Thursday, June 24, 2021 | 8:00 PM EDT - 9:15 PM EDT

Zoom webinar | Denise Ho, Karrie Koesel, Maria Repnikova

The July 2021 centennial of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will be an important milestone in China, accompanied by media fanfare and celebration. As the Party promotes the story of its successes and accomplishments to its people and the world, what does it choose to minimize or ignore? Through the lenses of museums, traditional and new media, and political education in schools, we examined how China projects its image in a rapidly shifting global landscape.

On June 24, 2021, the National Committee hosted a virtual discussion with Denise Ho, Karrie Koesel, and Maria Repnikova as they explored how the Chinese Communist Party shapes and projects its identity to its own people and beyond.

Below are five key takeaways from the presentation:

  • Denise Ho: The idea of “two hundred years,” a common theme in CCP museums and exhibitions, refers to the centenary of the CCP’s founding (2021) and the centenary of PRC’s establishment (2049). These anniversaries reflect the CCP’s two central messages that the Party is forward looking and the Party is inseparable from the nation and the Chinese people.
  • Maria Repnikova: The CCP continues to place great importance on the role of external actors, such as external media and foreign officials, in legitimizing the Party’s rule, yet the medium of external legitimization has evolved, and participants diversified over time.
  • Karrie Koesel: Education in China is deeply controlled by the party-state and therefore an essential tool for the state to transmit its political knowledge, share its worldview, and fine-tune its message. Political education in China has become more sophisticated and nuanced over the years, allowing opportunities for self-correction and reflection.
  • Karrie Koesel: The narrative of democracy has been present in Chinese political education since the 1950s, but in the form of “socialist democracy,” presented as an effective alternative to the “capitalist democracy” of the western world that has been portrayed as extreme, corrupt, and fostering inequality.
  • Maria Repnikova: We can expect a linear development of CCP’s media narrative into the future, accompanied by more aggressive moves by the Party to buy out local media outlets across the world. It will be interesting to observe whether China’s strategy of providing communication infrastructure along with its messaging will help promote its image as a powerful global leader.

Denise Y. Ho

Denise Y. Ho is an assistant professor of twentieth-century Chinese history at Yale University. Her research focuses on the social and cultural history of the Mao years; she is also interested in urban history, the study of information and propaganda, and the history of memory. Her scholarship has appeared in The China Quarterly, Frontiers of History in China, History Compass, and Modern China, and her writings on art, culture, and history in The Atlantic, ChinaFile, Dissent, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and The Nation among other publications. Prior to joining the history department at Yale, Dr. Ho taught at the University of Kentucky and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Dr. Ho received her bachelor’s degree in history from Yale University, and her master’s and doctoral degrees, also in history, from Harvard University. She is a fellow in the Public Intellectuals Program of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations.

Karrie J. Koesel

Karrie J. Koesel is an associate professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame where she specializes in the study of contemporary Chinese and Russian politics, authoritarianism, and religion and politics. She is the author of Religion and Authoritarianism: Cooperation, Conflict and the Consequences and co-editor of Citizens & the State in Authoritarian Regimes: Comparing China and Russia, and is currently working on a book-length project, “Learning to Be Loyal: Patriotic Education in Authoritarian Regimes.” Her work has appeared in World Politics, Perspectives on Politics, The China Quarterly, Post-Soviet Affairs, Economics and Politics, Demokratizatsiya, and the Review of Religion and Chinese Society. Dr. Koesel earned her Ph.D. in 2009 in government from Cornell University and won the 2010 American Political Science Association Aaron Wildavsky Award for the best dissertation on religion and politics. She is a fellow in the Public Intellectuals Program of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations.

Maria Repnikova

Maria Repnikova is a scholar of China’s political communication, including domestic media politics, and soft power practices of the Chinese state. She is an assistant professor of global communication at Georgia State University and a 2020-21 Wilson Fellow. Dr. Repnikova is the author of the award-winning book, Media Politics in China: Improvising Power Under Authoritarianism (Cambridge Press 2017), and a number of articles in top academic journals, such as China Quarterly, Comparative Politics, International Journal of Press/Politics and other venues. She has also widely written for public and policy audiences in The New York Times, Washington Post, and Foreign Affairs, amongst other outlets. In the past, Dr. Repnikova was the director of the Center for Global Information Studies at Georgia State University, a fellow in the National Committee’s Public Intellectuals Program, and a post-doctoral fellow at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. She holds a doctorate in politics from Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar.