Former journalist Dong Guanpeng, once a famous China Central Television (CCTV) anchor, was busy one afternoon last August answering questions from the foreign reporters in Beijing. He talked in a friendly and colloquial way. His attire was casual but elegant, and he made jokes and acted with grace. The qualities fit perfectly with his public relations role, but are rare in the organization he represents: the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Dong is a top adviser on the Chinese government’s communication and media policy. He also teaches at the State Council’s National School of Administration and is the director of Tsinghua University’s Global Journalism Institute. His work is part of CCP efforts to strength its public support using communication strategies of the 21st century.
The Foreign Correspondents Club of China (FCCC) hosted Dong’s speech and it was an unusual occasion to listen to a first-hand description of the CCP’s communications strategy. The FCCC announced that Global Times editor Wang Wen – Global Times is a CCP newspaper published in English – was going to give a speech together with Dong. But at the very last moment, Wang withdrew his participation, officially because he was not aware that the conference was on the record.