The night view of the Beijing-based China Central Television Building Photo: VCG
China Central Television (CCTV) Channel 7 is to refocus its coverage solely on military affairs in a move to expand national defense publicity and education. Currently, the channel specializes in both military and agricultural reporting.
From August 1, the CCTV-7 Military and Agricultural Channel will become the CCTV-7 National Defense and Military Channel.
An insider at CCTV told the Global Times that the Chinese national broadcaster is setting up an agricultural and rural channel.
Agricultural and rural news will be moved to a new channel, reportedly CCTV-17, multiple media sources quoted sources as confirming.
Having a specialized national military TV channel featuring national defense and military is necessary, Chinese experts said.
There are now fewer high-quality military programs and their ratings have declined in recent years compared with entertainment programs, Zhang Zhaozhong, a military commentator active in many military programs, said in an interview with news portal mil.ifeng.com.
Zhang said that it is necessary to produce a large number of high-level programs to attract younger audiences. "If young people no longer care about current affairs, politics and national defense and military affairs, who will defend China in the future?" he was quoted as saying.
At this year's two sessions, China's top legislative and political consultative meetings, building a strong national defense and strengthening education was a major concern of military representatives. They called for an active defense education for all citizens, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Daily reported.
Representatives of the armed forces put forward many suggestions, including national defense education in the school teaching plan and standardizing juvenile military academies in order to improve the reserves system for military service.
"Education in national defense and patriotism is the responsibility of all Chinese. All media must support national defense education and patriotic education without hesitation," Zhang said. Zhang is known for his contentious comments that often go viral when he appears on TV.
'Farming and War'
CCTV-7 has been home to military and agricultural programs since 1995, and is jokingly referred to as the "Farming and War Channel" by Chinese netizens. It even spawned a joke which claims that a foreign spy who watches CCTV-7 will eventually become a pig farmer.
Why were farming and military themes put onto the same channel? Chinese netizens have their own understanding.
Since ancient times, national defense and agriculture have been the two major bases of China's development and construction. Some surmise that it is because the PLA won battles in the past with a force made up of a lot of farmers, an approach known as "millet and rifle." Thus, it made sense to group the two themes together on one channel as the continuation of a tradition.
In addition, soldiers in some areas in China's history, such as the Production and Construction Corps in Xinjiang, undertook the dual task of guarding border areas and reclaiming wasteland for agricultural use.
CCTV has set up correspondent stations in the military commands in Tibet and Xinjiang autonomous regions, and in the PLA Navy and Air Force divisions.
Since 2018, the PLA army, navy, air force, rocket force and other military services have held open day activities for the public, especially young people, in order to enhance publicity and education about national defense.
Many local governments attach great importance to strengthening the health of young people and have added content in primary and secondary school textbooks that can show the fighting spirit of the PLA.
According to the Xinhua News Agency, an extensive project in the field of national defense education, with the aim of constructing 10 national defense education theme parks and squares, 100 themed streets and 1,000 themed bus stops is underway, which intends to integrate national defense elements into people's lives and youth education.