Media Politics in China: The Resilience of Critical Journalism Maria Repnikova, Georgia State University

3pm-4.30pm, Friday 6 March
Room 139, 25 Bute Gardens, University of Glasgow

Popular images of Chinese media from the past decade generally cast it as an agent of state propaganda or as a feeble object of censorship. In this talk, Maria Repnikova questions the dichotomy between the media and the party, with the former perpetually dominated by the latter, in her analysis of “critical journalism.” Drawing on her book, Media Politics in China: Improvising Power under Authoritarianism (Cambridge University Press, 2017), Dr Repnikova will introduce a web of complex negotiations taking place between investigative journalists who have probed sensitive issues such as food safety and corruption, and party officials. Chinese critical journalists do not protest overtly, but their dynamic relationship with the party-state, characterized by “guarded improvisation,” leaves room for an important creative and political agency as they cautiously cover complicated, and sometimes controversial, topics. The talk will explore journalist-state dynamics with an emphasis on the coronavirus, demonstrating how despite the media restrictions under Xi, some journalists managed to present an alternative framing of this disaster and hold some officials accountable.


Maria Repnikova is a scholar of China's political communication, including critical journalism, propaganda, and most recently, China's soft power campaign in Africa. Her work has been published in China Quarterly, Journal of Contemporary China, and Comparative Politics, amongst other academic venues. Her book, Media Politics in China (Cambridge University Press 2017), won the best book of the year award from the Journal of International Press/Politics in 2019. She regularly contributes to non-academic venues as well, including the NYT, Foreign Policy, WSJ, and Foreign Affairs. Dr Repnikova is an Assistant Professor in Global Communication at Georgia State University. She has a doctorate in Politics from Oxford University.


The Scottish Centre for China Research Seminar Programme gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the MacFie Bequest.


For enquiries and information, please contact: Professor Jane Duckett (


First published: 2 March 2020

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