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Chinese Media after China’s Entry into WTO, Vol. 10 - 2003, No. 4

Is it Legitimate to Imagine China’s Media as Socialist? The State, the Media and “market socialism” in China

, pages: 37-52[open access]

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.

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