Xinhua Editorial Emphasizes the Press Must be Allowed to Supervise the Party, Provided it Does so for the Benefit of the Party (story in Chinese)

September 20, 2004

This month's edition of "China Journalist" (a monthly publication of Xinhua) includes an editorial (in Chinese) discussing the role of "supervision of public opinion." Written by Cuo Jinchang, Xinhua's deputy secretary, and Lu Feng, deputy director of Xinhua's economics bureau, the article provides a brief history of this concept and discusses its current status. It also reaffirms that "supervision of public opinion" must be done in a manner that reinforces the authority of the Chinese Communist Party.

In 1989 the Communist Party defined the term "supervision of public opinion" as "the masses of people going through the news media to publicly implement democratic supervision of the Party and the government with Party and government personnel . . ." According to the editorial, the concept first appeared in an official Communist Party document in 1987, which gave it an expansive meaning to include not only critical reporting, but also reports on Party affairs, government activities, and important events.

Although the authors emphasize the need for China's media to be able to report critically on the Party and the government, the editorial is also careful to point out that all such reporting "must be implemented on the principle that it conform to the overall benefit of the Communist Party . . ." The authors point to Article 33 of the "Interim Rules on Chinese Communist Party Internal Supervision," (in Chinese) (distributed internally in December 2003 (in Chinese) and publicly promulgated in February 2004) which state "Under the leadership of the Party, the news media shall, in accordance with relevant regulations and procedures, utilize internal notices or public reports, give free rein to functions of supervision of public opinion." (emphasis added)

The editorial also states that, "The implementation of proper supervision of public opinion must be carried out in a manner that benefits the Party's line, direction, and policies . . . and encourages the strengthening of the people's faith in the Party and the government."