2014 in Review: Trends in Media and Communication in Asia

by Mike Bassett on March 27, 2015

The Rendon Group’s Media Analysis Team works 24/7/365 to provide clients with global real-time news and information coverage. As our analysts follow the global information environment, they have noticed numerous emerging trends in media and communication throughout 2014. Our 2014 in Review series highlights fifteen (15) specific examples of how media and communications played a decisive role in some of 2014’s most talked about geopolitical issues and events. These examples, divided by region, will be posted on the Rendon Group’s website on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays over the next two weeks. Links to previously posted sections can be found at the bottom of each blog post.


The Silent Propaganda War Against “New Media” in China

The Chinese government has long censored media and  foreign social media, recent moves that further fortified the Ministry of Information’s Great Firewall. The ruling party, which views the Internet as a threat to its authority because citizens with large followers can influence debates in one direction or another, took significant steps to ensure restrictions to Internet usage. Widely under-reported was the fact that in 2014 a newly created propaganda army designed to conduct “ideological purification campaigns,” known as “flesh searches,” went on the offensive to prevent political narratives from swaying against the Party.

Political Overtures and the Struggle for Democracy on the Korean Peninsula

North Korea fired machine gun rounds at balloons containing leaflets, calling the launches an “act of war.” High-level inter-Korean talks were thwarted as North Korea blamed the South Korean government for supporting activists who agitated the conflict. As the activists continued to increase tensions – in North Korea’s view – North Korea threatened to fire long range missiles into the South if launches occurred again. The activists made a media spectacle of its next launch despite risks to South Korean national security. The South Korean government temporarily barred balloon launches, but activists continued launches despite risk of full-scale war. Rather than cracking down on the activists who threatened political rapprochement, the South Korean government sent a strong signal to the North that they would not submit to their demands by dismantling a leftist political party who’s supporters opposed the launches. The political overtures resulted in a noticeable decline in democracy in South Korea and increased tensions on the peninsula.

Activists release balloons carrying anti-North Korea leaflets in Paju, South Korea.

Thai Political Values and the Media Blackout

A Thai coup and junta was widely reported by Western media, despite the King remaining in power and endorsing an interim government and its provisional constitution.  Interim PM Chan-ocha stated the actions of the military were not a coup. Western reporting utilized a different storyline as it has tried to conceptualize the Thai political scene for some time.  Some Thai reporting pointed to ‘western media broadcasts intentionally propagating misrepresentations of the conflict in attempts to further American geopolitical interests in the region.’ After the King instilled the interim government, the country’s military blacked-out foreign media, replacing it with “relaxing music.Interim PM Chan-ocha reported the take-over “necessary in order for the country to return to normality, and for society to love and be at peace again.” Thai media outlets reported increased pressure and scrutiny broadcasting national issues, but little backlash publishing in print. One Thai anthropologist stated the media crackdown was “just something they had to do, but is unlikely to be permanent.”

Please review our previous entries of the 2014 Year in Review: Global, 2014 in Review: Latin America, and 2014 in Review: North America.

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