|June 3, 2009|
|China Says 'Thanks' for the PR Skills|
|By Kevin McCauley|
|Adoption of western PR tactics enabled the Beijing Government to survive the brutal crackdown of pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square and thrive in the ensuing 20 years, according to the "Banyan" column in this weekís Economist. |
June 3-4 marks the anniversary of the slaughter of thousands of students in Beijing. Donít expect any commemoration of the bloody event in China. Tiananmen Square has been flushed down China's collective memory hole.
Since 1989, the Communist Party "turned to western techniques of PR and mass media, manufacturing consent by guiding public opinion in certain directions while barring it in others," according to Banyan. Orwellian newspeak shapes debate. Spin rallies public support. Natural/national disasters, such as the collapse of shoddily constructed schools during earthquakes, become "quasi-religious occasions of national solidarity," according to the piece in the British weekly.
What about the Internet?
It's under control. Wasn't the much ballyhooed 'Net supposed to be the liberating force to spark a grassroots democratic movement among young Chinese? The Government's control and surveillance on the online world block most of what it does not want the people to see. The Party has corralled mainland Chinese into what author Anne-Marie Brady ("Marketing Dictatorships") calls "a virtual mind prison." The prison, though, has plenty of entertainment and "cool things" for young guys to do to keep them preoccupied.
China faces tough economic, healthcare and education challenges, but a populist uprising is not is sight. The government prefers the use of PR's power of persuasion to "violence and intimidation -- though these remain handy, as during the crushing of the Tibetan riots last year," the Economist states.
The government is gearing up for the anniversary, the Associated Press reports, as dissidents have been rounded up and Twitter shut down.
A ray of hope flickers faintly in Hong Kong as the Catholic Church has called for an investigation into Tiananmen "not out of revenge, but to discover the truth."
Donít hold your breath for that probe, Cardinal Zen, for as Stalin asked of the Vatican, "How many divisions has the Pope?"
(Image via livingcinema)
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