Want the CCP View? Read State-Controlled Media

Here at the WPR blog, we’ve often commented on the usefulness of state-controlled media for sussing out the official line of a particular government on a particular issue. This works best, of course, in states like China where government control of official media is so well documented that its virtually certain that news and opinion articles reflect government wishes.

In fact, the Chinese government is so open about using the media to get out the official line that there’s really no analytical skill involved in reading the state-issued tea leaves.

Take the subject of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s upcoming visit to Japan, which Adam Wolfe analyzes today in WPR. Wolfe writes:

Relations across the East China Sea have steadily improved since the anti-Japanese riots in China in 2005. Following the election of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last fall, Sino-Japanese relations have rapidly improved, and appear to be on their best terms since the 1970s. But serious disagreements remain and there is no guarantee that the current mood will last.

Negotiators have been meeting in the run up to Wen’s visit, laying the groundwork for possible agreements on closer economic cooperation, a standoff with Pyongyang over Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korea, and gas fields in the East China Sea, amongst other issues. Although final agreements on most if not all of these issues may prove elusive, Beijing and Tokyo are both expecting to announce serious progress while Wen is in Japan.

If anyone doubts Wolfe’s description of a recent thaw in Sino-Japanese relations, especially from the point of view of the Chinese, one need only consult the Chinese government’s official English-language Web site. This section of China.org.cn provides information about Wen’s upcoming visit, with links to English-language articles published in state-controlled media organs like the Xinhua News Agency, China Daily and Beijing Review.

Here’s a sampling of the articles the Chinese government wants you to read. See if you can detect the metaphor that contains the official message (hint: all the talk about melting ice has nothing to do with global warming):

Premier Wen’s ‘Ice-Melting Visit’ Will Be a Success
Clearing away the Ice
Students Look Forward to Wen’s ‘Ice-melting Visit’
Abe Vows to Face Up to History
Japan: Wen’s Visit to Boost Ties
Wen Hopes His Japan Tour Will ‘Melt the Ice’