State Council vice-minister reiterates control as top priority of Internet development in China

By David Bandurski – In a meeting attended today by representatives from top Web portals across China, Cai Mingzhao (蔡名照), vice-minister of the State Council Information Office, underscored four priorities for Internet development in the country following the party’s recent 17th National Congress. At the top of the list: propaganda control, or “grasping correct guidance” (把握正确导向).

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[ABOVE: Screenshot of QQ.com coverage of Cai Mingzhao’s December 4 address to an official Internet forum in Hainan.]

Consistent with state media policy under Hu Jintao, Cai’s speech emphasized the need for commercial development of the Internet even as control remained the paramount priority.

While Cai said Internet media needed “first to have a firm grasp of correct guidance, creating a favorable online opinion environment for the building of a harmonious society,” he also emphasized the “need to build a main online media force (网络媒体主力军) with comprehensive strength, major influence and broad coverage”.

The latter phrase, with it militaristic metaphors, invoked Hu’s policy of media strengthening, or zuoqiang zuoda (做强做大), which calls for the creation of integrated media groups that are at once commercially powerful and mindful of party propaganda discipline. These groups, which party officials believe are necessary to compete globally with the likes of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, have been referred to as “aircraft carriers” (航空母舰).

The third and fourth priorities Cai listed in his speech were as follows:

3) Promoting the coordinated development of content and technology, striving to increase the core competitiveness of online media (三是要推动内容和技术协调发展,不断增强网络媒体的核心竞争力)
4) Renewing mechanisms and systems and strengthening the ability of online media to achieve sustainable development (四是要创新机制体制,增强网络媒体的可持续发展能力).

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