China Culture

China Culture and Mass Media

Newspapers in China

According to BUSINESSCARRIERS.COM, China is a country located in Asia. China is the world’s largest media market with ever-growing consumption in line with rising prosperity. At the same time, the media is subject to tough state control, such as expresses himself in blocked websites, restrictions on satellite receivers, pressures on foreign media companies and imprisonment of journalists. All media companies also practice self-censorship, even though the boundaries are constantly being stretched. The situation in Hong Kong is better, as freedom of the press is guaranteed in the constitution, but a clear trend towards self-censorship in the media has been noticed after China’s takeover of the colony in 1997.

The state-controlled news agency New China (Xinhua) conveys the image that the authorities want to give of the country. In the case of, for example, party meetings, newspapers must publish New China’s version and must not write their own.

Internet and mobile telephony

With almost 600 million internet users (2013), China is the country in the world with the most Internet connection. Since many global sites such as Google, Facebook, Wikipedia, YouTube and Twitter are banned or censored, the Chinese go to domestic counterparts. Most visitors have Baidu, a web portal with some 60 different services, including a search engine, news release and a user-generated encyclopedia with more articles than English-language Wikipedia. Baidu, founded in 2000, is the world’s fifth largest website and operates in Thailand, Japan and Egypt.

The second largest site is Tencent QQ, a site that offers, among other things. instant messaging accounts. The site has almost 800 million registered users and is also available in French, English and Japanese. QQ is owned by Tencent Holdings, founded in 1998 and one of the world’s largest Internet companies. Another major player on the Internet is Sina, founded in 1998. Sina Weibo, a site that offers microblogging similar to Twitter and has nearly 400 million registered users, many of whom are Chinese speakers outside of China.

Microblogging, in Chinese weibo, has grown dramatically in popularity since 2009 and all the major internet companies offer the service. Just like on Twitter, a weibo has a maximum limit of 140 characters, but since Chinese writing is logographic, a weibo post holds much more information. Many companies and authorities use weibo, but its popularity is mainly because the service plays an important role in spreading news that traditional media cannot report on.

All activities on the Internet are subject to censorship, and the authorities have several thousand employees who monitor what is published. To help you have very advanced technology for eg. filtering of phrases and blocking IP addresses, often referred to as “the Great Chinese Firewall”. This was one of the reasons why Google closed its China-based site in 2010 and moved the servers to Hong Kong.

In 2012, China had over 1 billion mobile subscriptions, which corresponds to a penetration of about 75% of the population. 3G coverage is relatively poor, except in the larger cities, but the networks are expanding rapidly. There are three operators with their own networks, China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom. Apart from China Unicom, where Spanish Telef車nica owns a tenth, they are wholly owned by the state. The biggest is China Mobile, which is also the world’s largest operator in terms of the number of subscribers.

TV and radio

The state-run television company China Central Television (CCTV) was founded in 1958 and broadcasts in some 20 nationwide channels. It is one of the world’s largest broadcasters with about 10,000 employees. In addition, there are more than 2,000 regional and local TV stations, all controlled by the authorities. CCTV also has broadcasts outside China in channels on eg. English, French, Arabic and Russian.

The state-run China National Radio (CNR) was founded by the Communist Party in 1940. CNR broadcasts in 10 channels and all programs are available through the Internet. In addition, there are approximately 2,000 local and regional radio stations, all controlled by the authorities. The state also operates a radio station aimed at other countries, China Radio International (CRI). The radio station broadcasts in 61 different languages, though not Swedish, and was founded in 1941.

The Chinese newspaper market is one of the world’s largest and in 2013 there were about 2,000 daily newspapers, both private and state-owned. The number of newspapers has increased substantially since the beginning of the 1980s, and the same applies to the number of magazines and magazines, which are estimated to amount to about 10,000.

Daily press and magazine

The largest daily newspaper is Cankao Xiaoxi, which is published by the New China News Agency and has a circulation of about 3 million (2013). The second largest is the People’s Daily (Renmin Ribao), which is published by the Central Committee of the Communist Party. Although these magazines are printed in large editions, they are not the most read and they have lost significance to private alternatives. There are also several English-language daily newspapers, including China Daily, founded in 1981, and Global Times, founded in 2009 as an edition of People’s Daily. The largest of the magazines is Duzhe (the Reader) which contains articles and reports and has the ambition to be a Chinese variant of American Reader’s Digest.

China has a long tradition of news distribution and magazines that conveyed injunctions and government submissions have existed since the 7th century. The modern type of daily newspaper emerged in the late 1800s under the influence of the West. Since the 1990s, commercialization has increased, but the power of censorship is strong and privately owned press is seeking self-censorship, even though the limits of what can be written are constantly being stretched.


According to ANIMALERTS, the Chinese civilization that emerged 3500 years ago from the haze of prehistory was an already highly developed Bronze Age culture at the middle of the Yellow River at the edge of the North China Plain. Other cultural centers may have been located in the upper Yangtze Valley and closer to the sea north of present-day Beijing.

For most of its long history, China lived shielded from other advanced civilizations. The Chinese therefore came to see their country as the center of civilization and culture – the Middle Kingdom (Zhongguo). Other people were perceived as barbarians. Unaware of other high cultures, the Chinese, like Europeans, thought they were superior to the outside world.

Two great philosophers, both active in the fifth century BC, gave rise to different traditions that run through China’s culture from ancient to present: Confucianism and Daoism.

Confucius, who spent most of his life teaching, developed his philosophy during conversations with his disciples. Part of Confucius’ discussion with the disciples has been gathered in Conversations with K, which is considered to be the classic work of Confucianism. In Confucius’ doctrine, order, stability and harmony are valued most of all. It is certain that the subordinates are loyal to their superiors, that the wife obeys the husband, the son his father, that the younger obeys the older, and that all obey the emperor, whose orders have the closest divine weight. Confucianism attaches great importance to diligence, virtue and strong family ties. Much of this heritage is still alive in today’s Chinese society.

Daoism was created according to legend by the thinker Lao Zi, the Old Master, who lived shortly before Confucius. However, it is uncertain whether he has ever existed. The doctrine rejects material endeavors, discontents, and desires and commands man to withdraw from the world’s alarm. Daoism has inspired a popular Chinese literary tradition, which has created poetic masterpieces.

The Song of Songs (Shijing) is a famous anthology with poems, compiled in the 500s BC. The subsequent dynasties have all left important imprints in Chinese literature. But more well-known in the West are the novels of the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644): The Three Kingdoms, Stories of the Swamplands, Golden Lotus and the Great Literary Works of the Qing Dynasty The Dream in the Red Pavilion.

A variety of sensational archaeological finds give China a prominent place on the world map of culture. Qin Emperor Shi Huangdi’s (221–210 BC) underground giant armies at Xian, with thousands of clay soldiers in natural size, the Mingke emperors powerful tombs north of Beijing and many other sights are reminiscent of the country’s magnificent past.

The paper, silk, porcelain, compass, seismograph and gunpowder are just some of China’s diverse contributions to humanity. Paper began to be manufactured in China as early as the twentieth century and only reached Europe about a thousand years later.

The literature had a heyday in the 1920s and 1930s, when many writers began to write in everyday spoken language instead of old written language. But Mao Zedong’s 1942 directive that “all literature must serve the purposes of the party” subsequently hampered the authors. During the Cultural Revolution of 1966-1976, all art, literature and music that did not serve the party and communism were banned.

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Even after the beginning of reform policy in 1978, ideological rigor has shifted with greater artistic freedom. The new Chinese film has gained world fame thanks to directors such as Zhang Yimou (The Red Field, Ju Dou – Forbidden Love, The Red Lantern with Multiple Movies) and Chen Kaige (Children’s King, The Yellow Earth with Multiple Films). Jia Zhang-kes movie Still life on the dam building Three ravines (see Natural Resources and Energy) won the 2006 Best Film Award at the Venice Film Festival. In 2014, the thriller Black Coal, thin ice won by director Diao Yinan the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival.

In 2000, a Chinese was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for the first time. Gao Xingjian, whose best-known work is the novels The Mountain of the Andes and The Bible of a Lonely Man, has lived in France since 1988 as a political refugee. In his home country, his books are forbidden. In 2012, another Chinese, Mo Yan, who is active in the country, received the award.

During the 1990s and 2000s, many female writers were noted. Several of them were born in the 1960s and 1970s and depict the young restless generation’s wild life in Beijing, Shanghai and other major cities. Other internationally recognized contemporary Chinese writers include Yu Hua, Han Shaogong, Yang Lianke and Su Tong.



Resident grips

December 27

Nine residents of the village of Wukan are sentenced to two to ten years in prison for disrupting public order. The convicts had participated in protests in September against the arrest of the city’s city councilor Lin Zulian (see July 2016).

Laws must curb environmental degradation

December 26

The National People’s Congress Executive Committee adopts a law that for the first time bans environmental crimes. Fouling of air and water is covered with fines. It is also prohibited to affect the environment with noise. However, carbon dioxide emissions, one of the largest climate controls, are not covered by the new law.

China captures underwater drones

December 15

The incident, which occurs on international waters of the South China Sea, is one of the most serious military confrontations in several years. The US Department of Defense requires the drone to be returned immediately. The drone was reportedly used for scientific purposes. The parties subsequently reach an agreement on a surrender.

Diplomatic concern after phone call

December 3

US President Donald Trump chooses to answer a phone call from Taiwan’s President Tsai. It violates US diplomatic practice since 1979, when the United States established its “China policy,” severed official relations with Taiwan and severed ties with the People’s Republic of China instead. China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi first diminishes the importance of the telephone call by calling it “a little trick” from Taiwan’s president. Shortly thereafter, however, China makes a written complaint to the US government. The White House responds by assuring China that it does not intend to deviate from a China policy.


Court disqualifies parliamentarians

November 16

The Hong Kong Supreme Court confirms that the two members of Youngspiration may not take a seat in LegCo.

Demonstrations in Hong Kong

November 13

Tens of thousands of people are demonstrating to express their support for Hong Kong being part of China and to distance themselves from those seeking independence for the region.

Silent protest march in Hong Kong

November 8

A couple of thousand black-clad lawyers and activists demonstrate on the streets of Hong Kong after Beijing, through a law interpretation, prevented two Youngspiration independence activists from taking a seat in the LegCo Legislative Assembly.

Beijing stops Hong Kong parliamentarians

November 6

After several weeks of controversy in connection with activists from the newly formed party Youngspiration to be sworn into the LegCo Legislative Assembly, the leadership in Beijing intervenes and stops two activists from taking a seat in LegCo. Beijing decides, through a new interpretation of the law, that members may not sit in Legco unless they have taken the oath when they are sworn in as new parliamentarians correctly. The two activists from Youngspiration had previously had their oaths annulled at a ceremony, when, among other things, they had stated that Hong Kong was not part of China.


Uyghur professor receives human rights award

October 11

Ilham Tohti, who is serving a life sentence for “separatism” (see October 2014), received the Martin Ennals Prize for his long work to “create dialogue and understanding between Uyghurs and Han Chinese.”

President Xi is renamed

October 24th

At the Communist Party Central Committee’s four-day long meeting, the President is designated as “the core of the Central Committee”. Former leaders Deng Xiaoping, Mao Zedong and Jiang Zemin have been given this title, but not Hu Jintao. At the same time, the importance of a “collective leadership” is emphasized by the party.


Car conductor sentenced to prison

September 8

Lin Zuluan’s former village leader in Wukan is sentenced to three years in prison for corruption. Lin was arrested in June and after his arrest several demonstrations were held in Wukan. Lin was one of the leaders of the people’s uprising in Wukan 2011, when villagers protested against party camps’ land takeovers and managed to get the right to appoint their own leaders in local elections (see also December 2011).

Activists become parliamentarians in Hong Kong

September 4th

In the Legco election in Hong Kong, candidates are selected from new parties, Demosisto and Youngspiration, which have their roots in the so-called umbrella movement that organized the protests in 2014. However, as before, the Council will still be dominated by Beijing-friendly members.


Leaders of Hong Kong protests receive community service

August 15th

Two of the three student leaders (see 21/7) are sentenced to about one hundred hours of community service, while the third is to spend three weeks in jail.

China blocks UN resolution against North Korea

9th of August

In protest of South Korea’s plans for a US missile defense, Beijing chooses to oppose a Security Council resolution condemning the latest trial of a missile in North Korea in early August.

Trials against human rights advocates

1 August

The government’s hard line against human rights lawyers, which has continued since the beginning of the year, continues. Attorney Zhou Shifeng, who, among other things, defended well-known regime opponents, is sentenced to seven years in prison for community outrage. Another lawyer, Wang Yu, is released after publicly acknowledging that she conspired against the regime and dismissed an international legal award for her human rights work. During the trial week in Tianjin, another human rights activist is sentenced to seven years in prison for threatening the Communist Party’s rule while also punishing a Christian activist.


Military commander gets life imprisonment

July 25

Guo Boxiong, a former member of the Politburo, was for a decade the Vice President of the Central Military Commission, the military PLA’s highest body.

City Council is accused of corruption

July 22nd

The popular Lin Zulian elected to the Wukan City Council after leading the protests against the local party government where 2011 (see December 2011 and March-April 2012) is being prosecuted for corruption.

Three convicted for Hong Kong protests

July 21st

Three leaders of the so-called umbrella movement in Hong Kong are found guilty of illegally gathering people for demonstrations in Hong Kong during the protests there in 2014 (see further Hong Kong) The penalty for young student leaders is expected to come on August 15.

UN verdict goes against China

July 12

After four years of work, the UN Permanent Arbitration Tribunal in The Hague announces its verdict in the Philippines-China conflict over China’s claim of 85 percent of territorial waters in the area. The Court goes on the Philippines’ line and states that the Chinese claims “have no legal basis”. Chinese President Xi Jinping announces that China rejects the verdict and will not accept any documents based on this decision. China also claims to have the right to set up an air defense zone in the conflict area and announces that it is now launching regular air surveillance there.

China criticizes South Korea’s missile defense plans

July 8

The message from South Korea and the US that the US missile defense system THAAD should be used in South Korea to protect against North Korean missiles is met by fierce protests from Beijing. The use of this will increase regional tensions and be seen as a threat to China’s security interests


Incident with American fighter aircraft

May 17

An American aircraft carrying out maritime surveillance in the area around the South China Sea is forced to make a strong maneuver to avoid a collision with two Chinese fighter aircraft. The US plane is in international airspace, according to the US Department of Defense.


Xi Jinping gets new title

April 25

Xi will henceforth be able to call himself the commander-in-chief of the military command center for joint operations.

Criticism of overproduction of steel

The United States is criticizing China for producing too much steel that is sold at under-prices on the world market. In the past, production has mainly been used in the country, but the declining demand in China has led to steel instead of exporting. One problem is that the Chinese steel giants are subsidized by the state. The consequence has been that producers from other countries are eliminated. Canada, the EU, the US, Japan and a few other countries selling steel require that something be done about the problem.

G7 statement on the South China Sea criticized

April 11

Foreign ministers from the United States, Canada, Italy, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Japan write in a joint statement that they are concerned about tensions in the East and South China Sea, where there are alleged violations and provocations and construction on islands, including for military purposes. Although China is not explicitly singled out, Beijing responds by strongly criticizing the statement, which it believes is “inflating tensions in the region”, calling on the Japanese ambassador and envoys from the other countries to receive the criticism.

Political relatives are designated as tax evaders

The Panama Papers, a survey conducted on tax evasion by investigative journalists from several countries, shows that relatives of, among others, Xi Jinping, former Prime Minister Li Peng, Bo Xilai and other well-known politicians have moved money into bank accounts outside the country. They have been assisted by the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, who has worked in China for over a decade. The news is censored by the authorities in China.

Trade is restricted with North Korea

Following the introduction of new UN sanctions against North Korea in March, the government announces that it will ban imports of gold and rare minerals from the country, as well as exports of oil and fuel related to the North Korean nuclear weapons program.


Finansmagasin reports censorship

The well-known and respected journal Caixin must have published an article on its English-language internet site stating that an article on freedom of expression in which a delegate from the People’s Consultative Conference declared that members there should have the right to express themselves more openly. Later, the article on censorship was also removed from the English-language page.

Internal letters require Xi’s departure

A well-known journalist, Jia Jia, with about 85,000 followers on social media is reported to have been arrested by the police. The arrest is said to be linked to a letter of widespread criticism of President Xi Jinping posted on the Watching news site. The letter, which was immediately removed, urged Xi to resign. Jia has not written the letter himself but is said to have warned colleagues about the letter. Jia is released by the police after two weeks. Another fifteen persons are reported to be interviewed by the authorities in connection with the publication of the letter.

New five-year plan adopted

March 16

The National People’s Congress ends its annual meeting approving a five-year plan for economic development with the goal of having annual growth of between 6.5 and 7 percent by 2020. Among the priorities for the period are financial market reforms, making state-owned enterprises more efficient and reduce debt.

Statistics on corruption

In 2015, around 200,000 officials should have received mild punishment for corruption, while 80,000 were sentenced for more serious crimes.


Trial against Hong Kong activists

February 29th

Three democracy activists who participated in the demonstrations in the fall of 2014 are facing trial in Hong Kong on suspicion of breaking into the government headquarters in connection with the student protests.


The governor of Sichuan resigns

January 20th

Wei Hong is suspected of “serious disciplinary crimes” (often equivalent to corruption), the Communist Party reports.

President Xi visits the Middle East

In the Saudi capital Riyadh, China and Saudi Arabia agree on a new so-called strategic partnership. Among other things, the countries’ oil companies sign extensive cooperation agreements. During his tour, President Xi also visits Iran and Egypt.

New strike against human rights lawyers

Authorities continue to fight and try to intimidate lawyers defending human rights activists and regime critics, a tactic that began in the summer of 2015. One of the country’s best-known lawyers, Wang Yu, who defended several human rights activists, is arrested on January 14 accused of community outrage. Another handful of human rights lawyers, who disappeared without a trace in the summer of 2015, were formally prosecuted for community outrage at the beginning of the month. A Swedish man, who leads an organization that assists legal aid to vulnerable groups, is also reportedly being held in custody by Chinese authorities (he will be released on January 26). In addition, there are five bookstores in Hong Kong, of which one is a Swedish citizen. The missing are linked to a bookstore that sells literature that is critical of the Beijing regime. There are suspicions that Chinese security services are behind the disappearances and that the mainland is thus violating Hong Kong’s self-determination. A few days later, one of the missing bookstores, the Swedish citizen, appears in Chinese state television. He states that he voluntarily sought out Chinese police because he was involved in a car accident several years ago when a fellow passenger was killed. He must have received a conditional two-year prison sentence after the car accident but then left China.

China Culture

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