Document Type

Thesis

Date of Degree

Summer 2015

Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)

Degree In

Journalism

First Advisor

Lyombe Eko

Abstract

Recent years have witnessed an increase in the phenomenon of highly publicized trial in China. There have been studies exploring the relationship between the media and the political system, especially the judicial system in China. Scholarship on this topic has shown that the Chinese media are playing an increasingly important role in sustaining the regime. Specifically, they are becoming more influential over the outcomes of court cases and have developed to one of the most important actors in China's legal system (Wang & Tan, 2008; Liebman, 2005, 2010; Stockmann &Gallagher, 2011). The media-court relationship provides insights into China's politics, and more importantly, reflects the logics and rationale behind the Communist Party-state's governance. This thesis aims to contribute to existing knowledge on the functioning of the Chinese judicial system using as a case study, the trial of Yao Jiaxin, a young man prosecuted for a particularly heinous murder. This case study explores the dynamic relationship between the media and the courts in China under the framework of the “governmentality” of the Chinese Communist Party. The findings showed that the relationship between the media and the courts is changing, and the public has become an important actor in this relationship. As such, both the media and the courts are now more responsive to public opinion. This new dynamic is attributed to China’s evolution to a governmentality of “soft authoritarianism,” which is enabled by the Internet, mainly online forums and social media platforms in China. However, Yao’s case also suggested some limitations of China’s governmentality. First, social actors including the media and the court are facing challenges in achieving a balance between being responsive to the public and maintaining their professional integrity. Secondly, “soft” authoritarianism is only a means to an end, not an end in itself. Individual interests are expected to be sacrificed for the sake of collective interests under this governmentality.

Public Abstract

Recent years have witnessed an increase in the phenomenon of highly publicized trial in China. There have been studies exploring the relationship between the media and the political system, especially the judicial system in China. Scholarship on this topic has shown that the Chinese media are playing an increasingly important role in sustaining the regime. Specifically, they are becoming more influential over the outcomes of court cases and have developed to one of the most important actors in China's legal system (Wang&Tan, 2008; Liebman, 2005, 2010; Stockmann & Gallagher, 2011). The media-court relationship provides insights into China's politics, and more importantly, reflects the logics and rationale behind the Communist Party-state's governance. This thesis aims to contribute to existing knowledge on the functioning of the Chinese judicial system using as a case study, the trial of Yao Jiaxin, a young man prosecuted for a particularly heinous murder. This case study explores the dynamic relationship between the media and the courts in China under the framework of the “governmentality”---the logic of governance. The findings showed that the relationship between the media and the courts is changing, and the public has become an important viarable in this relationship. As such, both the media and the courts are now more responsive to public opinion. This new dynamic is attributed to China’s evolution to a governmentality of “soft authoritarianism,” which is enabled by the Internet, mainly online forums and social media platforms in China. However, Yao’s case also suggested some limitations of China’s governmentality. First, both the media and the court are facing challenges in achieving a balance between being responsive to the public and maintaining their professional integrity under this governmentality. Secondly, “soft” authoritarianism is only a means to an end, not an end in itself. Individual interests are expected to be sacrificed for the sake of collective interests under this governmentality.

Keywords

publicabstract, China, governmentality, the court, the media, the public

Pages

viii, 50 pages

Bibliography

Includes bibliographical references (pages 46-50).

Copyright

Copyright 2015 Ruoxi Liu

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