BEIJING — In the midst of the most dramatic crackdown on free speech in China in decades, the Communist Party’s propaganda department has been firmly rapped on the knuckles — for not shaping public opinion and promoting the party’s point of view forcefully enough
Powerful government inspectors from the disciplinary commission issued a report Thursday publicly berating the propaganda department for not taking firm enough control of the Internet, the media, arts, and universities.
Since taking power more than three years ago, President Xi Jinping has significantly extended the Communists’ power. In the past year alone, the US State Department says, hundreds of human rights activists, lawyers, journalists, and civil society leaders have been detained.
Still, there is clearly more work to be done. After a two-month review of the propaganda department, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection issued a report on its website Thursday containing what the South China Morning Post described as ‘‘strong’’ criticism.
‘‘The effect of guiding culture and art to serve socialism and art is not obvious enough,’’ Wang Haichen, the leader of the inspection team, was quoted as saying. ‘‘Its news propaganda is not targeted enough, or effective enough.
‘‘It needs to strengthen further its leadership of ideological work. It does not do enough in applying the principle of the party controlling the media in weak points like new media, or in coordinating thought and political work at universities.’’