at least in the long run, in a favorable set of circumstances.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Use of Media to Dictate Belief
China is one of the wealthiest nations on Earth and is doing well at the moment. Time will tell if it will continue. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Lynn Ellingwood
4.0 out of 5 stars Facinating look at China's unique media landscape
How does China with a population of over one billion people get their information? The government's news agencies Xinhua and CCTV. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Katherine Chan
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Published 22 months ago by S. Power
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book on the Media Industry
Congratulations to the Douglas Young for winning the Gold Prize at the Asian Publishing Awards. Well written and well researched!
Published 22 months ago by Julie Ann Yap
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A Chechen guy once told me about a race between an American ambassador and a Russian ambassador in which the American won. Read more
Published 22 months ago by MussSyke
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While reading this fascinating work, I wondered if the author wasn't also describing contemporary American mass media. Read more
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I've had a lifelong fascination with China. It is a country with an amazing history and, as the country with the most massive population in the world, has a Communist Party ruling... Read more
Published 23 months ago by AKN
5.0 out of 5 stars Timely and relevant
Doug Young's book on the press climate in China is a timely piece of observation as well as an interesting historical retrospective on the manipulation of information in the... Read more
Published 23 months ago by kelsie
5.0 out of 5 stars The Party Line
Wow, this is some book, covering the press in China and how China uses their media to shape public opinion. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Ginger Rose
4.0 out of 5 stars How China manages not to shoot the messenger
Author Doug Young makes some good observations in this book. The Chinese Communist Party dictates to its news editors what and how news should be reported. Read more
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More About the Author

Doug Young has lived and worked in China for 15 years, much of that as a journalist, writing about Chinese companies with a focus on media and technology. He currently lives in Shanghai where he teaches financial journalism at Fudan University, one of China's top journalism programs. He also writes daily on his blog, Young's China Business Blog, commenting on the latest developments at Chinese companies listed in the US, China and Hong Kong. Before that he worked for 10 years at Reuters in a range of positions, including Chief Correspondent for China Company News, Senior Technology Correspondent for Greater China, and Taipei Bureau Chief in the company's Hong Kong, Shanghai and Taipei bureaus. His tenure in Asia dates back to the late 1980s, when China began liberalizing its economy and many of its major corporate names first began to emerge. He has reported continually over that period on China's transformation from an economy of state-owned companies to one where many of the biggest corporate names are privately owned and publicly traded. The latest developments at these companies form the basis for most of his commentaries, examining the latest corporate and industry trends and what they mean for both short- and longer-term investors. His blog can be found at

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