China's propaganda division one of the world's most intrusive
(Invisible black hand controls all said, done)
by Peter Goodspeed, National Post, Oct 16, 2010

China’s thought police are so omnipresent Chinese dissidents refer to them as the “dark empire” or the “invisible black hand".

Operating from an unmarked office complex at 5 West Chang’an Ave. in Beijing, not far from Tiananmen Square and the senior party leaders’ residence compound known as Zhongnanhai, China’s Central Propaganda Department runs one of the most intrusive and all-pervasive social monitoring systems in the world.

The department controls all state-run culture, education, sport, science and technology, health and media sectors in China. It supervises the work of all mass organizations, ranging from trade unions to artists co-ops, and it runs branch offices at all levels of the Chinese bureaucracy. Yet the department has no real legal basis in China’s constitution and is accountable to no one but China’s collective leadership, who have authorized the propaganda department to oversee the implementation of current ideology in China.

“The role of the propaganda system in the current era in China is akin to that of the church in medieval Europe,” says Anne-Marie Brady, a China expert who wrote the book Marketing Dictatorship: Propaganda Thought in Contemporary China.

The department monitors, instructs and censors all of China’s newspapers, magazines, film, television and radio broadcasting, the Internet, the publishing industry and all aspects of cultural and information production.

On a weekly and daily basis, propaganda officials tell journalists and media executives what topics they can cover, the correct words to use and who should or should not be allowed to voice an opinion.

The editors-in-chief of all China’s major publications must attend a weekly meeting in the propaganda department’s Beijing headquarters at which they receive instructions on which stories to emphasize, downplay or not report at all.

During the week, editors receive a stream of instructions via e-mail or telephone on how to play stories, what headlines to write and what articles must be removed from websites.

“For their own reasons, they violate our constitution, often ordering by telephone that the words of such and such a person can not be published or that such and such an event can not be reported in the media,” says an open letter released this week by 23 former high-ranking government officials who are demanding greater press freedom and stricter guarantees for free speech.

“The officials who make the call do not leave their names and the secrecy of the agents is protected, but you must heed their phone instructions,” says the letter. Otherwise, the “invisible black hands” that run the Propaganda Department can demote, fine, fire, harass and jail journalists and editors and close publications that don’t follow the department’s unwritten rules. “The department’s reach is so broad and deep it has a central guiding role over the whole of Chinese society,” Ms. Brays said.

China's propaganda division one of the world's most intrusive, National Post, Oct 16, 2010






20.Thought Police & Snitches (Nothing is efficient in Oceania except the Thought Police....A Party member lives from birth to death under the eye of the Thought Police. Even when he is alone he can never be sure that he is alone. Wherever he may be, asleep or awake, working or resting, in his bath or in bed, he can be inspected without warning and without knowing that he is being inspected. Nothing that he does is indifferent. His friendships, his relaxations, his behaviour towards his wife and children, the expression of his face when is alone, the words he mutters in sleep, even the characteristic movements of his body, are all jealously scrutinized. Not only any actual misdemeanour, but any eccentricity, however small, any change of habits, any nervous mannerism that could possibly be the symptom of an inner struggle, is certain to be detected. He has no freedom of choice in any direction whatever. Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres inside you skull. The person in the next table could be a spy of the Thought Police....

16.Ministry of Truth (...The Ministry of Truth concerned itself with Lies. Party ownership of the print media made it easy to manipulate public opinion, and the film and radio carried the process further. The primary job of the Ministry of Truth was to supply the citizens of Oceania with newspapers, films, textbooks, telescreen programmes, plays, novels - with every conceivable kind of information, instruction, or entertainment, from a statue to a slogan, from a lyric poem to a biological treatise, and from a child's spelling-book to a Newspeak dictionary....Winston worked in the RECORDS DEPARTMENT (a single branch of the Ministry of Truth) editing and writing for The Times. He dictated into a machine called a speakwrite. Winston would receive articles or news-items which for one reason or another it was thought necessary to alter, or, in Newspeak, rectify. If, for example, the Ministry of Plenty forecast a surplus, and in reality the result was grossly less, Winston's job was to change previous versions so the old version would agree with the new one. This process of continuous alteration was applied not only to newspapers, but to books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, films, sound-tracks, cartoons, photographs - to every kind of literature or documentation which might conceivably hold any political or ideological significance....

In the cubicle next to Winston the little woman with sandy hair toiled day in day out, simply at tracking down and deleting from the Press the names of people who had been vaporized and were therefore considered never to have existed. And this hall, with its fifty workers or thereabouts, was only one-sub-section, a single cell, as it were, in the huge complexity of the Records Department. Beyond, above, below, were other swarms of workers engaged in an unimaginable multitude of jobs. There were huge printing-shops and their sub editors, their typography experts, and their elaborately equipped studios for the faking of photographs. There was the tele-programmes section with its engineers, its producers and its teams of actors specially chosen for their skill in imitating voices; clerks whose job was simply to draw up lists of books and periodicals which were due for recall; vast repositories where the corrected documents were stored; and the hidden furnaces where the original copies were destroyed. And somewhere or other, quite anonymous, there were the directing brains who co-ordinated the whole effort and laid down the lines of policy which made it necessary that this fragment of the past should be preserved, that one falsified, and the other rubbed out of existence....)

25.Prolefeed (...The Ministry of Truth had not only to supply the multifarious needs of the Party, but also to repeat the whole operation at a lower level for the benefit of the Proletariat. There was a whole chain of separate departments dealing with proletarian literature, music, drama, and entertainment generally. Here were produced rubbishy newspapers, containing almost nothing except sport, crime, and astrology, sensational five-cent novelettes and films oozing with sex. The rubbishy entertainment and spurious news which the Party handed out to the masses was referred to as 'prolefeed'. Those who worked in the FICTION DEPARTMENT, could describe the whole process of composing a novel, from the general directive issued by the Planning Committee down to the final touch-up by the Rewrite Squad. Books were just a commodity that had to be produced, like jam or bootlaces.

There was even a whole sub-section - Pornosec, it was called in Newspeak - engaged in producing the lowest kind of pornography, which was sent out in sealed packets and which no Party member, other than those who worked on it, was permitted to look at. It was nicknamed the Muck House by those who worked there. It produced titles like 'Spanking Stories' or 'One Night in a Girls' School', to be bought furtively by proletarian youths who were under the impression that they were buying something illegal. At school they had sex talks once a month for the over-sixteen and rubbed it into youth for years. Songs were published for the benefit of the proles by a sub-section of the MUSIC DEPARTMENT. The words of these songs were composed without any human intervention whatever on an instrument known as a versificator.)

Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~