Written by Jonathan Sullivan and Gabriele Balbi.

During the reform era, the transformation of the Chinese media system has been as dramatic as changes in other sectors. Compelled by the financial imperatives of the market, squeezed by the Party’s parameters of the permissible, and disrupted by the popularization of the Chinese internet, it goes without saying that the contemporary Chinese media ecology bears little resemblance to the under-developed propaganda mouthpiece that existed at the outset of the reforms. “Public opinion guidance” remains a major role of the Chinese media, but even ‘official’ outlets are not immune to the pressures of commercialization and the challenges that media in most countries face from the internet.

In order to analyze the changing media environment, the China Policy Institute has teamed up with the China Media Observatory to compile a special issue of the CPI blog. Contributions by some of the world’s leading China media experts analyze the Chinese media from domestic and international perspectives, focusing on the Chinese media content and the economic potential of the media system for economic development and to the relations between governments, markets and users.

The China Media Observatory (CMO) was created in September 2006 by the Faculty of Communication Sciences at the Università della Svizzera italiana (Lugano, Switzerland). The purpose of the CMO is to monitor the evolution of media and communication ecologies in China, covering economic, political, social and cultural dimensions. The CMO also facilitates exchanges for teaching and research purposes and establishes collaborations with European and Chinese universities in the field of Chinese media research. Of particular note is the CMO’s official relationships with the Communication University of China, Peking University through the EU – China Media Dialogue Communication Summer School (this year in its second edition), and with the Institute of Journalism and Communication at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (in 2013 CMO and CASS jointly published a special issue on the peer review Journal Studies in Communication Sciences entitled Media in China). The CMO is directed by Honorary President Prof. Giuseppe Richeri and co-director Prof. Gabriele Balbi, and hosts two postdoctoral researchers Dr Gianluigi Negro and Dr Zhan Zhang. The China Policy Institute is delighted to present this special issue of the blog in collaboration with the China Media Observatory. Contributors include:

Gianluigi Negro (China Media Observatory) The significance of sharing: Video in China

Wanning Sun (University of Technology Sydney) China, Japan and the Media: The Politics and Business of Selective Remembering

Valeria Varriano (Univeristà l’Orientale Neaples) Sister Lotus and the cult of the selfie in China

Rongbin Han (University of Georgia) China’s Media in Cross Currents: Implications for Critical Journalism

Shaohua Guo (Carleton College) Taking stock of the Chinese blogosphere

James F. Scotton (Marquette University) Confucius Institutes and China’s ‘soft power’

Jonathan Hassid (Iowa State University)  China’s Responsiveness to Internet Opinion: A Double-Edged Sword

Zhan Zhang (China Media Observatory) Problems in Huallywood

Jonathan Sullivan is Deputy Director of the CPI and Editor of the CPI blog. Gabriele Balbi is Co-Director of the China Media Observatory. Image Credit: CC by Chi Chio Choi/Flickr.