Major Chinese Newspapers

– Emily Frost, Yang Lu, Meng Tian –

Mainland China has more than two thousand newspapers, which belong to over 1,200 news organizations. Their coverage ranges from politics, economics, business, education to sports, entertainment, etc. Readers of the major newspapers are mainly urbanites. Western countries may believe that Chinese newspapers are highly controlled, eulogistic, propagandist, and “red”; although some newspapers are still under stringent censorship by the government, some of them, such as Southern Weekly and China Youth Daily, have striven to catch up with Western standards. They see themselves as timely “watchdogs,” especially within the increasing competition in the newspaper industry.  They try to push the boundaries, but they get adjusted each time there’s a case big enough to attract the central government’s attention. In addition, since the People’s Daily established its official website in January, 1997, most major newspapers have created interactive online channels. Many of them have started to utilize social media, and are opening micro-blog accounts.


People’s Daily(《人民日报》)

Quick Facts

  • 3 million daily circulation for print version
  • state-run, major newspaper in China
  • headquarters in Beijing
  • “newspaper is read over loudspeakers, broadcast on trains and radio station, and placed in glass cases for people on the streets to read” –
  • broadsheet format
  • est. 1948, online edition est. 1997
  • online edition published in Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Tibetan, Korean, Mongolian, English, Japanese, French, Spanish, Russian and Arabic,
  • Zhang Yannong is the president of People’s Daily
  • 10 subsidiary newspapers: People’s Daily Overseas Edition, East China News, South China News, Market Daily, International Financial Daily, Jiangnan Times, Global Times, Securities Times, Health Times, Satire and Humor

The Communist Party uses the paper to announce its official positions.

Within the next five years, China will overhaul its state-run media, including People’s Daily to build its online presence globally and to use new media to introduce Chinese culture abroad.

The online edition is worth $120 million reports The New York Times. The paper will have an initial public offering this year and will sell 40 million shares. The online edition made $10.6 million in 2010, according to China Daily.

During the 1989 democracy movement, many reporters expressed their support for the movement.

In the ‘90s, People’s Daily and other state-run media outlets started to publish international news and crime stories, which earlier had been prohibited.

In recent years, the paper has made attempts to publish livelier and more human-interest stories to attract more readers.

China Daily(《中国日报》)

Quick Facts

  • Largest English language paper in China, est. 1981
  • Circulation of 300,000 per issue, 400,000 if you include international circ.
  • Quoted frequently by foreign press
  • Owned by China Daily Group
  • Headquarters in Beijing
  • Online since 1995, pageviews currently 31 million daily (60% from overseas)
  • Staff of 1,000+
  • 26 branches across the country
  • Chinese, English, and French editions

China Daily’s motto is “content is king.” It is a paper that’s very proud of its international reach, which includes its China Daily Hong Kong Edition, China Daily US Edition, and China’s National Image Journal. It hopes to launch European and Asia-Pacific editions soon.

China Daily is a very international paper. It has ties with all the major Western papers and takes stories and photos from Reuters, Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Bloomberg. It tries to function like a Western news organization, though is still under the control of the PRC.

The paper hosts competitions – such as university, cartoon and photo competitions – to build its brand and extend its reach. The paper is also becoming increasingly commercial – government subsidies will be withdrawn in the future, as with other state-run media organizations.

China Youth Daily (中国青年报》)

Quick Facts

  • Daily newspaper
  • Broadsheet
  • Owned by Communist Youth League of China (CYL)
  • Founded: 1951
  • Headquarters in Beijing, China
  • Language: Chinese (simplified)
  • Circulation of 1 million in 40 countries and regions
  • Official website:

When China Youth Daily was founded, it followed the mission of its owner, the Communist Youth League of China. The League is committed to uniting and leading young people in China, hoping to recruit new members for the Communist Party of China, and enabling the CPC to project their voice to a wider public. Although China Youth Daily is run by the Communist Youth League, it was also the first profit-generating paper in China. The paper welcomes advertising from individuals, local and foreign companies.

China Youth Daily mainly targets the young generation in China and covers political, social and economic news. The paper’s primary readership is among professionals between 21 and 48 years old.

Its online version, the China Youth Online, was established in 2000 in order to maintain the relatively young readership. The paper has a circulation of nearly one million copies a day. Universities and high schools are mandated to subscribe to China Youth Daily.

Freezing Point (冰点), a four-page weekly supplement of CYL often pushes the boundaries of what’s allowed by the authorities. In 2006, the supplement was closed for nearly a month, due to an anti-censorship letter posted by columnist Li Datong. Pressure from retired high-level party officials and senior scholars forced the government to allow publication again, but without its former editor and top investigative reporter.

Beijing Times (《京华时报》)

  • Daily newspaper
  • Tabloid
  • Owned by People’s Daily Group
  • Founded in 2001
  • Headquarter in Beijing, China
  • Language: Chinese (simplified)
  • Official website:

Beijing Times is the People’s Daily Group’s entry into the commercial metropolitan daily newspaper market. The paper covers local news, education, health, automobile, tourism, etc. It has been positioned as “Beijingers’ metropolitan newspaper.” Covering over 70% share of Beijing’s morning post retail market, the Beijing Times is Beijing’s largest-selling commercial morning tabloid, an achievement supported by its commitment to hitting newsstands earlier than any other newspaper.

Among the capital city’s core readers aged between 25 and 44 who possess the strongest spending power, 85% are classified as active readers and 86% are categorized as loyalty readers of Beijing Times.

Even amidst fierce competition, the rise of new media and the economic recession, Beijing Times has seen sales growth and increased advertising revenue. The paper was slow to reform and go online. It started to reform in 2009 to enhance the interaction between the print media and new media.

Beijing Times operates a newspaper website, a mobile online newspaper as well as e-business and logistics business. The mobile newspaper delivers essential news and information anytime and anywhere, breaking the limitation of time and location of traditional media.

The Beijing News(《新京报》)

The Beijing News is a mainstream daily newspaper based in Beijing, co-founded by Guangming Daily and Southern Daily Group. Its first issue was published on November 11, 2003. It is the first Chinese newspaper co-founded by media groups from different regions in China. It is also China’s first mainstream newspaper to adopt the shareholding system.

The Beijing News’ average print edition has 88 pages, with 112 pages on Friday. It is the largest newspaper, in terms of content, in Beijing. It is distributed both through subscription and retail outlets with a daily circulation of 576, 000. In 2006, the paper reported advertising revenue of 612 million RMB.

The Beijing News has a tabloid print format, which can be divided into four sections: editorial and comments, news in Beijing, domestic news, international news and sports news; business and financial news; entertainment, arts and culture; and consumer guides and life style.

The Beijing News abides by Communist policies and has set up a company-oriented managing framework. In order to keep their independence and credibility, the newspaper separates reporting and editing departments from advertising and publishing.

Its influence, credibility, deep understanding of the press market, and unremitting reporting have expanded the brand value and managing achievements of The Beijing News. Authorities have called the paper “the media with the most investment potential,” “the media with the most development potential,” “the most pioneering media,” and “the most influential political newspaper.”

The Beijing News believes in the principle of independent and objective reporting. It also pursues an easy-reading style with simple, modern and elegant format in a thick-newspaper era. The newspaper has a pioneering emphasis on photos and illustrations. In 2006, one of its photographers was awarded Bronze medal prize in the World Press Photo (WPP) competition.

Yangcheng Evening News (《羊城晚报》)

  • Daily newspaper
  • Broadsheet
  • Owned by Yangcheng Evening News Group
  • Founded: 1957
  • Headquarters: Guangzhou, Guangdong Province
  • Language: Chinese (simplified)
  • Daily circulation: 1,170,000, mainly in the Pearl River Delta area, South China
  • Official website:

Yangcheng Evening News is the first large-scale comprehensive evening newspaper since the PRC was founded. Since its establishment, the newspaper has been aimed at daily life with vivid and unique reports. With “family” as its core value, Yangcheng Evening News set its brand concept as “the newspaper for my family,” targeting households in urban areas. It covers local news, sports, business, jobs and community events.

The paper has the largest sales in Guangzhou. Yangcheng Evening News has been selling over one million copies for 27consecutive years, and it’s listed in the “China Brand 500” for the fourth consecutive year. It is one of the world’s largest newspapers.

In 2008, its daily circulation was estimated to be 1,170,000. It is distributed mainly in the Pearl River Delta area of southern China. With burgeoning competition among newspapers in the local area, its market share has been divided by the other two press groups — Guangzhou Daily Group and the Southern Daily Group.

Yangcheng Evening News has been devoted to building its brand. It has been quite popular among urban families, with a household subscription rate of 62.8%. In order to enhance such its brand, the paper has been active in holding events, ranging from home electrical appliance festival to finance industry seminars.

According to the CNRS 2008 Report, the paper’s readership is as follows: Male 52.03%, female 47.97%; 24 or below 12.65%, 25-34 28.32%, 35-44 29.24%, 45-54 17.66%, 55 or above 12.13%.

Southern Metropolis Daily(《南方都市报》)

Quick Facts

  • tabloid; commercial paper; daily paper
  • circulation 1.4 million
  • located in Guangzhou, 3rd largest city in China
  • popular, outspoken
  • part of the Nanfang Daily Press Group, which also publishes Southern Weekend
  • prints most pages daily of any newspaper in China
  • Southern Metropolis Daily is one of the two leading newspapers in Guangzhou – the other is Guangzhou Daily
  • known for its investigative reporting

After the paper reported that a local prisoner had been killed, the editor, Cheng Yizhong, issued a bold statement: “We are responsible for the news we report, no matter what the news is and no matter what the responsibilities are we probe to get to the bottom of the news.” Six weeks later, he and 20 other reporters were questioned by officials. Yizhong and other top managers were sentenced to 8 to 12 years in jail for embezzlement, which some believe was payback for their reporting on AIDS, corruption and SARS. He served only five months and was released in 2004. Yizhong has received great recognition for his independent journalism, including the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize in 2005.

In the days before the 20th anniversary of Tiananmen Square, Southern Metropolis Daily published a cartoon commenting on the massacre – however, it was removed just two days before the official anniversary.

Southern Weekly(《南方周末》)

Southern Weekly, also referred to as Southern Weekend, is a popular, nationally distributed weekly. It is owned by the independent-minded Southern Daily Group based in Guangzhou, a booming city in Guangdong province, in southern China. First published in 1984 its circulation now exceeds 1.6 million for every release.

The New York Times described the Weekly as “China’s most influential liberal newspaper.” It is known for its envelope-pushing approach to the government’s ever-present censorship.

Southern Weekly has been a pioneer in its growing coverage of corruption, police brutality and official misdeeds. The paper has been able to push as far as it has by avoiding directly questioning Communist rule or reporting on sensitive scandals in Beijing.

In 2003, as one of the earliest marketized newspapers in China, Southern Weekly won an Effie Award — the first time for a Chinese newspaper.

In 2008, the Weekly expanded its opinion page to a full section and introduced a new section devoted to politics. Conservatives and leftists tend to see Southern Weekly as the sum of what’s wrong with liberal, western-leaning southern newspapers. Its editors cover stories that the authorities don’t want played up, harming societal harmony, while its columnists perennially push for a rapid increase in democracy, civil society, and freedom of expression, despite their possible incompatibility with Chinese-style socialism.

In 2009, President Obama agreed to an exclusive interview with Southern Weekly, because of its reputation for tackling subjects other state-run media outlets decline to examine. However, China’s propaganda bureau prevented the page with the interview from appearing in the edition delivered to Western news outlets in Beijing.

The newspaper’s tenor changes from one year to the next, as editors are forced out and restraint takes over. Propaganda officials have sought to install more loyal editors at Southern Weekly and have warned internet news portals not to pick up politically sensitive stories if the newspaper publishes them.

China Business News(《第一财经日报》)

China Business News is based in Shanghai and was the first local business and finance daily newspaper in China. The first issue was published on November 11, 2004. It is co-founded by Shanghai Media Group (SMG), Guangzhou Daily and Beijing Youth.

CBN has the biggest original financial news editorial team in mainland China, and its aim is not only helping better satisfy the demand of Chinese financial news from domestic and oversea investors, but also enhancing the soft power of Shanghai as the international financial hub.

China Business News also has the largest market share in China’s financial daily market. it publishes every Monday through Saturday with intensive coverage of China’s major economic zones and important commercial cities. It has 230 journalists covering the global market, and journalists based in a wide range of locations around the world to provide readers with comprehensive and accurate financial news coverage and in-depth analysis.

During the past few years, China Business News has successfully built up its brand name in the three major economic zones (Yangtze River Delta, Pearl River Delta & Jingjin-Tang) and has expanded its influence on China’s economic markets. It was the only business and finance paper selected as one of the  “Top 10 Special & Professional Media” for 2008-2009 by China’s Advertising Association Print Team. It was also the official business and finance paper at the Shanghai World Expo.

CBN has a broad spectrum of readers in government departments, commercial banks, securities investment and business. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, the U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Meade Huntsman, Jr. and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown have written articles for China Business News and expressed opinions to Chinese audiences. Morgan Stanley Asia Chairman Stephen Roach also writes columns for it.

About Yang Lu

Currently a grad student majoring in Public Relations at Annenberg School of University of Southern Califrornia. During 4-year undergraduate studies, Yang Lu did a double major in both English and International Journalism&Communication and a minor of Japanese in Beijing Foreign Studies University in China's Capital Beijing.
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