Changing Media, Changing China

By Susan L. Shirk | Go to book overview

2
China’s Emerging Public Sphere:
The Impact of Media
Commercialization,
Professionalism, and the Internet
in an Era of Transition

Qian Gang and David Bandurski

IN CHINA THERE is an old saying about Lord Ye, who professes to love dragons but runs for dear life when finally confronted with one. The parable is a fair characterization of the deep ambivalence that China’s leaders now feel toward the increasingly freewheeling commercial and Internet media. Since the 1990s China’s leaders have encouraged the commercialization of the country’s media: in 1998, China’s media industry earnings totaled RMB 126 billion (USD 16 billion),1 and by 2005, that figure had nearly tripled to RMB 320 billion (USD 40.5 billion).2 China also has actively supported the development of Internet infrastructure to keep stride with its global competitors, spending USD 138 billion in the five years to 30 June 2005, and it had 384 million Internet users by 31 December 2009, including 346 million broadband users.3

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