“If you have to get married, marry a man like Uncle Xi” – is the slogan of a video posted on Youku – the Chinese Youtube -, which has received over 60 thousand views and as many comments. A true success on the media, a tune designed specifically to promote the image of a leader who cannot be questioned. In fact, the Xi in question is the president of the Chinese Democratic Republic, Xi Jingping, a politician who has his own idea of journalism, the press, and his own concept of freedom in general.
In China, in fact, many things forbidden by the Communist Party: you cannot access Facebook or Twitter. Movies or TV shows that talk about homosexuality and extramarital sex are banned, you cannot show people who drink alcohol or conduct police investigations. Almost all big American productions are forbidden too, and even famous actors, such as Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, and Brad Pitt, guilty of having supported the cause of Tibetan independence.
Compliance with these rules is controlled by a specific organ, the Sartf, which checks the press and television and who has studied the appropriate models to focus public attention on the great work of the Communist Party and that of President Jingping. Pop tunes, slogans in English, rap songs, they are all attempts to present the choices and operation of the Chinese government in a “modern” and appealing way. There is only one essential requirement: Xi Jingping is the best leader in the world, all the newspapers talk about him (in a good way) and no one can contradict the decisions of the Party.
The desire to totally control the Chinese media was manifested clearly in February, with the visit of President Jingping to the national press agency “New China” and to the state television CCTV, an event that has attracted the attention of the media around the world: Chinese journalists quickly announced the news via Twitter. Too bad that these 140 characters were read only abroad, since social networks are blocked on the Chinese territory. It is pretty much of a paradox, but it explains very well the situation of the freedom of the press and opinion in China.
Journalists are the ones who pay the heaviest consequences of this censorship. The organization Reporters Without Borders ranked China 176th out of 180 countries as far as freedom of the press is concerned, followed only by Syria, Turkmenistan, North Korea, and Eritrea. Beijing, however, holds also the dubious primacy for the imprisonment of journalists with 49 journalists arrested because they were considered dangerous to the power of the party. The last, scanalous case is that of Jia Jia, a political commentator who worked for the Tencent site and who suddenly disappeared leaving no trace: the man was supposed to catch a plane that would have taken him to Hong Kong, but did not show up at the airport and his wife denounced his disappearance. Jia Jia was considered to be the author of a letter calling for the resignation of President Xi Jinping, which had been published on a government site, then immediately removed.
Meanwhile, the president visits the television, shakes hands, and congratulates himself with the media on their work: “yours is an international team and I hope you are able to explain the economic and social development China is experiencing clearly, objectively, and honestly,” the president said during a meeting with the journalists of CCTV, China’s central television, sitting at the desk of one of the most followed television programs in the world, “Xinwen Lianbo”.
“We must improve the quality of information to spread the will of the party and to protect unity and authority,” – Jingping finished his thought, applauded by dozens of fawning journalists who have no other choice but to bow to censorship and the logic the single thought. A slap in the face of all those colleagues who have lost their jobs, friends, life, because of their absurd desire to tell the truth, let the world know the working and freedom conditions in the communist country.
“Without freedom of the press, all other freedoms become illusory”, Marx said about the right to spread the news. While in China citizens cannot even watch “Avatar”, write on Facebook how beautiful the latest film starring Harrison Ford is, or hope to read anything close to the truth in the newspapers. “Marry a man like Xi” and hail him. Otherwise you will disappear.