China is becoming a major player in the global economy, but this has not translated into greater media freedom inside China. Authorities in the government are trying to balance the need for more information with their goal of controlling content as a means to maintain power. China’s media is becoming more varied, more professional, more competitive, and there is an increase in investigative reporting by Chinese news agencies. These are positive steps for the Chinese media.
Expats should know that according to a government report, there are more than 2,000 newspapers, over 8,000 magazines, and some 374 television stations in the country. China also has over 500 million Internet users (the most in the world), and, despite restrictions governing online content, many domestic and international stories that censors would prefer to control do indeed slip through the government’s online firewalls. Since only state agencies can own media in China, expats must bear in mind that the content in this media is what the Chinese government wants them to read or hear.
The watchdog group Reporters without Borders ranked China 173 out of 179 countries in its 2013 index of press freedom. China requires foreign correspondents to get permission before making reporting trips within the country and reporters often face harassment if they cover delicate issues. Another method of media control is to interfere with and disturb the reception of international radio services, for example Voice of America and BBC, as well as the blacking out of CNN News when they broadcast news items on Tibet, the June 4th Tiananmen Square incident, and other sensitive matters. There are also serious restrictions on international satellite services. Only hotels with a three star or higher ranking are permitted to receive such signals, but satellite TV in homes are not uncommon: they are theoretically illegal but nobody prosecutes its use. The customs office in China is especially tight in controlling the importation of books.
Nonetheless, there are numerous newspapers and magazines available to expats in Shanghai – a couple of them are in English. Among them are:
- Shanghai Daily (http://www.shanghaidaily.com) – English language daily
- Wenhui Bao (http://wenhui.news365.com.cn) – Chinese language daily
- Xinmin Wanbao (http://www.xmwb.com.cn) – Chinese language daily
- China Youth Daily (http://www.cyol.net) – Chinese language daily
- China Daily (http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/) – Bi-lingual daily
- Shanghai Morning Post (http://www.jfdaily.com) – Chinese language daily
- Shanghai Shen Bao (no website found) – Chinese language daily
All dailies cost 1 or 2 RMB and can be found on the newsstands along the street. These stands are predominantly situated beside subway stations or busy bus stops. You can also go to Newspapers24.com and read the Shanghai papers online: http://www.newspapers24.com/world-cities/shanghai-newspapers/
Western newspapers are not freely available in Shanghai. Only at a few major hotels will you find the International Herald Tribune and Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post. The most commonly read newspaper is the Shanghai Daily, which does cover major international events, but is mainly concerned with the economic progress of the city.
Western magazines can be hard to find in newsstands and bookshops, but the fake (the quality of the press is not the best, but the contents, of course, are the same as the original) versions are widely available in street stalls. The free local listings magazines like Shanghai Talk, 8 Days, That’s Shanghai and City Weekend offer recreational reading.
English Newspaper Editions in Shanghai
- Overview China Media: http://www.mondotimes.com/1/world/cn
- China Daily (English): http://www.chinadaily.com.cn
- Shanghai Daily (English): http://www.shanghaidaily.com/
- Beijing Review (Magazine): http://www.bjreview.com.cn/
Many of the major expatriate associations have their own monthly publication for members, with information on expatriate life and events.
International newspapers, such as the New York Times, Financial Timed of London, il Figaro, la Prensa, and Washington Post are only found in the SBK Books chain. There is one at Gubei Carrefour Level 2, or the XuJiaHui SBK Books located next to KFC (opposite Grand Gateway, along Hongqiao Rd). You can also find them at most foreign hotels in the 4-5 star categories.