Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Article - The great patriotic push is on in China

Straits Times 28 April 2009

BEIJING: China's Communist Party will launch a patriotic propaganda offensive celebrating 60 years of its rule, hoping the campaign will ward off economic pessimism and public discontent that could loosen its grip on power.

The 'mass patriotic education' campaign was announced on the front page of the People's Daily - the Communist Party's mouthpiece - and other official newspapers yesterday.

It underscores how even as China expands as a global economic power, officials still need to apply propaganda tools - honed over decades of one-party rule - at home to counter social strains from the financial crisis.

The 'mass patriotic campaign', which will involve a five-month blitz of pro-government propaganda on television and at concerts, cultural events and public meetings, would 'bolster confidence in vanquishing hardship', said the People's Daily, citing a directive from the party's department of propaganda.

The document described 2009 as an important year in which China would have to deal with 'complicated changes' in the global economic arena and at the same time maintain stable and relatively fast economic development.

The activities planned should 'guide people to love the party' and highlight the great achievements China has accomplished in the past 60 years.

'Guide people to profoundly grasp the incomparable superiority of socialism with Chinese characteristics,' said the directive. 'Correctly understand the new changes in the international economic environment and in our country's economic development.'

After a decade of 10 per cent-plus annual economic growth, China's leaders are contending with rising unemployment following a sharp downturn in demand from the United States and Europe for the exports which have helped drive the Chinese economic miracle.

The government is drawing up a fresh economic stimulus aimed at boosting consumption, on top of a previous four trillion yuan (S$887 billion) stimulus package to combat the global downturn by spending on new infrastructure projects around the country.

Chinese leaders appear determined that the common people should be made aware that, in these difficult times, their government is working overtime for their benefit, British newspaper the Telegraph reported yesterday.

The aim of the campaign, the People's Daily said, was to encourage the public to 'see fine prospects for our country's economic and social development' and 'even more firmly defend social stability'.

A notice issued earlier by the Ministry of Education also urges schools of all levels to launch educational activities highlighting the theme of patriotism.

It specifies that such activities should emphasise on 'improving the ideological and political education of undergraduates, as well as the shaping of the ideology and morals of non-adults'.

Vice-Party Secretary of Beijing, Mr Wang Anshun, indicated in a speech two week ago that the Chinese capital would carry through this theme of patriotism when it holds the National Day celebrations at the Tiananmen Square.

The campaign will culminate with a grand military parade through Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Oct 1 to mark the 60th anniversary of Mao Zedong's announcement of the founding of a People's Republic of China in 1949.


To what extent will the propaganda campaigns like this be successful in today's China?

No comments: