Communist Party mouthpiece Global Times has said that state-owned media must follow the party line as “guidance” and for the “encouragement of creativity”, in an op-ed piece published on Monday. It follows Chinese President Xi Jinping’s high-profile tour of state media headquarters last week.
Xi’s visits, which included CCTV, People’s Daily and Xinhua News Agency, were widely seen as the leader’s move to reaffirm the party’s tight grip on media.
In the op-ed, Global Times stated that “media reports should not promote wrong thoughts or harm the Party’s governance ability and efficiency.” It added that party principles should not be seen as “censorship of media reports but as guidance and encouragement of creativity.”
Following Xi’s tour, CCTV spent 19 minutes during its half-hour evening newscast “exclusively” reporting on his visit. It mostly repeated Xi’s comments during a meeting with editors and reporters, emphasising the need for the media to adhere to party lines.
The visit came weeks after Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called for the European Union to sanction CCTV and Xinhua for broadcasting and publishing a series of”forced confessions” by people detained by the state.
Peter Dahlin, a Swedish national and a member of the Chinese Urgent Action Working Group, was seen “admitting” on state media that he “violated Chinese law” following his participation in human rights activities in the mainland.
Gui Minhai, one of the five staff members at the Causeway Bay Bookstore who went missing, also appeared on Chinese TV in January “confessing” to a decade-old crime.
Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk, said the events showed that “CCTV and Xinhua became mass propaganda weapons and cease de facto to be a news media.” He added that both media organisations represented a threat to freely produced news in mainland China.
Last year, RSF’s press freedom index ranked China 176th out of 180 countries, ranking it only above Syria, Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea.