“The meaning and intention of your superiors….”

From the China Media Project:

By David Bandurski | Posted on 2011-05-09

A cartoon about China's so-called 50-Cent Party, whose members get paid by the government to spread the Party line online.

On May 5, a post purporting to be the full transcript of an interview by now-detained Chinese artist Ai Weiwei (艾未未) with a so-called “Internet commentator,” or wangluo pinglunyuan (网络评论员), made the rounds on China’s Internet, where it was quickly removed and just as quickly reposted on various blogs and online forums.

Online commentators, known colloquially in China as “50 Centers” or the “50-Cent Party” (五毛党) because they were once rumored to earn 50 Chinese cents for each pro-CCP comment made in online forums or the comment sections of major news stories on Web portals such as QQ.com and Sina.com, are now a generally acknowledged fact in China. But given the secrecy that still surrounds all methods of public opinion control in China, precious little is still known about these hired hands….

[UPDATE: We have confirmed the authenticity of the interview with a volunteer at Ai Weiwei’s studio, who writes: “The source is reliable….”

Question: In the midst of your “guidance of public opinion” work, how much do you think is directed from above, and how much is based on your own understanding [of what’s expected]?

Answer: In all of it I listen to the instructions from above, but your superiors don’t indicate how you should do it. Your superiors will only tell you the overall orientation of your public opinion channeling. They’ll tell you that this incident requires channeling the people toward this or that orientation, that the public can’t be allowed to think this or that, or that we can’t tolerate this or that kind of speech. But [in this work] you basically have to understand the meaning and intention of your superiors.


Chris Johns & Terry Adamson shake hands with our new publishing partners in the People’s Republic of China (2007).

Dear John,
For National Geographic magazine to get permission to publish in China,
was it necessary for you, Terry Adamson, and
NGM Editor-in-Chief Chris Johns

to “understand the meaning and intention of” the Chinese Communist Party?
Was it vital to grasp the “overall orientation
of what sort of Society we needed to be?

If so, would that “understanding” and “orientation” explain why Chris Johns,
just days before he flew to Beijing to celebrate the launch of NGM-China,
killed Ha Jin’s NGM story about Censorship in China?

Members of the 50-Cent Party were once said to be paid
50 Chinese cents per post.
How much does our Society get paid
for assuming the proper “orientation” in China?

Chris Johns & Terry Adamson celebrate NGM's new publishing partnership in the People's Republic of China. (2007)


≡  Cartoon of 50-Cent Party via China Digital Times

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