Heads must be exploding all over China. Two different views in one statement.
Beijing plans to be more open this year but will retain strict control over the Internet.
According to Wang Chen, director of the State Council Information Office, the Chinese government will expand the use of government spokespeople, boost the overseas reach of state media, and further promote the use of microblogs to interact with the public.
What that means is there will be more people hired by the government to tell reporters what to print and broadcast. There will also be more propaganda pieces placed in foreign media disguised as “news” stories from China. And many of the new propaganda office hires will be responsible for keeping track what people say on micro-blogs and immediately countering anything that deviates from the official party line.
I love the quote from Wang: “In this new year, we will adopt an even more open attitude and even more forceful policies.”
Not sure about the “open” but the “forceful” should be expected.
According to the AP:
Wang said news and information about government’s day-to-day activities as well as emergency responses would be expanded and systematized. Spokesmen would receive intensified training with an emphasis on obtaining first-hand information rather than simply passing on information from other departments, he said.
The break down on that is simple:
- The government will gather the information and do its damnedest to make sure only the “proper” spin is released to the public.
- First-hand information from a disaster site is not to be trusted.
- Only reports from the central office are allowed.
And then there is controlling that nasty old Internet.
Wang said the government would compel those opening new micro blog accounts in Beijing and other major cities to use their real names and other information. The requirement would later be expanded to cover those with existing accounts, he said… “Our only purpose is to ensure the rapid, healthy expansion of the Chinese Internet,” he said.
Oh. And the requirement also makes sure the government can track down and intimidate or arrest anyone not toeing the central government’s line.