Data from state media: Xi Jinping is not a reformer - China’s latest political and current affairs news - SupChina

Data from state media: Xi Jinping is not a reformer – China’s latest political and current affairs news


Bloomberg has summarized the results of an analysis by Qian Gang at the China Media Project at the University of Hong Kong, which showed that President Xi Jinping has presided over a state media environment much more focused on control and strong leadership than on reform. Here are the details:

  • Although not everyone agrees that Xi aims to build a personality cult or what exactly that would mean, Qian noted, “We haven’t found any politician whose name has been used with an intensity even close to Xi Jinping’s” — and their database stretches back to 1946.
  • Another interesting finding from the data: Belt and Road” has quickly surpassed “Chinese Dream,” “Deepening Reform,” and even the more recent “Supply-Side Reform” as the dominant phrase in Party messaging during Xi Jinping’s first term as president.
  • Other references to reform, including to Deng Xiaoping, China’s famous leader of the decades-long “reform and opening up,” have markedly decreased in frequency since Xi has led the country starting in late 2012.

The Party-state surveillance apparatus has also kicked into higher gear to censor dissent and calls for political reform from within the country, in two recent developments:

  • The Wall Street Journal reports (paywall) that China’s censors have developed “the ability to delete images in one-on-one chats as they are being transmitted, making them disappear before receivers see them.”
  • This follows news from July 17 that, for the first time, censors had implemented “image filtering in one-to-one chat, in addition to image filtering in group chats” to muzzle online reaction to Liu Xiaobo’s death. Read more coverage of the aftermath of Liu’s death and the political climate in China at the links below.

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Lucas Niewenhuis

Lucas Niewenhuis is an associate editor at SupChina who helps curate daily news and produce the company's newsletter, app, and website content. Previously, Lucas researched China-Africa relations at the Social Science Research Council and interned at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He has studied Chinese language and culture in Shanghai and Beijing, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.