November 8 marked the 18th Journalists’ Day in China. To celebrate Journalists’ Day as well as the 80th anniversary of the All-China Journalists Association (ACJA), the 27th China Journalism Awards ceremony was held in Beijing with about 300 attendees. At the ceremony, China’s new ideology czar, Wang Huning, took center stage in the Chinese media for the first time and made an unusual public speech. He urged all Chinese journalists to follow the lead of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) “unswervingly.”
Wang, 62, was elevated to the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee (PSC) of the CCP — the highest decision-making body of China — during the 19th Party Congress in October. He currently holds the position of member of the Secretariat of the CCP Central Committee — a body serving the PSC to manage routine decisions.
As The Diplomat reported earlier, Wang has been the CCP’s top political theorist and major policy adviser for Chinese President Xi Jinping as well as Xi’s predecessors, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao. Wang is believed to be the key initiator and designer of Xi’s signature policies “China Dream” and “One Belt One Road Initiative.”
Yet, before his elevation, Wang remained extremely reserved in public speeches and writing alike. The only track record of his personal ideas came from academic books and journals published in his early years, when he had not started his political career yet. In addition, although Wang had accompanied Xi on almost every domestic and international trip, he maintained a low profile by standing several steps away from Xi during photo ops.
Thus, Wang’s latest speech on Journalists’ Day was his debut to the public, since he used to play a behind-the-scenes role.
According to Xinhua, Wang said at the ceremony that all people working in news media should carefully study and understand Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era (a concept that was added into the CCP’s Constitution at the 19th Party Congress, as The Diplomat reported), and to publicize the spirit of the 19th Party Congress clearly, comprehensibly, and to the point.
He further urged the ACJA to organize Chinese journalists to follow the Party “unswervingly.”
Xi personally wrote a congratulatory letter to the ACJA as well, calling on Chinese journalists to actively promote the CCP’s policies. The letter was read at the event by Vice Premier Liu Yandong (her political rank is lower than Wang’s) after Wang’s speech. Perhaps in an attempt not to steal Xi’s thunder, Wang made his speech short and brief.
After Wang’s elevation into the PSC, many China analysts dug out Wang’s old articles published in the late 1980s or early 1990s, with some arguing that Wang is actually a dreamer with liberal views. As the chances for Wang to speak in front of cameras will significantly increase in the future, time will tell if these analysts are right.