Quotable: Perry Link on China’s media controls
Sunday, November 29th 2015
In a recent article, Perry Link reviewed the two statements issued by the PRC’s Xi Jinping and Taiwan’s Ma Ying-jeou following their November 5 meeting in Singapore. “What Xi and Ma Really Said” wrung out meanings and implications of the word choices made by the two. Link is Professor Emeritus of East Asian Studies at Princeton University. The whole article --- from the ChinaFile website on November 17, 2015 -- demonstrated the importance of deep language skills in diplomacy and communication. Here, however, is Link’s opening description of media control in China.
The Chinese government employs hundreds of thousands of people at all administrative levels, central to local, to prescribe and monitor how news stories are presented to the public. These people tell editors of newspapers and web pages not only what stories to run, but also what words and phrases to use, how to write headlines, and what page a story should appear on. They further prescribe what words must not be used, which stories not be published, and which stories allowed but “downplayed.” The more politically important a story is, the closer the scrutiny is. The attention given to national-level slogans and top policy announcements is meticulous. Elite word workers study them from nearly every possible angle.