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Communication in China: Political Economy, Power, and Conflict [Paperback]

Yuezhi Zhao

Price: CDN$ 38.45 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

March 20 2008 074251966X 978-0742519664
The stakes for control over the means of communication in China have never been so high as the country struggles with breathtaking social change. This authoritative book analyzes the key dimensions of the transformation in China's communication system since the early 1990s and examines the highly fluid and potentially explosive dynamics of communication, power, and social contestation during China's rapid rise as a global power. Yuezhi Zhao begins with an analysis of the party-state's reconfiguration of political, economic, and ideological power in the Chinese communication system. She then explores the processes and social implications of domestic and foreign capital formation in the communication industry. Drawing on media and Internet debates on fundamental political, economic, and social issues in contemporary China, the book concludes with a nuanced depiction of the pitched and uneven battles for access and control among different social forces. Locating developments in Chinese communication within the nexus of state, market, and society, the author analyzes how the legacies of socialism continue to cast a long shadow. The book not only provides a multifaceted and interdisciplinary portrait of contemporary Chinese communication, but also explores profound questions regarding the nature of the state, the dynamics of class formation, and the trajectory of China's epochal social transformation.

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An outstanding reference point for what we want to know about China’s communication system. To be sure, the book is about much more than communication. In fact, it embraces most of the complex issues and forces involved in China’s political, economic, and social modernization. . . . To China scholars and students, I say put this book on your list of the top 25 books on contemporary China. It is a superb study based on solid research and strong analysis. (Literary Review Of Canada)

Packed with information and insights about the Chinese media system. . . . An eye-opening account. (Global Media Journal)

Zhao's nuanced and powerful analysis informs why liberal democracy will not triumphant and why China will not turn back its clock and embrace absolute public ownership. (Journal of Chinese Political Science)

Impeccably researched. . . . A nuanced and generally easy-to-read book. (Louise Merrington The China Journal)

Particularly insightful, important, and applicable across the disciplinary perspectives from which scholars study contemporary China. Communication in China's final chapter provides a kind of recapitulation of Chinese intellectual fractiousness—and for this reason alone, the entire book is a must-read for scholars. For teaching advanced undergraduates and graduate students, however, the case study chapters could serve as engrossing readings for contemporary China classes or international and comparative mass communication courses. (Journal of Asian Studies)

A case could easily be made that Yuezhi Zhao's Communication in China: Political Economy, Power, and Conflict is the best book to appear on media, telecommunication, and the Internet in China since the mid-1990s, when Zhao began her career as a scholar and her rapid ascent to the top ranks of specialists on China's communication system. . . . Zhao's vignette filled, beautifully written prose combines with the information richness of Communication in China to make the book a genuine page-turner: enjoyable to read and highly satisfying intellectually. Not only communication scholars, but political scientists, sociologists, anthropologists—everyone, in fact, working on contemporary China—will want to read this book. (Pacific Affairs)

For all students of Chinese media and communication . . . Zhao’s latest book is compulsory reading. . . . [It] further consolidates her standing as the brightest shining light and indisputably the most authoritative political economist in the field—a scholar whose influence and impact nevertheless extends far beyond the field of political economy. . . . Jam packed with a breathlessly engaging narrative and often poignant facts, figures and statistics . . . the book is an intellectual tour de force, unrivaled in its firm and comprehensive grasp of empirical materials and intellectual rigor. (International Journal Of Communication)

With commanding skill, Yuezhi Zhao reveals the conflicted role of communications in an epochal contemporary change: China's reintegration into global capitalism. Historically grounded and analytically powerful, this work is also vividly nuanced. It is instantly indispensable. (Dan Schiller, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

The excellent scholarship provides a badly needed update to the state of Chinese media. Zhao has both breadth and depth as a scholar, providing timely case studies and a wealth of up-to-date information. She makes extensive use of Chinese language sources that are not widely known even by experts in the field. (Barrett L. McCormick, Marquette University)

About the Author

Yuezhi Zhao is associate professor and Canada Research Chair in the Political Economy of Global Communication at Simon Fraser University.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
2.0 out of 5 stars Zhao's Marxist framework mis-characterizes the PRC party-state's bureaucratic capitalism as "neo-liberal" March 3 2013
By Harvy Lind - Published on
On the positive side, this book sheds light on a number of controversies in PRC media and politics, including liberalizing advocates of rule of law and of protecting basic civil rights such as former People's University President Xie Tao, Beijing University Professor of Law He Weifang, and conscientious journalists such as Li Datong and Jiang Weiping. Yet the book sorely lacks a bibliography and Chinese character glossary for key names and terms, and the endnotes that follow each of its six chapters (plus intro and conclusion) reveal that most of the web-based research materials cited were accessed between 2004 and 2006, making the book largely out of date by the 2010s. Zhao's major flaw is that as a true-believing follower of the British Marxist geographer David Harvey and his condemnation of the globalization of market forces as "neo-liberalism," she insists that the authoritarian PRC party-state's loosening of the Maoist straitjacket on the PRC economy while keeping the straitjacket tight on PRC politics is "neo-liberalist." In actuality, the large majority of the PRC's largest corporations remain either state-owned (SOEs) or else at least partly under control of the Party-state, either by the latter's owning of a large percentage of the corporation's stock or else controlling the selection of its CEO through the Party's Organization Department, the all-powerful personnel bureaucracy in charge of key appointments,transfers, and dismissals. The PRC economic system is thus not "neo-liberal" in the sense of lightly regulated by the government or supportive of merchants as an independent force, but quite the reverse, a mercantilist system of state capitalism or bureaucratic capitalism. Hence, economists and other scholars who do not bring outdated and fallacious Marxist assumptions to their analysis of large PRC corporations, for example, speak of "red chip" as opposed to "blue chip" PRC corporations, particularly those in sectors deemed politically sensitive by the Communist Party such as telecommunications, munitions, and finance. In sum, the Party's decision to loosen the old Mao-era straitjacket on the PRC economy has nothing whatsoever to do with liberalism or neo-liberalism, and in fact the Party has always railed against liberalism in its propaganda and launched campaigns and purges against it repeatedly, such as Deng Xiaoping's campaign and purge of "bourgeois liberalization" in 1987. Zhao's ideologically-driven insistence upon mislabeling a mercantilist and single-party authoritarian bureaucracy-dominated economic system as "neo-liberal" sheds far more heat than light upon the subject, and is seriously misleading.

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