China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
This paper discusses the role of bureaucratic intelligence gathering activities intended to inform the CCP leadership about domestic and international thought trends and developments. Given that official news media primarily fulfilled a prescriptive role, information regarding domestic or international perceptions of party policies was relayed through a variety of restricted bulletins and “mood reports”. Some of these stand out due to their impact and breadth of coverage. Besides Neibu Cankao and Cankao Ziliao, which were compiled by Xinhua News Agency and covered domestic reports and foreign press items, the Central Propaganda Department between 1954 and 1966 edited a highly influential internal bulletin termed Xuanjiao Dongtai. The aim of this publication was to provide reference information on recent trends and opinions in the realms of propaganda and education. Especially in the late 1950s, Mao Zedong would frequently react to news items from Xuanjiao Dongtai, forwarding them to his colleagues for discussion or commenting on specific viewpoints. This paper will explore the function of Xuanjiao Dongtai in inner-party information flows by looking at what was deemed politically relevant intelligence and how criteria changed over time. It argues that internal bulletins are important not only for obtaining views on selected aspects of public opinion in the early PRC but also for understanding what kind of information was available to and deemed important by the party leadership, as well as for analyzing its impact on actual decision-making processes.