The People's Daily or Renmin Ribao is the biggest newspaper group in China. The paper is an official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, published worldwide with a circulation of 3 million. In addition to its main Chinese-language edition, it has editions in English, Japanese, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, Tibetan, Kazakh, Uyghur, Zhuang, Mongolian, Korean and other minority languages in China. The newspaper provides direct information on the policies and viewpoints of the Chinese Communist Party.
Front page on 1 October 1949
(the day the PRC was established)
|Owner(s)||Communist Party of China|
|Publisher||Central Committee of the Communist Party of China|
|Founded||15 June 1948|
|Political alignment||Socialism with Chinese characteristics|
|Language||Chinese and others|
|Headquarters||No. 2 Jintai Xilu, Chaoyang District, Beijing|
The paper was established on 15 June 1948 and was published in Pingshan, Hebei, until its offices were moved to Beijing in March 1949. Ever since its founding, the People's Daily has been under direct control of the Party's top leadership. Deng Tuo and Wu Lengxi served as editor-in-chief from 1948–1958 and 1958–1966, respectively, but the paper was in fact controlled by Mao's personal secretary Hu Qiaomu.
During the Cultural Revolution, the People's Daily was one of the few sources of information from which either foreigners or Chinese could figure out what the Chinese government was doing or planning to do. During this period, an editorial in the People's Daily would be considered an authoritative statement of government policy, was studied and reproduced nationwide, and analyzed globally for insight into the Party's plans. The most important editorials were jointly published by People's Daily, People's Liberation Army Daily and Red Flag (magazine), from 1967 to 1978, so called "Two newspapers and one journal"(两报一刊), directly representing the highest voice of Chinese Communist Party.
Newspaper articles in the People's Daily are often not read for content so much as placement. A large number of articles devoted to a political figure or idea is often taken as a sign that the mentioned official or subject is rising. Likewise with articles on geographical areas foreign or domestic; recently increased interest in Latin America has been shown.
In China, like in the rest of the world, visibility and prominence in official media communicates power.
Editorials in the People's Daily are regarded both by foreign observers and Chinese readers as authoritative statements of official government policy. Thus studied with care. Distinction is made between editorials, commentaries, and opinions. Although all must be government approved, they differ sharply on the amount of official authoritativeness they contain by design – from the top.
For example, although an opinion piece is unlikely to contain views opposed to those of the government, it may express a viewpoint, or it may contain a debate that is under consideration and reflect only the opinions of the writer. In other words, an editorial trial balloon to assess internal public opinion. By contrast, an official editorial, which is rather infrequent, means that the government has reached a final decision on an issue.
During the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, the People's Daily editorial of 26 April, which condemned "unlawful parades and demonstrations," marked a significant moment in the newspaper's history. The editorial increased tension between the government and protesters, and top CPC leaders argued about whether to revise it. An article that compiles the most important editorials released by the People's Daily during the student movement can be found at the following page, People's Daily during the 1989 Student Movement.
Since the mid-1990s, the People's Daily has faced a decline of governmental subsidies combined with increasing competition from international news sources and Chinese tabloids. As part of its effort to modernize, it began an online edition in 1997, and the web bulletin forums, such as the Strengthening Nation Forum in the Chinese edition, has been known for their surprisingly candid content.
The People's Daily also maintains a multilingual internet presence; and established the People's Daily Online (人民网) in 1997.
The internet website of People's Daily includes pages in Arabic, French, Russian, Spanish, Japanese and English. In comparison to the original Chinese version, the foreign language version offer less in-depth discussion of domestic policies and affairs and more editorial about China's foreign policies and motives, often explaining China's positive intentions.
People's Daily in recent years has been expanding its publicity on the overseas social media platforms. It has tens of millions followers on its Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram account, and YouTube account. However, an unusually high proportion of its followers are virtually inactive and likely to be fake users, according to the study of Committee to Protect Journalists.