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68 When the Party-state’s propaganda practices are successful they make it easier for the Party-state to dominate the public sphere and articulate its official narrative consistently and coherently while making it harder for others to do the same. 36 The Globalization of Chinese Propaganda By combining these two different approaches to power—the more direct, actor-focused concept of compulsory power and the more indirect, discourse-focused concept of productive power—it is possible to gain a more complete perspective on the role of propaganda in the Chinese political system and to compare the Party-state’s use of propaganda practices in China to its attempts to generate influence abroad.

At the same time the Party-state uses propaganda practices to suppress discourses that it views as threatening cohesion. For example, the idea of the PLA as an army of the Chinese state is suppressed while articulations of PLA loyalty to the Party are reproduced; the idea that the interests of the CCP and the Chinese people are the same and that “without the Communist Party there would be no new China” is articulated while anyone who makes public statements suggesting the top leadership enjoys a luxurious lifestyle far removed from that of the common people faces serious repercussions; the media promote the benefits of Party-state policies for autonomous regions such as Tibet and Xinjiang while scrupulously avoiding any suggestion that Taiwan might not be part of China.

Essentially the narrative that helps to justify and sustain the CCP’s dominant position in the Chinese political system is under threat and the Party-state views the exercise of power through the use of propaganda practices as a necessary and appropriate way to shore up consensus and to eliminate threatening discourses from the public domain. The Party-state also sees national cohesion as a source of power for China in relation to the rest of the world, but before examining the international consequences of the Party-state’s focus on the need for cohesion, which will be covered in later chapters, it is first necessary to outline how the idea of cohesion is used by the Party-state and how this relates to the use of propaganda practices in China.

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