China's leaders have ordered the nation's media to step up allegiance to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and promote President Hu Jintao's (胡錦濤) vision of a "harmonious society," press reports said yesterday.
Hu and other party leaders, including propaganda czar Li Changchun (李長春), met with 450 media chiefs at the Great Hall of the People on Tuesday to reinforce the message that they must toe the government line, the People's Daily reported.
"Under the embrace and leadership of the party, the news battlefront ... should closely encircle the overall work of the party and state," the paper quoted Li as telling the members of the All China Journalists Association.
The media "should tightly grasp the direction of the correct public opinion [and] continuously raise its capability to lead public opinion," he was reported as saying.
Li stressed that the priority of "news and propaganda" was to fully publicize the important speeches of Hu, especially his pet project of "building a harmonious socialist society", the People's Daily said.
"We must unite the thoughts of the entire party and the people with the spirit of the party's central committee," Li was reported as saying.
China's media is strictly controlled by the CCP, with the nation ranked 159th out of 167 countries on Reporters Without Borders' global press freedom index.
The Paris-based group and other Western rights organizations frequently criticize China's rulers for the harsh measures used to control the press, particularly the jailings and sackings of journalists.
They say a crackdown on the media has intensified under Hu's three-year rule, as the government seeks to silence dissent amid rising unrest over the widening wealth gap, widespread corruption and other social problems.
It is these problems Hu is trying to address in his efforts to build a "harmonious society," CCP insiders say.