Capitalism And Free Press

The Chinese are finding out it's difficult to have one without the other:

The future of China's most independent and outspoken publication is in doubt following a mass walkout of its commercial staff and rumours that many members of its editorial team are planning to follow them out of the door.

Under Ms Hu's leadership, Caijing has forged a reputation for hard-hitting exposés of corruption, a rarity in China's state-owned and heavily censored media industry. Ms Hu has also banned her journalists at the magazine, which comes out every two weeks, from accepting payments from the people or companies they report on, a practice that is common in Chinese journalism.
People familiar with the situation said many editorial staff had quit as well. These people said Ms Hu had found a publisher for a magazine she was planning to set up, and staff were waiting to join her there.

As Jim Pinkerton is wont to proclaim, information wants to be free. Information consumers will naturally migrate their purchases towards reliable, unencumbered sources.

This will be an interesting decade in mainland China. The new generation of middle-class Chinese have mostly been successfully indoctrinated with nationalism, but that doesn't mean they will tolerate open repression of popular media figures. It's an open question how much longer the current situation can persist.

posted by Dave on 10.14.09 at 01:09 PM


Markets need reliable information, but the CCP views reliable information as a threat, or at least various functionaries view reliable information as a threat.

This actually demonstrates how bureaucratic authoritarianism has more problems with maintaining legitimacy and efficacy than a traditional tyranny. The leaders can't crack down on the functionaries as that threatens the legitimacy of the party-bureaucracy from which the leaders emerged. A charismatic figure can have inspectors to curb the predations of bureaucrats as he has a direct relationship with the people and the bureaucracy relies on him for legitimacy.

The Politburo needs independent media and crusading lawyers to keep the venal provincial underlings in check so that the populace doesn't revolt, but they have to muzzle and persecute media and lawyers so that the venal provincial underlings don't revolt. They are doomed, but it's going to be messy for the rest of us.

Hey   ·  October 15, 2009 2:50 PM

I teach at a university is SW China; recently we've been doing a textbook unit on personal values. It's interesting some of the blind spots the students have: the difference between nationalism and patriotism is impossible for them to define, they openly question whether the one party system is best but they can't articulate any alternatives and in their essays they frequently state that they have classes in Marxism, but they don't believe in it. The concept of a "loyal opposition" that criticizes the government policy while being loyal to the nation is completely alien to them too, they have great difficulty understanding that.

I completely agree with you, it's going to get interesting here.

Rob   ·  October 16, 2009 9:27 AM

Thanks for your input Rob, very interesting to get a ground-level view,

My experience with Chinese people that age is similar. I dated a girl from Beijing in college in the 1990s, she was basically apolitical but when we were watching, say, The Daily Show (this was the Craig Kilborn days, PBUH), was somewhat shocked that such things could be said.

Dave Price   ·  October 16, 2009 12:28 PM

I miss the Craig Kilborn Daily Show. He was one funny dude on that show.

He was a lefty, but he went after everybody and had a sense of humor.

I couldn't take Jon Stewart from the get go, before he was all political.
He's just not funny.

Veeshir   ·  October 17, 2009 6:44 AM

Post a comment

April 2011
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30


Search the Site


Classics To Go

Classical Values PDA Link


Recent Entries


Site Credits