Image of Photograph of Professor Hugo de Burgh

China through media

The China Centre lecture on Thursday 3 March 2022 was delivered by Professor Hugo de Burgh, Director of the China Media Centre, London, and Walt Disney Chair in Global Media and Communications, Schwarzman College, Tsinghua University.

Professor Hugo de Burgh’s lecture presented an overview of the Chinese media. He began by noting that there over 900 million internet users in China and over three-fifths of TV viewing is watched on-line: ‘China has seized the internet with enthusiasm. It is a realm of debate, complaint and gossip’.

Professor de Burgh grouped his analysis under three categories: social media, legacy media and screen media. He used video clips from a wide array of TV broadcasts to illustrate the dynamic nature of Chinese media activity, including ‘fly-on-the wall documentaries’, environmental programmes, investigative journalism in local TV stations, and youth chat shows. He played video clips from a wide array of films about topics that included historical dramas, relationship dramas, science fiction, emigration, fighting covid, and escaping from poverty. He presented excerpts from documentary broadcasts on topics including the pandemic in Wuhan, the daily life of government officials, and family life.

The Q&A session included discussion of the following issues: the reliability of TV broadcasts about the pandemic in Wuhan; government policy towards ‘effeminate fan culture’; the reception of Chinese film dramas among Western audiences; Chinese news reporting of the Russian invasion of Ukraine; the extent and nature of broadcasting censorship; the role of investigative journalism in China and the West; training of Chinese media officials in the West; the nature and extent of the ‘dark web’ in China.

Hugo de Burgh is Walt Disney Professor of Media and Communications at Schwarzman College, Tsinghua University. He is also Founder Chairman of Kensington Wade Dual Language Chinese English School and Director of the China Media Centre which he set up in London in 2005.

He started professional life in Scotland, where he established Castlecliff Workshops, a further education college. His campaigning journalism, focussing on poverty, undereducation and employability, lead to full-time journalism and then TV. He worked for Scottish Television (politics and investigations), BBC (business and documentaries) and (the UK’s) Channel4 (C4 Dispatches, C4 News and Documentaries). In 1995 he returned to higher education.

He has held academic posts at Edinburgh, London, Nottingham Trent and Westminster universities.

Among his many publications are the 3rd edition of Investigative Journalism (Routledge 2021); the 2nd edition of China’s Media in the Emerging World Order (UBP 2020); China’s Environment and Chinese Environment Journalists (Intellect 2013); China and Britain: the potential impact of China’s development (Smith Institute 2007) and (with Boris Johnson, Alison Wolf et al) Can the Prizes Still Glitter? The Future of British Universities in a Changing World (UBP 2007).