Review: Bold 2002 takeover of Chinese state TV plays out in hybrid documentary ‘Eternal Spring’
When the head of state, Xi Jinping, decided that an entire media company would be swallowed up by China’s giant media conglomerate, the People’s Daily, in 2003, most Western analysts predicted a PR nightmare.
The People’s Daily is China’s largest newspaper group and operates more than 100 other publications, including China Central Television, which controls the country’s CCTV and PTT, and the Beijing Youth Daily, which includes Sina, China’s biggest site.
But after years of being the target of anti-media propaganda, Beijing has gone back to fighting the media.
Over the last three months, the Communist Party has repeatedly ordered the media to “fight rightist elements inside and outside”. Last month, Beijing shut down the web portal Dazhichan.cn, and announced plans to shut down a number of popular internet sites, including Sina.com.
“The Internet is an instrument of the people,” says Zhang Hong, a 28-year-old university student. “If we are strong enough and if we use it well, it can further the cause of socialist unity, the cause of building a strong China.”
Zhang may look like an internet freak – his parents describe him as a quiet, shy type – but he is also a committed activist. Zhang was one of the first students to sign a petition to block a road in Beijing as part of a campaign to raise awareness of environmental problems.
Another signatory, Wang Yujun, explains that Zhang is one of the few who have “spent a long time working on internet activism and have been able to understand internet culture and know a lot about it”.
The two are regular participants in online discussions about the country’s problems. Wang, a university student, says he has been using the internet and social networks for two years since he realised he should do something to make a change. Zhang has been on the web since he was 11, using it as a way of expressing his opinions since he was 16.
Zhang and Wang were both involved in a network of internet activists, but they are now calling for a new network to unify the country’s online community