The People's Daily (simplified Chinese: 人民日报; traditional Chinese: 人民日報; pinyin: Rénmín Rìbào) is the largest newspaper group in China. The paper is an official newspaper of the Central Committee 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, Spanish, Japanese, French, Russian, Portuguese, Arabic, Tibetan, Kazakh, Uyghur, Zhuang, Mongolian, and other minority languages in China. The newspaper provides direct information on the policies and viewpoints of the Chinese Communist Party.
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 to 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, 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.
Editorials in the People's Daily are regarded both by foreign observers and Chinese readers as authoritative statements of official government policy, and are therefore 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: 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 was released by the People's Daily during the 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.
An analysis of the wording of all the issues of the People's Daily from 1995 to 2000 was used in the writing of The First Series of Standardized Forms of Words with Non-standardized Variant Forms.:3
The People's Daily is also responsible for the publication of the tabloid Global Times.
In 2020, the United States Department of State designated the People's Daily a foreign mission, thereby requiring it to disclose more information about its operations in the U.S.
The People's Daily also maintains a multilingual internet presence; and established the People's Daily Online (人民网) in 1997. The website of People's Daily includes content in Arabic, French, Russian, Spanish, Japanese and English. In comparison to the original Chinese version, the foreign-language version offers less in-depth discussion of domestic policies and affairs and more editorial about China's foreign policies and motives.
In 2014 the newspaper launched a Chinese-language application which was followed on October 15, 2017 by an English-language version.
People's Daily in recent years has been expanding its publicity on the overseas social media platforms. It has 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.
The People's Daily employs "writing task groups" (Chinese: 写作小组; pinyin: xiězuò xiǎozǔ) of various staff to compose editorial pieces to signal the significance of certain pieces or their relationship to the official views of the Communist Party. These groups are published under "signatures" (i.e., pen names: 署名 shǔmíng) that may correspond with the topic and weight of a piece, and what specific government or Communist Party body is backing it, often with homophonous references to their purpose. They may be used frequently over many years or only for a few specific pieces.
Selected notable People's Daily pen names
|Ren Zhongping 任仲平
||From 人民日报重要评论 Rénmín Rìbào zhòngyào pínglùn
'important People's Daily commentary'
|Used to represent the view of the People's Daily as an organization.
||"Hong Kong scores brilliant achievements after return", June 2017
"Keeping original aspiration, CPC creates glorious achievements", September 2019
|Zhong Sheng 钟声
||Homophone of 中声 Zhōng shēng
'voice of China'
|Commentary on major international affairs by editors and staff.
||"U.S. practice to claim compensation for COVID-19 outbreak a shame for human civilization", May 2020
|Guo Jiping 国纪平
||From 有关国际的重要评论 yǒuguān guójì de zhòngyào pínglùn
'important commentary on international [matters]'
|According to China Daily, Guo Jiping is "used for People's Daily editorials meant to outline China's stance and viewpoints on major international issues." Guo Jiping articles are rarer and generally longer than Zhong Sheng articles.
||"Losing no time in progressing—grasping the historic opportunity for common development", December 2019
|Guo Ping 国平
||Unclear. Guó means 'country' and píng 'peace, calm'. Píng is also the last character in Xi Jinping's name.
||Articles that focus on Xi Jinping and his political thought.
||"在改革中更好掌握当代中国命运: 六论习近平总书记治国理政新思想新成就" ("Better Grasp Contemporary China's Destiny during Reform: On the New Thought and New Achievements of Xi Jinping in Governing the Country"), February 2016
|Zhong Zuwen 仲祖文
||From 中共中央组织部文章 Zhōnggòng Zhōngyāng Zǔzhībù wénzhāng
'articles from the Central Party Organization Department'
|Pieces from the Organization Department of the Chinese Communist Party, covering topics related to the Party principles and ideology.
||"Moral standards for officials' personal life necessary", July 2010
|Zheng Qingyuan 郑青原
||Taken from the saying 正本清源 zhèngběn qīngyuán
'clarify matters and get to the bottom of things'.
|Used to comment on political reform, particularly in attacking Western-style liberal democracy. A writer from the Beijing Morning Post (now part of The Beijing News) speculated that it represented the Politburo in an article that was taken down within a day in China.
||"China to promote reform with greater resolve, courage", October 2010
|Tang Xiaowen 唐晓文
||Similar to 党校文 dǎngxiào wén
'Party School writing'
|Central Party School editorials written during the Cultural Revolution by a group under the leadership of Kang Sheng.
||”孔子是’全民教育家‘吗？“ ("Is Confucius really an 'educator for the entire people'?"), September 1973
|Special guest commentator 特约评论员
||Briefly realized as Yue Ping 岳平, from tèyuē pínglùnyuán
||Used from March 1978 to December 1985 to republish select articles from the internal Party periodical Theoretical Trends (理论动态) under the direction of Hu Yaobang.
||“实践是检验真理的唯一标准” ("Actual Practice is the Sole Criterion for Judging Truth"), May 1978 (originally published in Guangming Daily)
List of presidents
A 2013 study of the People's Daily coverage of the 2002–2004 SARS outbreak reported that it "regurgitated triumph and optimism" and framed the outbreak as an "opportunity to showcase China's scientific achievements, and the strength of national spirits, as well as the wise leadership of the party and effective measures to protect the lives of ordinary citizens."
In February 2020, the People's Daily published an article stating that the novel coronavirus "did not necessarily originate in China." In March 2020, the online insert of the People's Daily, distributed by The Daily Telegraph, published an article stating that Traditional Chinese medicine "helps fight coronavirus." In May 2020, the People's Daily stated that the novel coronavirus had "multiple origins." In November 2020, the People's Daily published a claim that COVID-19 was "imported" into China. In January 2021, the People's Daily inaccurately attributed deaths in Norway to the Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
In 2021, ProPublica and The New York Times reported that the People's Daily was part of a coordinated state campaign to deny human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
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