Asia Program

Scholars Under Siege? Academic and Media Freedom in China

Perry Link, Richard Madsen, Chin-Chuan Lee, and Yongming Zhou.

This Special Report containing four essays explores questions of academic and media freedom in China from the multidisciplinary perspectives of literature, sociology, journalism, and anthropology. Perry Link of Princeton University describes Beijing’s psychological control system, characterized by self-censorship resembling a giant anaconda coiled in an overhead chandelier. Richard Madsen observes that the government’s strategy of meddling in academic life is designed to inhibit professional communication among scholars and to co-opt scholars into work that meets the Party’s political priorities. Chin-Chuan Lee of the University of Minnesota argues that China’s economic reform has created a modest degree of media liberalization and resulted in a combination of authoritarian power and a loosely regulated media. Yongming Zhou of the University of Wisconsin at Madison predicts that Chinese intellectuals will continue to take advantage of Internet technology for the free exchange of ideas and information, whereas the state will continue to monitor these developments while employing more refined techniques of control.This Special Report concludes that although Chinese intellectuals have gained a certain degree of freedom in academic discussion and media reportage, they do not yet possess the ability to challenge official ideology in public discourse.

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