One of the more fashionable myths circulating nowadays is that the CCP is relinquishing its iron-fisted grip on the media. Would that it were so. Should you still harbor doubts, check out this short but revealing update, proving that in China, the more things change the more they truly do stay the same. (Needless to say, you won’t be able to access this article in China.)
There is no change. There is no press freedom. The extraordinary hope that some felt during the sudden openness during the SARS crisis was built on sand. All such hopes have been predictably quashed, and I wouldn’t be surprised if things actually get worse, at least for a while, as the CCP strives to make sure this is well understood: China’s media exist to make its leaders look good and preserve the lie of national harmony. Period. Full-stop. If a reporter makes the Party look not-so-good, he can expect swift retribution. The fossilized leadership is as hysterically paranoid of press coverage today as it was under Mao.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.