Changing Media, Changing China

By Susan L. Shirk | Go to book overview

6
Engineering Human Souls: The
Development of Chinese Military
Journalism and the Emerging
Defense Media Market

Tai Ming Cheung

WHEN CHINA SHOWED off its newest generations of tanks, missiles, and aircraft at the sixtieth anniversary National Day parade in October 2009, it was a tightly choreographed display designed to impress the hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens watching on live television but not alarm the rest of the world. To achieve this delicate balance, the propaganda maestros in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) conducted an intensive charm offensive to promote the message that its warriors had the means and will to defend the country’s sovereignty and stability but were politically subservient and did not pose an expansionist threat to China’s neighbors. PLA officers appeared on television shows and participated in online chats; military bases were opened to foreign journalists; and media outfits with close military ties were given nuggets of information.

This carefully scripted media management of the National Day parade shows the central role that the military media and affiliated civilian defense

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