Campaign Chinese Style
A Case Study
of China's Family Planning Communication
School of Journalism
Bloomington, IN. 47405
[log in to unmask]
Paper submitted for presentation at the International Division of AEJMC
Campaign Chinese Style
[Astract: This paper examines the communication practices of China's family
planning campaign in two periods before and after 1991. In light of
communication theories, it discusses what the Chinese has to offer in terms of
interpersonal communication and campaign.]
The world has always been curious about China if only because it is the home of
almost one-quarter of the human race. This curiosity has been further whetted
over the last three decades as reports appeared first of an unusually rapid
mortality decline and then of steeply falling fertility. 
The feat is accomplished largely due to China's birth control policy formally
implemented in 1979. In aiming for a zero natural growth rate by the year
2000, the country embarked on a population campaign whose magnitude the world
has never known before.
This paper examines the communication aspect of such a campaign. In light of
development communication theories, it discusses some of the lessons the Chinese
policy has to offer.
Things have much changed, however, since China formally launched its family
planning campaign at a grand scale in 1979. More than a decade of rapid economic
growth has raised living standards and enabled growing numbers of Chinese to
assume greater control over their own lives, which was unimaginable twenty years
ago. The degree of government and party control over the economy and the mass
media has continued to decline. It is interesting then to examine how messages
of family planning polices were communicated at the onset of the campaign, when
the central government had monopoly control over all aspects of social and even
private life, and how these messages are conveyed at present when central
control has declined considerably.
China's Demographic situation
The world's third largest country after Russia and Canada, China boasts 9.6
million square kilometers of national territory. However, it is mostly dominated
by mountains, high plateaus and deserts in the west. Only 10 percent of the land
is suitable for cultivation. Yet toiling on this tiny portion of arable land are
most of China's labor force---80 percent of the country's estimated population
of 1.2 billion are peasants.
When the People's Republic of China was established in 1949, its economy was
suffering from severe dislocations caused by decades of war and inflation.
Following the example of the early Soviet experience, China created a centrally
planned economy. But major political turmoil and poor economic planning gave the
Chinese nothing more than traumas. In 1975, then Premier Zhou Enlai outlined a
new set of economic goals to elevate China to the status of a "front rank"
economic power by the year 2000. This multi-staged effort, described as the
"Four Modernization" program, aimed to achieve ambitious levels of production in
Chinese agriculture, industry, science and technology, and national defense.
Family planning was necessary, the government argued, for the realization of
The Family Planning Campaign
Nature of The Campaign
Alarmed by its population projection and inspired by its goals to
modernization, the Chinese government launched in 1979 a planned birth campaign
aimed at a zero growth rate by the year 2000. Since then, the campaigned has
either amazed admirers or dismayed critics worldwide.
The Chinese population fluctuated at less than 60 million for almost 1,500
years from the Mid-Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-220 A.D.) to the late Ming Dynasty
(1368-1644). Then in less than 300 years, the population increased to 426
million in 1901. During the next 80 years the population more than doubled,
reaching 996 million by the end of 1981. According to the latest 1990 China
census, the count has jumped to 1.16 billion people. The state council
reported a population of 1.2 billion on 15th, , 1995.
China experienced a long baby boom from the early 1960s to the early 1970s,
with an annual natural growth rate of 2 percent. By 1973, the total population
increased by 65 percent over that of 1949. The sharp population increase
brought about a large population base with a young age structure. Some 65 per
cent of the whole population was under the age of 30. If the government
didn't pay serious attention to family planning, there would be a new spiral of
baby boom again, which would put an economic strain on the country's efforts to
increase the per capita income level.
In the 1970s, as the Chinese government speeded up its Four Modernization drive
it recognized the urgency to keep the population growth rate within bounds in
order to achieve the goal of quadrupling the gross value of industrial and
agricultural production by the end of the century. As a result, starting from
1979, the country launched a massive birth control campaign with the promotion
of the "one couple, one child" policy. On the 12th National Congress of the
Chinese Communist Party in 1980, family planning was designated as one of the
basic state policies.
The government was at the same time very concerned about the shortage of funds
for the maintenance and education of an unrestricted number of additional
children. It feared that a rapid population growth would hinder the
elevation of the population's scientific and cultural level due to the number
of school-age children who would not be able to complete secondary school. In
addition, China's leaders were fully aware of the magnitude of the task of
raising living standards. A slow or zero population growth will make this goal
easier to achieve. Between 1953 and 1978, consumption in China increased
2.8 times, but because the population increased by 66.7 percent, the per capita
consumption increased only 1.3 times. Seeing all this, the Chinese
government decided that without a stringent population policy, its ambition to
elevate to an economic power was very much in question.
Target Audience And Its Characteristics
Theoretically, the campaign aimed mostly at child-bearing couples. But since
the Chinese government was so determined and given its monopoly of power, it
actually targeted and motivated the whole of China. This actually made sense, as
the goal of public health communication was to change behavior and to sustain
this change. In fact, researchers have explicitly stated that family planning
programs ultimately depend on reaching and influencing entire populations so
that people would practice regularly, consistently and effectively in
For centuries, family has been the most important part of the Chinese society.
The Chinese treasure family life. Values which emphasize a strong and big family
are central to Confucian teaching. Traditionally, one with four generations
living together is thought to be the most ideal. In fact, Chinese novelist Lao
She titled his best work Four Generations Under One Roof .
Confucius' teaching has been prevalent throughout most of the history of
China. It is a philosophy favoring the patriarchal family structure. According
to Confucian teaching, "A woman is to obey her father before marriage, her
husband during married time and her son in widowhood."
These traditions also stress the importance of carrying on the family line
through male progeny, resulting in son preference. Besides, the choice has two
economic bases. Without a comprehensive welfare system, sons are advantageous in
supporting their parents in old age. Upon marriage, a woman begins to be
regarded as a member of the husband's family. While she begins to take care of
her parents-in-law, her duty to look after her own parents diminishes. That duty
naturally falls to the sons in the family. So parents with a son or more would
feel safe that they have somebody to support and look after them when they
become old. On the other hand, sons are able to provide heavy labor for the farm
or family business where most of the work is still done by hand.
Media And Its Role in The Campaign
The Chinese government announced in 1979 a two-stage campaign aimed at reducing
the natural increase rate to 5 per 1000 by 1985, and to zero by 2000. Stage one
called for elimination of multiparity (more than three) births by 1985 combined
with the commencement of the one-child family campaign. Stage two called for the
extension of the one-child family.
The Chinese media are always subordinate to the Party, being financed and
controlled by the government. Though less so today, it was a simple truth in
1979 that the main purpose of communication in China is to build socialism.
The overall role for the mass media at the onset of the campaign was to
propagate the policies of the party, to educate , to organize , and to mobilize
the masses. The media undertook the function of informing the public of
available contraceptive methods and the rationales for practicing birth control
and also that of supervising the campaign.
We will first look at the period between 1979 and 1991 and compare
communication use in this period and afterwards. In 1991, more than ten years
after the campaign's inception, Chinese leaders realized that the campaign had
lost its vigor and a new phase of communication activities were in order because
of a much changed social and economic structure. This was evidenced by a
call in January 1991 from Pen Peiyun, the current Minister-in-Charge of the
State Family Planning
Commission, to family planning workers throughout the country saying that they
must "unwaveringly use the basic family planning practices that have been
effective for many years." An official new drive was launched at a national
family planning symposium in April 1991 in an effort to revive a waning
Communication Practices before 1991
Newspaper, Magazines, Books, Pamphlets and Posters
Articles in the Chinese press explained the rationales for planned birth and
late marriage and the advantages for the individual, the family and the state,
as well as contraceptive methods. Editorials in favor of the Party's policy were
discussed in group newspaper reading, better known as the political study
session, on a regular basis, usually once or twice a week.
The Chinese press also assumed the role of supervision in that it criticized
attitudes and practices unfavorable to the campaign. For example, when
contraceptives were distributed through sale at drugstores, newspapers
criticized the stores for failure to give contraceptives prominent display.
Magazines in China served specific audiences. The now defunct Red Flag was the
Party's ideological organ, carrying articles providing ideological and policy
guidance on planned birth. Subscription was compulsory for every organization
and institution. Two other popular magazines, Chinese Youth and Women of China,
devoted many pages to impart knowledge of planned birth to Chinese women.
According to the Ministry of Public Health, a total of 150 million books, and
600,000 illustrations or posters had been published for the campaign by the end
of 1988. Pamphlets and calendars were also published to propagate family
Film, Television and Radio
Despite its high cost, the TV set has found its way into Chinese families.
Seven of ten in Beijing reportedly own their TV sets. In 1980 there were around
630,000 sets. By 1990, the number was more than 180 million. Nationwide, 509
stations originated programs, with 7,475 rebroadcasting stations and around 400
microwave stations to serve county seats and some rural districts. However,
before 1991 radio played a more important role than television. It undertook the
enormous task of reaching the hard-to-reach: one million Chinese villages.
It is estimated that approximately 11 out of every 100 Chinese owned a radio
set, while at the same time 95 percent of the population were reached by wired
Television and radio were widely used to report success stories, announce
directives, and popularize models. The role of wired broadcasting in rural areas
was more direct and close to the masses. Aside from regular messages, a special
"broadcasting meeting," might be convened. Villagers gathered and listened to
wired broadcasts about decisions made by the central authorities.
Film was a major form of information and entertainment for Chinese peasants. On
the average, a Chinese went to a movie 30 times a year--double the rate for
almost any country. While the movies might be about something else, slides
shows with party messages were always presented before the showing of a movie.
So no theater goer could escape a planned birth message.
Traditional And Interpersonal Communication
The Chinese communists had long realized that the folk media were rich in
cultural symbols, were close to people at the grassroots and highly
participatory. They consisted of a variety of forms: folk theater, puppetry,
story-telling, folk dances, ballads and mime. Usually, ad hoc "Spare-time
Cultural Propaganda Teams" were organized and gave performances on make-shift
stages or street corners, telling stories of planned birth struggles and
But, to understand the Chinese communication system one needs to realize that
it's primarily a personal, vis-a-vis network. The media have been used as the
long-range artillery, to borrow a phrase from Wilbur Schramm. Bombers and
artillery softened a position, but eventually the infantry had to go in to
establish control. In China, the interpersonal system was the infantry.
While development directions were undoubtedly top-down, the Chinese way of
communication was a case of almost everyone talking to everyone, regarding the
ends and means of mobilization and development. It involved a high intensity
of interpersonal communication at the grassroots level as well as mass media
communication at the national level. It represented an integrated use of the
media, the schools, the cadres, and above all, the local small groups.
Participation in this gigantic communication network was both a right and an
Keep one notion in mind: one of the most conspicuous features of the Chinese
administrative organization was that it embraced every single individual.
Every Chinese citizen belonged to some active organization which was linked
through government machinery to the central authorities. There were no
In the urban areas people belonged to neighborhood committees, subcommittees or
neighborhood groups in addition to being members of a factory. In rural areas
people belonged to the communes, production brigades or production teams.
Population information was disseminated through neighborhood committees,
groups, and workshops.
The Communist Party had cadres in key positions of these organizations and
played an important role in social life through the neighborhood committees,
youth committees, cultural committees, etc. Obviously, the organized
interpersonal method of communication can be used very successfully.
To ensure that people accepted and continued the practice of planned birth and
late marriage, the message was repeated often enough to make ignorance of the
policy difficult, if not impossible. Thus, one might be advised to marry late or
practice planned birth in a factory clinic. Upon returning home the person might
be approached by a member of the street committee or woman's federation to tell
the same message. In the evening, he/she was mobilized to attend a specific
study session or to watch a cultural performance with a planned birth theme.
The individual household visit was an important technique in China's planned
birth communication. Local women or Party cadres and barefoot doctors were
largely responsible for these household visits. They perform the dual function
of persuasion and delivery of medicine and contraceptives. Because they were
local people with good local ties, their advice carried a great deal of weight.
Sometimes, these kinds of persuasion-oriented visits were repeated again and
again until the reluctant couple agreed to follow the Party policy.
In order to achieve a zero growth rate, a nationwide quota system for births
was in place in 1981. Provinces were given target figures according to its
demographic situation. They were then broken down proportionately by
prefectures, counties, towns and districts. Each unit--a village, a factory, or
government bureau--received a yearly allotment of allowable births. Local party
chiefs were told in no uncertain terms that they must "grasp fertility planning
work firmly"  and meet the quotas. "Although the task is difficult, the
birth targets can be attained with strong leadership," they were exhorted by
higher-ups. The planned birth work was in turn tied to the evaluation of a
unit's performance and financial rewards.
At the same time, provincial authorities began to pass laws requiring that all
couples practice family planning and imposing severe financial penalties on
those who had unauthorized second or higher order births.
As family planning demands escalated, official attitudes toward those who dared
to resist hardened. In August, 1979, Chen Muhua, Commission director, asserted
that if the family planning program posed a conflict between the interests of
the individual and those of the state, the individual's interests should be
subordinated. As a result, brute force was used by over-zealous bureaucrats
to implement the policy. Pregnant women were often taken from their homes and
families, locked up some miles away, and subject to grueling propaganda
sessions. The woman and her family were fined, harassed, and threatened over the
course of these sessions.
Another violent response of a society caught between the quota system and
parental desire for more children was infanticide. Female infanticide became
a salient issue. While the arrival of a son heralds a relaxed and secure old
age; the coming of a daughter portends poverty and slow starvation during one's
declining years. It is a tragedy that many peasants decided in favor of
their own security and traded the infant's life for their own. With quota
imposed on a reluctant population by powerful local officials--themselves
pressured by their superiors to curb births--widespread involuntary abortion,
infanticide, and female infanticide were the inevitable result.
Under intense international pressure and domestic discontent, however,
these practices have seen a trend of fast decline. Chinese leaders now often
admonish their subordinates to watch out for their attitude." Coercion is
practiced less frequently.
Media Use in the 1990s
China's news media before the 1980's was known for its uniformity. One got the
same information either from reading or listening to radio. However, the
introduction of the reform policy also brought about changes in the news media.
In the past, three newspapers and one magazine used to dominate the print
media. In 1993, the number of registered newspapers amounted to 2,039. The
number of pages in these newspapers also increased from the traditional four
pages to eight or even 32 pages.
In terms of the electronic media, China had 93 radio stations and 32 TV
stations in 1978. By the end of 1992, the numbers soared to 943 radio stations
and 640 TV stations.
In 1992, many news organizations undertook a transforming process to become
"independent" enterprises: that the government would no longer subsidize
the organization. As a result, news concepts and news values gradually took on
a new face. While structurally, all news organizations remain affiliates of
the government, news workers began to draw the line between propaganda and news
reporting. Reporters publicly voiced complaints against too much interference
from above. Political control gradually gave way to commercialism. On 25th,
January, 1993, Wen Wei Pao, a newspaper for intellectuals, caused a sensation by
selling the front page to an air conditioning factory.
In the face of declining control over the mass media as well as individual
lives, the Chinese government came up with a number of measures and strategies
in its family planning work. Communication of these messages became more
sophisticated and less conspicuous in its propaganda touch. The population
control policy relies more on education and economic incentives since the early
For the first ten years in the campaign, the model was basically top-down,
dumping all kinds of birth control messages from all available channels. The
sole purpose of the campaign was to curtail population growth. Policies were
propagated to the public and all sectors of the society were to follow these
policies. In the 1990's, the country adopted a two-way communication
strategy. Family planning workers act as messengers between the government and
the public. While in the past, the aim of the campaign was obedience. It now
seeks willing compliance or even active participation of child-bearing
A major policy shift was formulated in July 1991, modeling after the
experience of a small county in Jiangsu province. In Sheyang county, as
elsewhere in the country, everyone wanted to become rich fast with the economic
opportunity the reform policies had brought about. For those who wanted to
seize the moment, child-bearing and child rearing apparently presented an
obstacle to quick wealth. Plagued by the inertia the family planning work had
encountered for years in the wave of commercialism, Sheyang county officials saw
light ahead and came up with the idea later known as "the three combinations:"
namely, "combining family planning work with economic growth, with individual
desires to become rich and with the building of a happy and civilized
family." In effect, this means that couples who practiced birth control
received preferential treatment from the government. In Sheyang, quite a few
couples became rich thanks to government support in terms of information, loan,
and technology. 
Consequentially, content and forms of communication underwent major changes.
Witnessed were less patriotic education and propaganda work and more services
for and consultation on production, daily life and birth control.
One of the common themes in communication is known as "account
comparisons." The message of necessary population control is conveyed
through comparisons of past and present GNP, per capita income, as well as
changes in education, employment, housing and transportation at the national
level, and through comparisons of life qualities of those who have more or
fewer children at the personal level.
Grand-scale campaigning activities also gave way to more face-to-face
communication. Xu, for example, categorized three campaign model shifts
beginning from 1970. She termed the first model spanning from 1970 to 1983
as a motivation model, in which an all-out communication campaign involving all
sectors of the society was in place. From 1983 to 1990, the second model was
adopted in which systematic one-way education was the norm. Since 1991 the third
model gradually replaced the second model in which face-to-face, interpersonal
communication played the major role.
Mass communication channels such as newspapers, magazines, television , radio
and film are still used. Fewer articles and editorials are devoted to merely
explaining the rationales for planned birth and late marriages. More articles
are about success stories of those who practice family planning. The above
mentioned magazine, Women of China , carried no article propagating the party's
policy in its March, 1995 issue, while ten years ago, it had eight articles in
one issue singing the party's ideological stance on family planning. Family
planning messages in the later issue are discussed in the contexts of women's
equal rights, women's position in the family and women's potential in the
Television stations used to set up a section for the production and
transmission of family planning programs, such as CCTV's Population and Family
Planning . Now the messages are embedded in science programs such as Science,
Knowledge and Life. Most noticeable, however, is the principle of "education
in entertainment" playing a prominent part in TV programs with a family
planning message. These programs are short, entertaining, humorous, often played
out by famous actors and actresses and shown on high-rating entertainment shows.
Several TV plays, such as In Front of the Maternal Ward, Many Births Guerrilla
and Happiness or Tragedy have been widely acclaimed and well received.
The once important radio as well as wired radio, which had been sidelined
because of television in the late 1980's, revived itself by live and call-in
shows. Listeners call in to discuss family conflicts, children's education
as well as their sex lives. Radio hosts, instead of an educator in the past,
often becomes a listener to these problems. Beijing Radio Station, for example,
airs a weekly program "Let's talk" in which listeners talk about their own
family planning experience. One of the innovations of the Beijing officials
involves a project with a pager station through which people can call in to
listen to recorded messages about contraceptives and healthy sex. Monthly calls
are reported to amount to 130, 000.
Interpersonal communication, which was given much weight in the 1980s, is given
more importance in the 1990s. Chinese officials understand that family planning
are individual decisions. It has to solve problems and settle suspicion each
individual might have. "One key opens one door," best summarizes the rationale
behind the strategy of face-to-face communication.
One witnesses more family planning associations, population schools, and
consultation clinics in the 1990s. According to the State Family Planning
Commission, there are now more than one million such associations with 80
million members. Every village has at least one family planning clinic.
Perhaps unique in the whole world, China has two training colleges for family
planning cadres, eight such professional schools and twenty provincial training
centers for family planning workers.
Since 1991, China has been supported by the United Nations' Population Fund in
holding interpersonal communication training known as the P35 Project, with a
focus on interpersonal communication skills and birth control technology. By the
end of 1995, 80,000 workers from 19 provinces received such training.
Family planning workers are expected to follow eight adjectives since 1991:
hardworking, (namely have "long legs" so that every household is visited );
knowledgeable ( not only about policies but also technology in birth control);
cautious (not to say anything against current policies); accommodating (even in
the face of insult); meticulous (especially in investigation and persuasion );
practical (so that work is done), strict (in implementing policies) and ready
(to serve whatever needs people might have). In fact, service has been in
the core of the "three combinations" policy. Family planning workers are
expected to solve conflicting interest between the state and the individual but
also report and tackle practical problems, even those unrelated to birth
control. This is the trust building process. Good personal relationships are
said to be the premise of successful family planning work.
Fans and critics of China's family planning campaign have never argued about
the "effectiveness" of it. It has been very effective, to be sure. They differ
not in the interpretation of the outcome, but its means.
Statistically, China had a population of 1.172 billion by the end of 1992,
and 1.2 by February, 1995, about 21 percent of the world's total
population. Based on a population count of 1.13 billion in 1990 and 1.01 in
1982, the China Branch of the U.S. Census Bureau prepared in 1991 a set of
population projections for China to the year 2000, adjusted for under reporting.
According to these projections, China's population in the year 2,000 will be
about 1.3 billion, a population count close to that of 1.29 billion that would
be anticipated on the basis of China's current policy. This projected count
of 1.3 billion, however, is considerably larger than the now dated 1.2 billion
target for the year 2,000 that was introduced in 1979.
Of course, this has been a long campaign. In the mid 1980s Chinese officials
adjusted the target population for the year 2000 to "about 1.2 billion," with
the expectation that the total would be less than 1.25 billion. Around the
1990-1991 period, the target was further modified so that it currently no longer
reflects a total population number, but an average annual growth rate by the
year 2000 of about 1.25 percent. Such a target may be translated into a
projected population of the above-said 1.29 billion.
Simple statistics may conclude that the campaign is not "effective." However,
if one looks at the fertility trend over time, it tells another story. In 1970,
the national rate was 5.81; 2.24 in 1980 and 2 in 1990. The total fertility
rate for China is approaching replacement level in 1995. Therefore, the absolute
population has a lot to do with the population's age structure and improved
Given that the official norm of one child per couple is unacceptable to most of
the people, the campaign in both periods can be claimed effective in spite
of the rapid absolute growth. However, whether the effects are attributable to
communication or administrative measure is open to debate. Evidence in this
article indicates that administrative means were employed more in the first
period while communication, especially interpersonal communication played a
major role in the 1990's.
China's family planning policy has been carried under strong government
control. Administrative intervention and national interest determines the little
choice left for the individual. Under the Communist Party, elaborate
organization and coordination constitute a unique feature of the country's birth
control campaign. Virtually all Chinese can be tabbed for the task, in addition
to health workers, barefoot doctors, and women cadres organized for the work.
Schramm et al. asked the question in their conference paper "China's
Experience With Development Communication: How Transferrable Is It?" They
concluded that the chief things to be transferred to most developing countries
were insights and understandings--general rather than specific. This is a
valid statement. The following, however, is an attempt to generalize from the
specific. What lessons can we learn?
Though the Chinese do not care about theory, the way they communicated
family planning certainly was a strong echo to Hornik's notion of communication
as complement to development. The Chinese have never believed in the
"hyperdermic needle" of communication. Instead, the role of communication has
always been one in support of national policies--of complement. Among the many
functions of complementary communication outlined in Hornik's article, two
stand out as particularly pertinent to the Chinese case: communication as
organizer and motivator. Occasional "broadcast meetings" were used to organize
"political study sessions" to listen to and act upon information received via
the radio. When Hornik said:"...the campaigns were organized around the radio
broadcasts which enabled the central planners to control the pace and essential
structure of the campaign activities," I thought he was talking about China
as it reminded me of too familiar a scene. On the other hand, family planning
messages were repeated again and again over the mass media. The process lent
legitimacy, importance and credibility to the message. In turn, communication
became a motivating force not to be underestimated.
One of the most valuable lessons in China's family planning communication is
its emphasis on interpersonal communication, which was under-valued elsewhere,
particularly in Egypt. The Chinese proved that face-to-face communication
can be enormously powerful and uniquely persuasive. Because interpersonal
communication is two-way, it provides immediate feedback and response. In
fact, interpersonal communication epitomizes the communication ideals of
participation and interaction.
The Chinese approach, emphasizing local self-development and the supportive
role of the mass media, provides a different perspective for the two-step-flow
communication theory as well. While mass media tend to play the first-step role
of communication, the local cadres assume responsibility for bringing about the
two-step flow of information. In helping to disseminate government policies,
the local cadres are not only responsible for taking notes on broadcasts and
distributing them to the local people, or for organizing the people to listen to
broadcasts themselves, but most importantly, for discussing these government
policies and their related issues with people. The official mass communication
channels are important in publicizing official demands, but it is the unofficial
personal contacts that are more useful in helping people change attitudes and
Of course, interpersonal communication is particularly feasible in this case
because family planning involves primarily individual behavior and decisions
made in private. Interaction ensures that health care providers can offer
individual counseling and family planning methods. Peers from the community are
familiar, credible and trusted. Peer motivators can eventually reach diverse
audiences, as Piotrow et al. further stated. Peer discussion about family
planning and contraception helps overcome the taboo on family planning and
encourages couples to make open and joint decisions about family planning. The
Chinese case shows that group meeting and networking activities are an important
way to reach the hard-to-reach and the reluctant in rural areas.
However, there are side effects in interpersonal communication or peer
pressure: the extreme result being coercion. Although the official Chinese
position has always been against coercion, it's, however, an integral element
throughout the whole campaign. Without doubt, peer pressure is where the
line blurs between persuasion and coercion. If "coercion" involves the exertion
of physical and psychological force, certainly we see manifestations of some of
the former and lots of the latter in the Chinese case. If everyone else is
responding to the Party's call, if the benign grandma from the street committee
keeps knocking at one's door, if one's organization is disqualified from
becoming an "advanced unit" because of a black sheep in the family planning
performance, the eventual result is that one is being "persuaded."
To turn to the specific subject of campaigns, China certainly can tell us a
lot. There have been about a hundred mass campaigns since the founding of new
China, mostly politically oriented. Some resulted in catastrophes such as the
Cultural Revolutions, some with impressive accomplishments such as the campaign
against schistosomiasis in 1956.
The first thing about a campaign is that the Chinese take it very seriously and
literally. Mao was by trade a military strategist. When he waged a war, he made
the decision and he would exhaust everything at his disposal to win the war. In
communication and social marketing terms, this means that under such a
leadership, one of the most basic "enabling conditions" is ensured: political
will. When Hornik is talking about communication concerns, the first barrier he
singles out is limited political motivation. In the Chinese case, political
determination has never been a problem. China is a one-party totalitarian state,
once a decision is made to initiate a public campaign. the party will "go for
it." Every facet of the society is then mobilized and activated in a sweeping
manner. The outcome can be surprising.
Hornik and social marketing advocates are concerned about "good context" or
"enabling conditions" for effective communication. The Chinese case seems to be
devoid of these "necessary conditions." The one child policy is against popular
will. Favorable conditions for attitude and behavior change are few and
far-between in a Confucian society. The only thing prevalent is a commitment to
change. This certainly make us think twice about necessary and sufficient
enabling conditions . Are pundits sometimes too prudent?
Similarly, Rogers posits that campaign appeals that are socially distant from
the audience members are not effective and the use of patriotic appeals in the
promotion of overt behavior change rarely works. This certainly is true in
most democracies, but not in totalitarian states. The point is if such appeals
do run parallel to other salient concerns of the individual such as the
quality of life of a large family, patriotic appeal is still a means to an end.
In fact, such appeals are still widely used in non-democracies and democracies.
Rogers limited his discussion of a campaign to a time frame of two to three
months. It's a recommendation based on time and energy concerns instead of
theoretical implications. Because campaigns involve a whole set of activities as
well as cooperation and coordination across administrative and social
institutions, they will certainly divert a lot of efforts from the daily
operation. But if institutionalized change of behavior is to be expected,
serious doubt can be raised about the effect of a short deluge of communication
activities. In the case of a family planning campaign, it does seem that
continuous campaign effort is necessary to help sustain attitudinal change.
China's family planning work has been organized around a totalitarian
administrative network. While it may have a powerful mobilizing effect, there
are serious drawbacks. Any link that fails to work, for example, will affect
the outcome. Negative attitudes toward the campaign by party cadres at
grassroots level will seriously damage the process. Furthermore, as China is
embarking on the road to economic development, a transformation of government
organizations and functions is under way. The number of government departments
and their staff is due to be reduced. At the same time, more people are involved
in commercial activities. Chinese people are much more mobile than ever before.
This greatly reduces the government's ability to monitor population programs.
This explains a shift of strategies in the 1990's.
Personally, I think the establishment of a social insurance system should be on
top of all family planning priorities. With the promise of social insurance
against old age, people become less desperate about "children insurance" against
the remainder years in one's life. This, of course, deserves another discussion
 , Fraser, Stewart, E.(1987). China: Population Education and People,
Australia: Canberra Publishing and Printing Co. p. xi.
 , Chen, Muhua. (1981). "For the Realization of the Four Modernization,
There Must be Planned Control of Population Growth." Population and Development
Review, Beijing. pp. 723-724.
 China's Family Planning, State Council press release, People's Daily,
August 15, 1995.
 , Background Notes China, Washington D. C. United States' Department of
State , Dec. 5th, 1995.
 , Kim, Y. Rising Birth Rates in China Point to a Population Crisis.
Oxford: Oxford Analytica, 1991, p. 2.
 Zhou, Zhiping, Population Explosion in China, Guangzhou: Jinan
University Press, 1996.
 , Population and Development Newsletter. February, 1986, Vol. 3. p. 12.
 , Ibid.
 China's Family Planning (1995), Ibid. p. 16.
 , Goonesekera, Anura. "Population Communication in the People's
Republic of China." Media Asia, 1980, p. 105.
 , Chen, Kuan-I, "China's Population Policy," Current History,
September, 1982, p. 252.
 , Ibid.
 , Li, Shiyi, "Development Trends in Chinese Population Growth,"
Beijing Review, January 11, 1982, pp. 22-25.
 , Piotrow, Phyllis T.; Treiman, Katherine A.; Rimon II, Jose G.; Yun,
Sung Hee; and Lozare, Benjamin V., Strategies for Family Planning Promotion,
World Bank Technical paper Number 223, The World Bank, Washington, D. C. 1994.
 Lao, She, Four Generations Under One Roof, Hongkong: Joint
 , Population Situation and Policy. Beijing: Publicity and Education
Development of State Family Planning Commission of China, 1987, p. 23.
 , Nan, Zhongji. "On Population Aging in China," Population Newsletter,
Beijing. Vol 3, August, 1986, p. 7.
 , Hua, Guo-feng. "Report on the Government Work," People's Daily,
June, 30th, 1979.
 , Kincaid, D. Lawrence, ed., Communication Theory: Eastern and Western
Perspectives, 1987, pp.23- 69.
 , Chu, Leonard L. "Mass Communication Theory: The Chinese
Perspective," Media Asia, 13:1 (1986), pp. 14-19.
 Chu, Leonard L. "Information, Education and Communication (IEC) in
Planned Birth Campaigns." Planned Birth Campaign in China. Honolulu: East-West
Center Press, 1987, p. 54.
 Zhang, Fang and Shuzheng Li, "How to Conduct Family Planning Work
Under New Situations" Beijing: Population and Family Planning, Vol. 1. 1994
 Aird, John, S., "Human Rights and U. S. Reactions to the Chinese
Family Planning Program," Coercive Population Control in China, Hearings Before
the Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights of the Committee
on International Relations House of Representatives, 20-973, Washington: U. S.
Government Printing Office, 1995. p. 92.
 , Bishop, Robert L. Mobilizing One Billion Chinese: The Chinese
Communication System. Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University Press, 1989, pp.
 , A brief Introduction to China's Population Situation and Policy.
Beijing: State Family Planning Commission of PRC, 1989, p. 23.
 , Pen, Wenlan. " Chinese TV: Medium of the Masses." TV World-Sichuan
TV Festival Supplement, September, 24-29, 1991, p. 14.
 , "Purveying Ideas of Virtue." TV World, Sichuan, September 24-29,
1991, p. 10.
 , Bishop, Robert L. op.cit. p.115.
 , Ibid.
 , Ibid. p. 108.
 , Srinivas, R. Melkote. Communication for Development in the Third
World: Theory and Practice. New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1991. p. 211.
 , Schramm, Wilbur. Mass Media and National Development. California:
Stanford University Press, 1964.
 Chu, Godwin C. Radical Change Through Communication in Mao's China.
Honolulu: An East-West Center Book, 1977. p. 4.
 , Ibid.
 , Goonesekera, Anura. "Population Communication in the People's
Republic of China," Media Asia, 1980, p. 106.
 , "Birth Planning Propaganda, Incentives and Peer Pressure,"
Population and Family Planning in the People's Republic of China, 1981.
 , "Birth Planning Propaganda, Incentives and Peer Pressure."
Population and Development Newsletter, 1986. February, Vol 3, p. 13.
 , "Family Planning Problems," People's Daily, October 23, 1986. p. 6.
 , Mosher, Steven W. "Human Rights in New China," Society, Jan-Feb,
1986, p. 32.
 , Ibid.
 , Aird, John. S. Slaughter of The Innocents--Coercive Birth Control In
China. Washington D.C.: The AEI Press, 1990. p. 29.
 , Ibid.
 , Morain, Mary. "China's Side," The Humanist, Sept.-Oct. 1986. p. 29.
 , "Grip on the Population Problem Should be Tightened," Population
Clipboard, Vol. 31, p. 6.
 , Burton, Sandra, "Condolences, it's a girl: China's
One-Child-Per-Couple Policy has inflamed the Ancient Preference for Sons," Time,
Fall, 1990, p. 36.
 Aird, (1995).op.cit.
 Jiang, Zhemin, Speech to Family Planning Workers." People's Daily,
11th, March, 1996.
 Namely, The People's Daily, The Liberation Army Daily, The Guangming
Daily and The Red Flag.
 Chinese Newspaper Monthly, Vol. 2. 1993, Beijing.
 Mass Media Investment Environment in the Mainland. Mainland Research
Commission, Taiwan, 1995.
 Lin, Yingya, "Changes in Shanghai's Family Planning Communication
Work and Their Significance," Population and Family Planning, vol. 1. 1994,
 Yang, Queifu, "Take Rural Family Planning Work to the Road of 'Three
Combinations,' Population and Family Planning, Beijing, Vol. 1. 1995. P.11.
 "China's Family Planning," State Council Press Release, People's
Daily, August 15. 1995.
 Yang (1995), op.cit.
 Shi, Xueming, " Widening Education Channels, Deepening 'Three
Combination' Work." Population and Family Planning, vol. 3. 1995. p. 41.
 China's Family Planning, op.cit. p. 22.
 Wang, Min; Xianqin Lee and Boyi Wu, "Depending on the Community for
Family Education," Population and Family Planning, Beijing. Vol. 1. 1996. p.
 Xu, Yaping, "Propaganda Model Shifts in Family Planning," Population
and Family Planning, Beijing. Vol. 5. 1993. pp. 54-57.
 See Women of China, Beijing.
 CCTV stands for China Central Television Station. See CCTV Weekly.
 Kincaid, D. L et al., "The Power of Mass Media Rediscovered: The
Family Planning Communication Campaign of Turkey." Presented to the
international Communication Association, Miami, May 1992.
 Zhao, Yufeng, "Emphasize Image Promotion, Widen Communication
Channels," Population and Family Planning, Beijing. Vol. 5, 1993.
 Pulumbaum, Judy, " China's News Media," Journalism and Mass
Communication Research, Beijing, No. 1. 1996. pp. 36-53.
 Li, Baoyi, Liu Lu and Yang Shufeng, "More Social Communication
Channels," Population and Family Planning, Beijing, Vol. 1. 1996. p. 55.
 Shi, Xuemin (1994), op.cit. p. 48.
 China's Family Planning, op.cit.
 Jiang, Yimen and Di Xi, "China's Face-to-Face Communication and
Consultation Training, An Introduction to the P35 Project," Population and
Family Planning, Beijing. Vol. 1. 1995. pp. 46-48.
 Wang Kuei, "Eight Words for Family Planning Workers," Population and
Family Planning, Beijing. Vol. 5. 1995. p. 51.
 Shi Xuemin, op.cit.
 , Peng, Xizhe. Recent Trends in China and Their Implications, London
School of Economics: The Development Economics Research Program, June, 1994.
 Zhou. Z, (1996). op.cit.
 , Poston, Dudley L. Jr. Epilogue: China in 1990, The Population of
Modern China, New York and London:Plenum Press, 1992. pp. 699-700.
 , Ibid.
 Peng. op.cit. p.2.
 ,Poston, Ibid.
 , Grip on the Population Problem Should be Tightened." Population
Clipboard, Vol. 31, p. 6.
 Want et. al. (1996). op.cit.
 , Schramm, Wilbur; Chu, Godwin C.; Yu, Frederick: China's Experience
With Development Communication: How Transferrable Is It?" Conference/ Workshop
on Non-Formal Education and the Rural Poor, Kellogg Center, Michigan State
University, September 26 - October 3, 1976.
 , Ibid.
 Ibid. p. 2.
 Hornik, Robert C. "Communication as Complement to Development," in
Mass Communications: Development Within National Contexts, New York: Longman.
 , Ibid. p.332-333.
 , Burke, Richard C (1991). Communicating Family Planning and
Population Information in Egypt: Whose Problem? Whose Solution?" in
International Third World Studies Journal and Review, Vol. 2 No. 1. p. 189.
 , Piotrow, Phyllis T. et al. op.cit. p. 10.
 , Rogers, E. M. 1973. Communication Strategies for Family Planning.
New York: Free Press.
 , Lin, Nie-sheng. Mass Media and National Development in China. Ann
Arbor, Michigan: Xerox University Microfilm, 1978, p. 198.
 Riano, Pilar, editor. Women in Grassroots Communication: Furthering
Social Change. Thousand Oaks, California: 1994.
 , Piotrow, et al. op.cit. p. 10.
 , Aird, op.cit. p. 88.
 ,Liu, Alan P. "Mass Campaigns in the People's Republic of China," in
Schramm, Wilbur (1964). Mass Media and National Development. California:
Stanford University Press.
 , Hornik, op.cit. p. 79.
 , Rogers, Everett M; Storey, J. Douglas. "Communication Campaign,"
Context, class handout. pp. 838- 839.
 , Ibid.
 , Ibid. pp. 820-821.