China's media conglomerates have been using post-WTO competition
to rhetorically justify their own market monopoly. Meanwhile,
the party-state has been using the scare of foreign competition
to organize media conglomerates as a way of furthering
ideological and administrative control. The party-state shares
overlapping goals with the press groups, and decides that press
groups should be among "the first to get rich." In point of
fact, foreign media competition seems a remote concern, even
though the rhetoric may sound urgent.
Global media empires speak the
language of capitalism, not the language of democracy. They have
been waiting to enter the China market and seeking to ingratiate
with the Chinese authoritarian regime. China has not been
genuinely anxious about "cultural imperialism" of foreign media,
but rather been more apprehensive about the latter's overt
ideological challenge to the state power. Likewise, the Chinese
media have spoken eagerly of the dream of "globalization" – "to
be on the same international track (jiegu) " – rather than
worrying about the risk of "cultural imperialism." They show an
envy of foreign media giants' global reach, but do not intend to
surrender their state-protected monopoly. In the name of foreign
competition, they have tried to enlarge their conglomerate
control, both in size and scope.
China's press conglomerates
represent work as a clientelist network that engages in the
party-market corporatist practices. Having interviewed
approximately 100 media executives and journalists, we find that
press conglomerates are more capable than ever of fixing the
price and dictating the terms of circulation and advertising in
a monopoly market. Monopoly has weakened market competition.
Media conglomerates are forbidden to develop horizontal ties
with other conglomerates. They owe loyalty exclusively and
vertically to the Party authorities. Neither can the constituent
members develop horizontal relationships within a media group;
they only hold vertical ties with the parent company.
|The research team and
graduate students visited the Beijing Youth Daily and
was warmly received by its president.
Shanghai – a big city, but a
small place – wields a tight control over the media. They are
affluent but most timid. Media competition is more open and
vibrant in Guangzhou, where marketization means political
management. Moreover, politics takes command in Beijing; many
marketized media are considered politically peripheral but hope
to achieve political status through success in market
We have also examined the
dominant (official) ideological discourses of the Global Times.
We find that China's elite sees the globalizing context as the
best opportunity for the nation to assert itself as a major
power. Despite deep suspicion of the United States as a
stumbling block to China's passage to world greatness, the media
also caution that China must maintain a good relationship with
the U.S. in order to realize its national aspirations.