I Ran Into the Propaganda Department While Eating a Hamburger at MacDonald’s in Kunming! 我在昆明麦当劳吃汉堡时候碰到宣传部!

Highlights of 2003 “Practical Manual for Party Propaganda Work”

In 2007 I bought the 2003 edition of the “Practical Manual for Party Propaganda Work” in a Kunming bookstore.   Wouldn’t you know it,  as I started reading it as I innocently munched on a hamburger in a nearby MacDonald’s, the fellow next to me started staring at me with an astonished look on his face.  Turns out that that fellow was from the Kunming City Communist Party Committee’s Propaganda Department!  A practitioner you would have to say.  

He told me that book is much too abstract and really isn’t of any use!

This 2003 Red Flag Publishing House, purchased at the Kunming Xinhua Bookstore is also widely available online.  Chinese Communist Party Secretary Hu Jintao, in his foreword to the book, wrote “If the masses are not guided by a scientific theory as the push forward social change, they cannot succeed …As times change our thinking and understanding too must move forward…the theoretical basis of the Party, must based on what we have inherited from the past constantly absorb new experiences and new thinking.” In the first section of the “Propaganda Manual” Hu Jintao and others expound on the “Three Represents” of former Party Secretary Jiang Zemin.

As a Kunming City Party propaganda worker warned me, the book, and especially the first section, was very dull reading. The next sections on the theory, purposes and methods of Party propaganda work were more enlightening.

 Goals of Party Propaganda

 The goal of Party propaganda is to mould generation after generation of new socialist people. (p. 80)

  •  Insist on positiveness in propaganda. News reporting should hold to the positiveness principle by handling properly the balance praise and exposing problems. In any case, the reader should be left with feelings of encouragement, trust, courage and hope. (p. 82 -82)
  • Party propaganda must serve the purposes of the Party center and give guidance to the people (p.82)
  • Propaganda should saturate society. The object of a propaganda message needs to get the message continually and from many different sources including books, movies, periodicals and the Internet. The experience of the Party shows that messages from many sources re-enforce one another. Different people and groups need to get the message in  a way that is suitable for them. (pp. 88 -89)
  • The Internet has an ever greater impact on people’s thinking. People outside mainland China are always plotting ways to infiltrate China ideologically. We need to strengthen  our management of news websites and other websites.
  • Make clear to everyone that development is the number one task for China and the Party. Development is the key to solving all the problems facing China today.
  •  Ideological awareness and strength is an important dimension of China’s overall national strength. (p. 98)

 Methods of Party Propaganda

  •  Preparing the masses for a change in the Party line is an art form. The change must be subtle and gradual so as not to upset people, always keeping in mind the capacity of the masses to accept change. With changes in the line, propaganda intensifies so that it penetrates everywhere. (pp. 107 -108)

 Propagandizing Foreigners

  •  Feeding propaganda to foreigners is done differently from domestic propaganda work. The first task is learning about your propaganda target, keeping in mind that the targets of foreign propaganda are different from the targets of domestic propaganda. The approach will also vary according to the country or area of the person.
  • Take a subtler and gentler approach. Present facts and let them draw their own  conclusions. Explain what the foreigner doesn’t understand, even over simplifying if necessary. Avoid using propaganda slogans or saying things that might cause disagreement.
  • Make use of visitors to China to spread the propaganda message overseas. Be sure to give the foreigners only what they can accept. Take care that what they see and their experiences in China will, when they return home, help to build an image of China in the minds of the people of the world. (p. 1 18)
  • Other methods include arranging interviews for the friendly foreign press, submitting articles to Xinhua and other Chinese publications aimed at foreign audiences and attention to the positiveness of TV programming on the closed circuit TV system of hotels frequented by foreigners. (pp. 1 18 -1 19)
  • Make sister city agreements with foreign cities.
  • Plan tourist group itineraries so visitors will get a positive impression of China.
  • Arrange for tour group guides and interpreters to subscribe to foreign language Chinese magazines destined for foreign audiences.


  •  While respecting the principle of religious freedom, strengthen education of the masses, and of young people in particular, in dialectical materialism. As Lenin said, ignorance and foolishness are the deepest roots of religion. Thus the roots of religion will last for a long time to come. We have no alternative but to implement a policy of religious freedom and not of compulsion. Through education in socialist culture and civilization, we will weaken the roots of religion. The role of Party propaganda is to uphold the rights of both believers and non-believers and not allow religion to be used to harm the country.
  •  In recent years, there have been some propaganda that does not comply with the Party’s religion policy that has offended believers. We should not use words that offend believers. If in doubt about whether propaganda is too sensitive, contact the United Front Department [Tongzhanbu] for advice.
  • Religion is a particularly sensitive topic in international affairs. We should be especially careful to correctly present the Party’s policy on religion to foreigners.
  •  Religious publications should be closely controlled.
  • Foreign publications are not allowed.
  • Literature and art works should treat religions matters properly. (pp. 124 -125)


 The top priority is to uphold the principle of unity of all China’s nationalities.

  • It is essential not to equate the reasonable demands for autonomy under the Party’s minorities policy with splittism.
  • Throughout the entire country, propaganda should stress that the unity of the Han nationality and of the national minorities.
  • While minority people should be encouraged to learn Chinese, minority languages should be respected and promoted. (p. 125 -126)

 The concluding section on the art of making speeches discusses not only Mao Zedong but also Ronald Reagan and Lincoln’s Second Inaugural. (pp. 237,242).

About 高大伟 David Cowhig

After retirement translated,with wife Jessie, Liao Yiwu's 2019 "Bullets and Opium", and have been studying things 格物致知. Worked 25 years as a US State Department Foreign Service Officer including ten years at US Embassy Beijing and US Consulate General Chengdu and four years as a China Analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Before State I translated Japanese and Chinese scientific and technical books and articles into English freelance for six years. Before that I taught English at Tunghai University in Taiwan for three years. And before that I worked two summers on Norwegian farms, milking cows and feeding chickens.
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1 Response to I Ran Into the Propaganda Department While Eating a Hamburger at MacDonald’s in Kunming! 我在昆明麦当劳吃汉堡时候碰到宣传部!

  1. 喝茶记 says:


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