August 7, 2013, by Tony Hong

Positiveness in the China Daily

By Yvonne Nijenhuis,

Studying Media and Culture at the University of Amsterdam Holland.

Keeping myself up-to-date of the latest news during the summer school made me a fanatic reader of the China Daily. Besides the latest Chinese news, did it also give a good impression of the Chinese view on contemporary global issues. Instead of an endless flow of depressing articles about war or mistreated people (the news I’m used to from the Dutch newspapers and other Western media), does the China Daily make his reader feel comfortable. At the front page on the website are five articles in the spotlight and they mostly contain positive news or at least the articles will have an optimistic title. As an example I’ll take today’s (2nd of July 2013) front page: two articles about the latest victories of Chinese sports(wo)men, an article about the release of the newest Christian Dior collection in Paris (with a Chinese-looking model in front of the picture) and an article about the Egypt army who is willing to stop the crisis. Even the rainstorms that are tempting the north of China were given a positive shape by the picture (Fig. 1) that was accompanying the article. Though the article mentioned 39 dead and 19 people missing, the picture showed three men dragging a pig through the water while they keep smiling. As if they are sure of a happy ending.

Figure 1

These few articles seem representative for the majority of articles that crossed my eyes during my recent times at the website. A clear explanation of this focus on positiveness could be that the newspaper is controlled by the government and has to follow the official policy of the PRC. This gives little space for critique wherefore free expression of thoughts and opinions are needed. Besides the restrictions of the government there could also be a commercial explanation. The readers of China Daily might prefer an article about a 92-year-old Taoist man who still walks pilgrimages (Fig. 2) or the latest gossips on Paris Hilton or Andy Lau. The tab with entertainment news has a very attractive central place in pink colour on the front page at the website.

Figure 2

China Daily could be an example of the way news is brought in contemporary China: a combination of following the government and commercialism. On the one hand is the newspaper attracting readers by giving them the entertainment news they like, at the other hand are serious issues discussed while following the official policies on these topics. These combination of free-market and “old” communist propaganda style seems typical for the contemporary media in Chinese society. Steering the Chinese population by using soft power policies through media is not exclusively Chinese, but its clear visibility in the form of the China Daily is something I didn’t expect on forehand.

So what do I think after all these critical notes on the national Chinese newspaper? I still like it. Even though the lack of real criticism is obvious and it won’t be my first and only source for news, I liked to read a Chinese perspective on especially global news. Even more did I like it that the optimism in the articles seem to represent the optimism I’ve seen in many faces of the Chinese people on the street or in the public transport. Maybe the slightly exaggerated positiveness helps the people to make the seemingly optimistic future become real. That couldn’t be anything but positive.  

Cited Works

China Daily, 1st of July 2013, photo taken by Xinhua Press:

China Daily, 1st of July 2013, photo taken by CFP:


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