Introduction: Understanding the Politics of Chinese Media

  • Bingchun Meng
Part of the China in Transformation book series (CIT)


The introductory chapter lays out the key theoretical propositions that inform the rest of the book. It also challenges some of the conventional frameworks for analyzing media and communication in China. In addition to highlighting the continued relevance of China’s socialist history in understanding the present as well as imagining the future, I also advocate a multidimensional view of power, a broader understanding of politics and an appreciation of mediation as a dialectical process. The chapter ends with an explanation of the structure of the book.


  1. Bischoff, P. (2014, July 18). Baidu-backed iQiyi launches in-house film studio, 8 movies in the works. Tech in Asia. Retrieved February 2, 2017, from
  2. Bourdieu, P. (1991). Language and symbolic power. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  3. Brady, A. M. (2008). Marketing dictatorship: Propaganda and thought work in contemporary China. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  4. Brzeski, P. (2015, December 31). China box office grows astonishing 48.7 percent in 2015, hits $6.78 billion. Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 2, 2017, from
  5. Chakrabarty, D. (2000). Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial thought and historical difference. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Cheek, T. (2006). Living with reform: China since 1989. New York: Zed Books Ltd.Google Scholar
  7. Chen, L. (2016, November 9). Tencent said to budget $295 million for backing movie projects. Retrieved from
  8. Curran, J., & Park, M.-J. (Eds.). (2000). De-Westernizing media studies. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  9. Elliott, G. (2008). Ends in sight. London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
  10. Elliott, L., & Wearden, G. (2017, January 18). Xi Jinping signals China will champion free trade if Trump builds barriers. The Guardian. Retrieved from
  11. Fairclough, N. (2001). Language and power (2nd ed.). Edinburgh: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  12. Fallows, J. (2016, December). China’s great leap backward. The Atlantic. Retrieved from
  13. Foucault, M. (1991). The Foucault reader. (P. Rabinow, Ed.). New York: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  14. Fraser, N. (1995). From redistribution to recognition? Dilemmas of justice in a “post-socialist” age. New Left Review, 212, 68–93.Google Scholar
  15. Fraser, N. (1997). Justice interrupts. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  16. Fraser, N. (2000). Rethinking recognition. New Left Review, 3, 107–120.Google Scholar
  17. Fraser, N., & Honneth, A. (2003). Redistribution or recognition: A political-philosophical exchange. London: Verso.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Garrahan, M., & Sender, H. (2016, June 8). Chinese investors flood into Hollywood. Financial Times. Retrieved February 2, 2017, from
  19. Goodman, D. S. G. (2014). Class in contemporary China. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  20. Gutman, A. (1994). Introduction. In A. Gutman (Ed.), Multiculturalism: Examining the politics of recognition (pp. 3–24). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Hall, S. (2016). Cultural studies 1983: A theoretical history. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hall, S., Critcher, C., Jefferson, T., Clarke, J., & Roberts, B. (2013 [1978]). Policing the crisis: Mugging, the state and law and order. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  23. Harootunian, H. (2005). Some thoughts on comparability and the space-time problem. Boundary 2, 32(2), 23–52. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hong, Y. (2017). Networking China: The digital transformation of the Chinese economy. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Honneth, A. (1996). The struggle for recognition: The moral grammar of social conflicts. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  26. Honneth, A. (2007). Disrespect: The normative foundations of critical theory. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  27. Jiang, M., & Okamoto, K. (2014). National identity, ideological apparatus, or panopticon? A case study of the Chinese national search engine Jike. Policy & Internet, 6(1), 89–107. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lee, C.-C. (2000). Power, money, and media: Communication patterns and bureaucratic control in cultural China. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Lee, C.-C., He, Z., & Huang, Y. (2006). “Chinese Party Publicity Inc.” conglomerated: The case of the Shenzhen Press Group. Media, Culture & Society, 28(4), 581–602.Google Scholar
  30. Lee, C.-K. (2007). Against the law: Labour protests in China’s rustbelt and sunbelt. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  31. Martin-Barbero, J. (1993). Communication, culture and hegemony: From the media to mediations. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  32. McNary, D. (2016, July 25). China’s Alibaba Pictures unveils $300 million investment fund. Variety. Retrieved February 2, 2017, from
  33. Meng, B. (2010). Moving beyond democratization: A thought piece on China Internet research agenda. International Journal of Communication, 4, 501–508.Google Scholar
  34. Meng, B. (2016). Political scandal at the end of ideology? The mediatized politics of the Bo Xilai case. Media, Culture & Society, 38(6), 811–826. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Mignolo, W. (2012). Local histories/global designs: Coloniality, subaltern knowledges, and border thinking. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Momani, B. (2017, January 18). Xi Jinping’s speech at Davos shows how much can change in a decade. Newsweek. Retrieved January 26, 2017, from
  37. Morris, R. (2016, February 1). Kung Fu Panda: How DreamWorks tailored its film for Chinese viewers. BBC News. Retrieved from
  38. Nerone, J. (Ed.). (1995). Last rights: Revisiting Four Theories of the Press. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  39. Rawnsley, G. D., & Rawnsley, M.-Y. T. (2003). Political communications in Greater China: The construction and reflection of identity. London: RoutledgeCurzon.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Roudakova, N. (2012). Comparing processes: Media, “transitions” and historical change. In D. Hallin & P. Mancini (Eds.), Comparing media systems beyond the Western world (pp. 246–277). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Schiller, D. (2008). An update on China in the political economy of information and communications. Chinese Journal of Communication, 1(1), 109–116. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sewell, W. H. (2005). Logics of history. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Siebert, F. S., Peterson, T., & Schramm, W. (1956). Four theories of the press. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  44. Silverstone, R. (2005). The sociology of mediation and communication. In C. Calhoun, C. Rojek, & B. Turner (Eds.), The Sage handbook of sociology (pp. 188–207). London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sparks, C. (2012). Beyond political communication: Towards a broader perspective on the Chinese press. Chinese Journal of Communication, 5(1), 61–67. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sun, W. (2013). Inequality and culture: A new pathway to understanding social inequality. In Y. Guo & W. Sun (Eds.), Unequal China: The political economy and cultural politics of inequality (pp. 27–42). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  47. Sun, W., & Guo, Y. (2013). Unequal China: The political economy and cultural politics of inequality. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  48. Taylor, C. (1994). Multiculturalism: Examining the politics of recognition. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  49. Thompson, E. P. (1966). The making of the English working class. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  50. Thompson, J. B. (1995). The media and modernity: A social theory of the media. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  51. Thussu, D. (Ed.). (2009). Internationalizing media studies. New York: Routledge. Retrieved from Google Scholar
  52. Wang, G. (2011). De-Westernizing communication research: Altering questions and changing frameworks. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  53. Wang, H. (2009). The end of the revolution: China and the limits of modernity. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  54. Wei, R., & Leung, L. (1999). The growth of news media and political communication in China and Taiwan in the early 1990s: A comparative study. Media Asia, 26(2), 71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Whyte, M. K. (Ed.). (2010). One country, two societies: Rural-urban inequality in contemporary China. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  56. Wildau, G., & Mitchell, T. (2016). China income inequality among world’s worst. Financial Times. Retrieved February 1, 2017, from
  57. Willems, W. (2014). Provincializing hegemonic histories of media and communication studies: Toward a genealogy of epistemic resistance in Africa. Communication Theory, 24(4), 415–434. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Williams, R. (1961). The long revolution. London: Chatto & Windus.Google Scholar
  59. Willis, P. E. (1977). Learning to labour: How working class kids get working class jobs. New York: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  60. Wu, X. (2007). Chinese cyber nationalism: Evolution, characteristics and implications. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  61. Young, I. M. (1997). Intersecting voices: Dilemmas of gender, political philosophy, and policy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  62. Zhao, Y. (1998). Media, market and democracy in China: Between the Party line and the bottom line. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  63. Zhao, Y. (2004). The state, the market, and media control in China. In P. Thomas & Z. Nain (Eds.), Who owns the media: Global trends and local resistance (pp. 179–212). Penang, Malaysia: Southbound Press.Google Scholar
  64. Zhao, Y. (2008). Communication in China: Political economy, power and conflict. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  65. Zhao, Y. (2009). Rethinking Chinese media studies: History, political economy and culture. In D. Thussu (Ed.), Internationalizing media studies (pp. 175–195). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  66. Zhao, Y. (2011). Sustaining the contesting revolutionary legacies in media and ideology. In S. Heilmann & E. J. Perry (Eds.), Mao’s invisible hand: The political foundations of adaptive governance in China (pp. 201–236). Cambridge, MA: Havard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Zhao, Y., & Schiller, D. (2001). Dances with wolves? China’s integration into digital capitalism. Info, 3(2), 137–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Zhou, H. (2016, February 25). How come a fabricated Chinese New Year family meal got the most attention during the Year of Monkey Spring Festival? Initium Media Retrieved February 1, 2017, from
  69. Zhou, Y. (2006). Historicizing online politics: Telegraphy, the Internet and political participation in China. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bingchun Meng
    • 1
  1. 1.London School of Economics and Political ScienceLondonUK

Personalised recommendations