Are Chinese Media a Public Nuisance?
Recently Kong Qingdong (孔庆东), a China studies professor at Peking University, remarked, while discussing the freewheeling Nanfang Media Group, “Right now journalists are a major public nuisance in our country. If these journalists were all lined up and shot, I would feel heartache for not a single one of them.” China Media Project reports on the debates that ensued:
Kong’s remarks were in response to a question posed to him about statements made by Wang Lijun (王立军), the top official in Chongqing’s Public Security Bureau, during a police conference on October 16, 2010. In his speech, Wang Lijun said that in the future his agency would launch a lawsuit against any media and journalist who attacked the reputation of the Chongqing Public Security Bureau or the civil police force (民警). If individual civil police officers were singled out for attack, said Wang, the officers would bring a suit against the journalist responsible in the courts, and the Public Security Bureau would sue the media organization.
Wang Lijun’s threats, now referred to as his “double action theory,” or shuang qi lun (双起论), sparked a discussion in China’s media about increasing pressures facing the practice of “supervision by public opinion,” or yulun jiandu (舆论监督), the use of the media to monitor power.
Professor Kong’s remarks on the media and journalists essentially threw support behind the hardline attitude of Chongqing’s top police official.
Following Kong Qingdong’s attack on the media, Chinese came out on both sides of the argument, some agreeing that the media had become a problem and others arguing that the monitoring of social and political issues is an important role of the news media. Many Chinese seemed to agree, in any case, that the tenor of Kong’s criticism was uncivil — and unbefitting a professor at a leading Chinese university.