General Secretary Xi Jinping this week made his first visit to Wuhan since the covid-19 outbreak upended all corners of Chinese society. Xi’s trip was designed to reassure the public that their government has the virus contained — and things will get back to normal.But China’s propaganda apparatus has been in high gear since January. What is the official playbook, and has the propaganda been effective?Focus on success — and heroismStudies show modern authoritarian governments increasingly turn to information manipulation, rather than relying on ideological indoctrination or physical repression to maintain rule. They do this to generate an image of competence and increase public support. One useful tactic is to associate good news with the government and shift blame for bad news.Consistent with this perspective, China’s propaganda efforts focused on the decisive measures to control the epidemic. A few commercially oriented outlets like Caixin published investigative pieces, but official media such as the China Central Television, People’s Daily and their social media accounts have been blanketing the country with features about the Communist Party leadership’s efforts commanding the “people’s war” against the virus. Other propaganda focused on new policies and regulations and allocation of resources, the steady improvement of the


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