Central State vs. Local Levels of Government: Understanding News Media Censorship in China

Xianwen Kuang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigates the most frequently censored news in China. Existing studies show that the Chinese propaganda authorities are more likely to censor news considered harmful to the legitimate rule of the central state, yet allow news with negative consequences for local levels of government to be published. A content analysis of official propaganda notices (n = 728) reveals that the propaganda authorities, indeed, engage in selective news censorship. The selective censorship practice also reveals a structural difference: The central propaganda authority focuses more on news related to national guidelines and policies and the image of the central state and leadership, whereas local propaganda authorities tend to focus more on news that is harmful to social stability and the image of local government. The central authority is found to be more tolerant than its local counterparts, as it allows news media to report a considerable amount of news that have negative consequences for local levels of government—news which, on the other hand, is heavily censored by the local propaganda authorities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-171
Number of pages18
JournalChinese Political Science Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • Central state
  • China
  • Local levels of government
  • News censorship
  • Propaganda

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