How to Do Propaganda Work for a Foreign Audience
In recent years, “external propaganda” (外宣) has become an increasingly important function in the Chinese Communist Party and government. From the Central Committee to every level of the Party and Government, external propaganda agencies are in charge of controlling and manipulating information and messages, especially towards foreigners, as opposed to the normal propaganda agencies whose primary audience is domestic citizens. The following transcript can help overseas readers understand how these agencies function today. Following is an internal speech by a Party leader of Suixi County government at the county’s external propaganda conference. Suixi is a county with a population of one million sixty thousand in northern Anhui Province. The speech transcript is posted on Olympic Express blog, and the following selected excerpts are translated by CDT:
… The current situation for external propaganda: A grand development needs a grand opening, and a grand opening needs grand external propaganda. At present our country is in the grand development and opening up period, especially for the 2008 Olympic year. The State Council has published interview regulations for the foreign media, who are allowed to do free interviews once the interviewees accept the interview requests. It is a period of economic transformation and social transition in China. Thus, our Anhui Suixi county as well as our nation are in a critical period for speeding up the development. At the same time problems are more concentrated, contradictions are more prominent. And the development tasks require us to work hard to eliminate noise and interference to ensure the big picture of development without any negative impact.
…We should also take vigorous action to publicize and promote Suixi, establish a new image, and enhance visibility… The current mission of the external propaganda is to effectively promote each region, each sector to the outside world, in order to attract outside investors’ attention and build up outside investors’ confidence. We can safely say that the purpose of doing external propaganda work is to attract outside investment and undertake commercial projects.
…The Information Center of the county government must strengthen the Internet news management, and do a good job in selecting, filtering and transmitting information from different work units. It must quickly block, divert and respond to bad public opinion and information online, under the principles of unity, stability and positive inspiration. In the meantime, it must strengthen the positive online propaganda, using mainstream, positive opinion to influence and guide netizens.
…Strictly follow the discipline of external propoganda. External propaganda requires strong political sensitivity, policy understanding, strategic thinking and disciplinary work. Theoretical discussions may have no taboos, but external propaganda has discipline. Discipline is the lifeline of external propaganda and the assurance that the political mission and social responsibility of external propaganda will be achieved. Every county, township and each department must make sure to control and reduce negative news. You must be the propoganda person, and the fire extinguisher. You must take care of your responsible territory, and quickly handle any problems. External propaganda work must have rules, have procedures, and have discipline. Events which violate the discipline must not be allowed. One must have correct guidance on public opinion, and insist that unity and inspiration, and promotion of the positive spirit, form the mainstream opinion and guide the social tendency. [Full Text in Chinese]
[Image source: Party cadres of Suixi County, from ycs.gov.cn]