The CCP Information Order in the Early People’s Republic of China

Monday, November 14, 2022
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM

In-Person at Okimoto Room, Encina Hall 3rd Floor

  • Daniel Leese
Event flyer with portrait of speaker Daniel Leese.

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.


Daniel Leese Headshot
Daniel Leese is professor of Chinese history and politics at the University of Freiburg, Germany. He is, among others, the author of Mao cult. Rhetoric and Ritual during China’s Cultural Revolution (CUP 2011) and Mao’s Long Shadow: How China dealt with its Past (in German), which won the ICAS Best Book Award and was shortlisted for the German Non-Fiction Award. He currently works on a new project that traces what the party leadership knew about domestic and international affairs through secret communication channels.