This event is co-sponsored by the German Historical Institute, Pacific Office Berkeley and the ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius.
After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) faced a major predicament. Since the new leadership did not allow a free exchange of opinions, the problem was how to obtain reliable information and prevent the circulation of rumors and “fake news.” To deal with this “dictator’s dilemma,” the CCP developed a two-pronged approach. Besides public news items that catered to the mobilizational aspects of party policies, it established secret feedback channels, the so-called neican, or internal reference, bulletins. These were strictly tasked with separating facts from opinion to provide the leadership with an objective account of developments in China and abroad. Over time, a distinct system for the controlled circulation of intelligence, an “information order,” took shape. In this talk, Leese will outline some general features of this information order and comment on whether it was able to circumvent the problem of information bias in authoritarian systems.