Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on telegram
Share on whatsapp
Share on linkedin
Share on print
Share on email

Clean Up of Propaganda Apparatus Signals Trouble for Liu Yunshan

◎ The propaganda apparatus under Liu Yunshan sought to undermine Xi Jinping by resorting to “gaojihei” smear tactics.

According to reports in Hong Kong media, the interest groups and aides of former internet czar Lu Wei were all investigated after his arrest on Nov. 21. Officials affected include those in China National Radio, China Central Television, and the state news media and publishing apparatus.

There is also speculation that Liu Lefei, the son of former Politburo Standing Committee member Liu Yunshan, was investigated during the 19th Party Congress period.

The big picture: The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) prizes its propaganda apparatus and its military (coined the CCP’s “pen” and “gun” by Mao Zedong), and both organs used to be in the hands of the Jiang Zemin political faction for the past two decades. The Jiang faction-controlled propaganda apparatus continuously sought to undermine Xi Jinping after he took office in 2012.

Following the personnel reshuffle at the 19th Congress, however, Jiang faction elites no longer control the CCP’s “pen.” Liu Yunshan retired from the Politburo Standing Committee and as propaganda apparatus head, while former Propaganda Department director Liu Qibao hasn’t yet been given a new job despite being on the new Central Committee. Lu Wei became the first high-ranking official to be arrested after the 19th Congress.

Meanwhile, Xi’s allies Wang Huning and Huang Kunming became the new propaganda apparatus chief and the new Propaganda Department head respectively.

Our take:

1. Liu Yunshan is a Jiang faction elite. He spent the past 24 years in several top propaganda posts, including deputy head and head of the Propaganda Department, before overseeing the entire apparatus when he was appointed chairman of the Central Commission for Guiding Cultural and Ethical Progress of the Communist Party of China. Liu’s acolytes are spread throughout the propaganda apparatus.

2. Liu oversaw Lu Wei’s promotion to deputy head of the Propaganda Department, State Council Information Office head, and head of the Cyberspace Administration of China.

3. The propaganda apparatus under Liu Yunshan sought to undermine Xi Jinping by resorting to “gaojihei” (or “advanced blackening”) smear tactics. For instance, state media would build a personality cult around Xi while manipulated liberals criticized him for reviving Cultural Revolution-style personal worship. New Propaganda Department head Huang Kunming will likely find it difficult to ensure normal operations.

4. Liu Yunshan’s son Liu Lefei is the vice chairman of Citic Securities. During the 2015 China stock market crash, Liu Lefei made a fortune while shorting the markets that he was supposed to be saving, an act that some observers consider to be an economic coup. Then, state mouthpiece Xinhua declared that Li Keqiang’s plan to save the stock markets was “useless,” and this caused the Hong Kong stock exchange to plummet and affect other prominent global markets.

5. The Xi administration’s anti-corruption tactics can be described as peeling an onion—the “layers” of associates of a high-ranking official are investigated first, and the evidence they provide exposes the “core” for an arrest. For instance, former security czar Zhou Yongkang’s subordinates and family members were probed one after the other until investigators came knocking on his door.

If the news that Liu Yunshan’s associates and his son are being investigated prove accurate, then Liu faces the same fate as Zhou.

Search past entries by date
“The breadth of SinoInsider’s insights—from economics through the military to governance, all underpinned by unparalleled reporting on the people in charge—is stunning. In my over fifty years of in-depth reading on the PRC, unclassified and classified, SinoInsider is in a class all by itself.”
James Newman, Former U.S. Navy cryptologist
“Unique insights are available frequently from the reports of Sinoinsider.”
Michael Pillsbury, Senior Fellow for China Strategy, The Heritage Foundation
“Thank you for your information and analysis. Very useful.”
Prof. Ravni Thakur, University of Delhi, India
“SinoInsider’s research has helped me with investing in or getting out of Chinese companies.”
Charles Nelson, Managing Director, Murdock Capital Partners
“I value SinoInsider because of its always brilliant articles touching on, to name just a few, CCP history, current trends, and factional politics. Its concise and incisive analysis — absent the cliches that dominate China policy discussions in DC and U.S. corporate boardrooms — also represents a major contribution to the history of our era by clearly defining the threat the CCP poses to American peace and prosperity and global stability. I am grateful to SinoInsider — long may it thrive!”
Lee Smith, Author and journalist
“Your publication insights tremendously help us complete our regular analysis on in-depth issues of major importance. ”
Ms. Nicoleta Buracinschi, Embassy of Romania to the People’s Republic of China
"I’m a very happy, satisfied subscriber to your service and all the deep information it provides to increase our understanding. SinoInsider is profoundly helping to alter the public landscape when it comes to the PRC."
James Newman, Former U.S. Navy cryptologist
“Prof. Ming’s information about the Sino-U.S. trade war is invaluable for us in Taiwan’s technology industry. Our company basically acted on Prof. Ming’s predictions and enlarged our scale and enriched our product lines. That allowed us to deal capably with larger orders from China in 2019. ”
Mr. Chiu, Realtek R&D Center
“I am following China’s growing involvement in the Middle East, seeking to gain a better understanding of China itself and the impact of domestic constraints on its foreign policy. I have found SinoInsider quite helpful in expanding my knowledge and enriching my understanding of the issues at stake.”
Ehud Yaari, Lafer International Fellow, The Washington Institute
“SinoInsider’s research on the CCP examines every detail in great depth and is a very valuable reference. Foreign researchers will find SinoInsider’s research helpful in understanding what is really going on with the CCP and China. ”
Baterdene, Researcher, The National Institute for Security Studies (Mongolian)
“The forecasts of Prof. Chu-cheng Ming and the SinoInsider team are an invaluable resource in guiding our news reporting direction and anticipating the next moves of the Chinese and Hong Kong governments.”
Chan Miu-ling, Radio Television Hong Kong China Team Deputy Leader
“SinoInsider always publishes interesting and provocative work on Chinese elite politics. It is very worthwhile to follow the work of SinoInsider to get their take on factional struggles in particular.”
Lee Jones, Reader in International Politics, Queen Mary University of London
“[SinoInsider has] been very useful in my class on American foreign policy because it contradicts the widely accepted argument that the U.S. should work cooperatively with China. And the whole point of the course is to expose students to conflicting approaches to contemporary major problems.”
Roy Licklider, Adjunct Professor of Political Science, Columbia University
“As a China-based journalist, SinoInsider is to me a very reliable source of information to understand deeply how the CCP works and learn more about the factional struggle and challenges that Xi Jinping may face. ”
Sebastien Ricci, AFP correspondent for China & Mongolia
“SinoInsider offers an interesting perspective on the Sino-U.S. trade war and North Korea. Their predictions are often accurate, which is definitely very helpful.”
Sebastien Ricci, AFP correspondent for China & Mongolia
“I have found SinoInsider to provide much greater depth and breadth of coverage with regard to developments in China. The subtlety of the descriptions of China's policy/political processes is absent from traditional media channels.”
John Lipsky, Peter G. Peterson Distinguished Scholar, Kissinger Center for Global Affairs
“My teaching at Cambridge and policy analysis for the UK audience have been informed by insights from your analyzes. ”
Dr Kun-Chin Lin, University Lecturer in Politics,
Deputy Director of the Centre for Geopolitics, Cambridge University
" SinoInsider's in-depth and nuanced analysis of Party dynamics is an excellent template to train future Sinologists with a clear understanding that what happens in the Party matters."
Stephen Nagy, Senior Associate Professor, International Christian University
“ I find Sinoinsider particularly helpful in instructing students about the complexities of Chinese politics and what elite competition means for the future of the US-China relationship.”
Howard Sanborn, Professor, Virginia Military Institute
“SinoInsider has been one of my most useful (and enjoyable) resources”
James Newman, Former U.S. Navy cryptologist
“Professor Ming and his team’s analyses of current affairs are very far-sighted and directionally accurate. In the present media environment where it is harder to distinguish between real and fake information, SinoInsider’s professional perspectives are much needed to make sense of a perilous and unpredictable world. ”
Liu Cheng-chuan, Professor Emeritus, National Chiayi University