This study looks into the recent boom of animated cartoons for political communication in China since late 2013. The series of political cartoons are examined against the background of a comprehensive media revolution designed by top following the Chinese Communist Party’s (hereafter CCP) new understanding of the role of media and public opinion. I argue, by looking closely at the creative use of political cartoons, that the CCP adjusted the role of media in the digital age from a propaganda mouth piece, to a guiding opinion unifier to popularize the Party. Their efforts and success in eliciting bottom-up responses with animated cartoons have suggested a transformation of communication model from top-down to bottom-up as well as reflecting the CCP’s changing understanding of the public from “target audience of propaganda” to guided audience, and then to central actors for popularizing the Party. The major media reform since Xi came to power in early 2013 has laid institutional, managerial and editorial foundation to practically sustain such a conceptual change, and the boom of political cartoons is the most prominent result of it.
Political Communication,New Media,Cartoon,Xi Jinping,Propaganda,Media Reform
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, University of California, Los Angeles, United States
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Before teaching at UCLA, I was Lecturer (Tenure-track Assistant Professor) in Asian Studies at the National University College Cork, Ireland from 2017 to 2018; I was Visiting Assistant Professor previously at University of Exeter, UK from 2016-2017. I was also a journalist at Voice of America in 2014.