At the end of 2019, Chinese authorities ordered journalists to pass an exam featuring Xi Jinping’s speeches. According to the National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA), as of October 30, 2020, a total of 205,000 Chinese journalists had passed the “Xi Thought” exam and obtained a passport-sized Chinese journalist ID card with gold letters against a red background.
Cheng Yizhong, a senior Chinese media person who participated in the founding of Southern Metropolis Daily and Beijing News, told Radio Free Asia that this shows that China now has high confidence in its propaganda outlets and this has nothing to do its press freedom. “(The Chinese government) is confident that it has reached a state of complete control over the terminal (reporter) and information. … With a press ID card, it is easier to maintain control.”
According to the announcement of the NPPA, a Chinese journalist’s ID is good for a term of five years, contingent on annual reviews. The press ID’s can only be issued by news organizations that the government certifies.
RFA also interviewed a young man surnamed Li, who completed his master’s degree in journalism in the United States and chose to work in China’s state media. For Li, taking the press card exam is a career development requirement for which he had no choice. Li showed a screenshot of his phone and repeated the exam questions and standardized answers.
Question: As General Secretary Xi Jinping emphasized, what is the most basic principle of news and public opinion work?
Answer: The Party’s leadership over news and public opinion work.
Question: As Xi Jinping emphasized, what is the basic guidance for news and public opinion?
Answer: Unity, stability, and positive propaganda.
Question: What should cyberspace be?
Answer: A new space for the Party to build consensus.
In 2020, according to data from the U.S. non-profit organization the Committee to Protect Journalists, China is the country that has the largest number of imprisoned journalists in the world. In the annual World Press Freedom Index report from Reporters Without Borders, China ranked fourth to the last around the world. The number is even higher than in dictatorship regimes such as North Korea. The report also mentioned that if Chinese journalists had the right to report freely, the COVID-19 pandemic could have been avoided, or at least it would not have come to be as tragic as it is now.
Source: Radio Free Asia, November 6, 2020