Opening the Dialogue on Media Politics in China: A Conversation with Professor Maria Repnikova

What is the relationship between journalism and the party-state in China? On February 21st, FACES members and alumni had the opportunity to attend a private talk with visiting Professor Maria Repnikova and hear an expert perspective on Chinese political communication. The event was carried out with the support of FSI and took place in conjunction with the professor’s public speaking event later in the day. Before the talk, participants were provided with access to Professor Repnikova’s research and written articles on relevant topics such as journalism education in China and the Little Pink gendered cyber-nationalism wave that occurred in 2016.

During the roundtable event, the conversation covered a wide range of subjects. Attendees asked and learned about the effects of censorship on a growing social media celebrity culture, ways foreign journalists can maintain their position, changes under the Xi regime, and more. They also had the privilege of hearing about Professor Repnikova’s personal experience and insights on the current and future climate of journalism in China. She spoke about the rise of new media innovations such as Shanghai-based PengPai, an online news-platform that although is state-funded, has consistently delivered investigative and in-depth journalism.

From Professor Repnikova's perspective, there will likely be a continued increase in top-down regulation of media under the current party government. However, she touched on the fact that resistance to censorship is certainly present, and there are creative methods of dissent from individuals ranging from journalists to university students to even propaganda officials. Professor Repnikova also shared details on her research such as the intricacies of sensitive data collection and the long and often unpredictable process of cultivating connections. Professor Repnikova additionally touched on her future work on comparing Chinese media politics with that of other countries. Overall, the discussion was an insightful introduction to and overview of the uniquely protected media landscape in China.

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