Chinese Media after China’s Entry into WTO, Vol. 10 - 2003, No. 4
China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) heated up discussions on the importance and urgency of regulatory reform in Chinese television. Entering the WTO means, first and foremost, situating China in a legal framework that is communicative, negotiable and operational within international (primarily Western) standards. For Chinese media, such reform suggests an important move on part of the Chinese government from traditional political control to legal regulation. This paper reviews the development of television regulations in China in the reform era. It begins with a brief introduction to a few Chinese key words, Fa Zhi (law) and Gui Zhi (regulation), against the background of China’s legal reforms. It then proceeds to show the development of Chinese broadcasting regulations in a changed industrial environment. Next, it examines regulations of Chinese television, focusing on organizational restructuring and program disciplining. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of the prospects and problems of regulatory reform, especially within the context of globalization. Far from most optimistic predictions, this paper argues that to date regulatory changes in Chinese television are more restrictive than liberalising; and that transformation of China’s television from administrative control to lawful regulation still has a long way to go.
This article examines the forces that have led to the recent restructuring of the Chinese media system. It demonstrates that the current developing situation is the result of the interplay of complex forces. On the one hand, there are conflicts between different levels of the political apparatus, while this apparatus as a whole has a thousand links with economic power, but also a quite different dynamic. At the same time, there is a strong desire to construct large Chinese media conglomerates that can resist the likely incursions of transnational media corporations in order to ensure that local economic and political power remains intact. The outcomes of the interplay of these different pressures is far from clear at the moment and it is unlikely that the pace of change will be sufficiently rapid as to allow a quick resolution to the complex problems that have arisen. It is, however, generally the case that, over the last two decades, the power of the market has been increasing relative to the old political imperatives: this process may be termed the “capitalisation” of the Chinese media. These two forces, however, should not be seen as mutually exclusive. Rather, then exist today in a strained but mutually legitimating relationship, and it is likely that the future development of media will result in a deepening of this alliance, to the exclusion of marginal voices and the increased hegemony of both political power and capital power.
Is it Legitimate to Imagine China’s Media as Socialist? The State, the Media and “market socialism” in China
This paper puts forward a polemical questioning of whether it is still possible to imagine or construct China’s media as socialist, or if the potential for bringing out a socialist media order in China has been exhausted. It starts by describing the debate that seems to have been evolving between China’s new left and its liberals since 1997 which has as one focus the issue of whether economic freedom and social justice are compatible. Then it is suggested that, in theory, liberal socialism can be perceived as a qualified candidate for guiding China’s immediate future. Some data indicate that, economically, the Chinese media have not yet totally failed its “truth claim” of market socialism. For example, the taxation policy on broadcasting is used to raise revenue from the richer regions of China that is partly transferred to help improve the infrastructure and services available in the poor, remote and rural areas. Although further reforms are required, China does not need to make its media ownership policy “clearer” lest the policy becomes another method for legitimating private ownership. Issues related to the “public sphere” under party-state control are also examined and it is demonstrated that there has been a rise in citizen involvement in the public controversy. The paper concludes it is not inevitable that Chinese media will develop into full market capitalism. The author detects the possibility of third way market socialism.
Transnational Capital, the Chinese State, and China’s Communication Industries in a Fractured Society
China’s accession to the World Trade Organisation has significantly accelerated the country’s integration with global capitalism through its bureaucratically-controlled and market-driven communication industries. The specific terms and conditions of this integration has meant that a newly reconstituted power bloc – consisting of the bureaucratic capitalists of a reformed Party state, transnational corporate capital, and an emerging urban middle class, whose members are the favoured consumers of both domestic and transnational capital – has assumed hegemonic dominance of the communicative processes both in and out of China. At the same time, this process has been highly contentious, and continues to be mediated by both nationalistic and leftist ideological legacies of the Chinese state and emerging forms of social and cultural contestation. This paper examines this integration from a transnational and transcultural political economic perspective. It begins with a critique of the Chinese nationalist and democracy frameworks in analyzing this integration, and then moves on to analyze the structural and ideological dimensions of China’s semi-integrated communication industries and markets and identify new patterns of inclusion and exclusion in the distribution of communicative power. At the centre of this analysis lie tensions between national and class interests; between the imperatives of capital accumulation and the communication needs of an increasingly fractured society; and, between horizontal and vertical communication among different social groups in a globalising context.
The Nation-State in a Globalising Media Environment: China’s Regulatory Policies on Transborder TV Drama Flow
Since the late 1990’s, China’s television industry has undergone a major re-organisation. This was particularly evident after China’s accession to the WTO in December 2001. One of the central issues facing China’s broadcasting is the establishment of sound guiding principles for state regulation. The purpose of this paper is to analyse China’s regulatory policies of transborder television drama flow. Through this, I engage in the debate over the role of the state in a globalising media environment. I will demonstrate that, though the transborder media poses a challenge to a national media system and culture, the local state still plays a crucial role in regulating domestic cultural policies and guiding development. The paper begins by reviewing the existing debates on the communication sovereignty of nation-state with particular focus on broadcasting. It is followed by a brief introduction to the changing environment of China’s television industry. This is aimed at providing a context for the analysis and at articulating the debates with the empirical phenomena. The rest of the paper covers two parts. The first part sketches the structure of the broadcasting regulatory system in China, and the development of its television drama in the late 1980’s and the earlier 1990’s. The second one deals with the recent changes of the Chinese regulations on governing the transborder television drama flow and investment.
This article considers the evidence about the strategic orientation of major western media companies on the Chinese market. It begins by proposing a typology of influence drawn from the analysis of post communist media change in Central and Eastern Europe. The evidence from there does not support the view that major media companies directly took over the media systems. It then reviews the evidence of the intentions of major media corporations and finds that, contrary to popular supposition, very few of them have any major commitments, at least as yet. Only News Corporation can be said to have a major involvement in the Chinese market. The article then reviews the possible reasons for this, including the nature and size of the current Chinese market. In particular, it shows that although the Chinese market is very large, and wealth is growing fast, it remains poor and the advertising revenues available are not yet substantial. On the basis of these findings and analysis, it is suggested that, contrary to popular views, it is unlikely that, in the near future, there will be any major foreign attempt to enter the mass market in Chinese television.