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This article contains a case analysis of the Biannual International Mandarin Intervarsity Debating Competition jointly staged by China Central Television as a new genre of what I regard as enhanced propaganda. The analysis has been informed by a brief examination of the history of the genre, which invites attention to its importance as a symbol of both China's cultural superiority and its progress towards democracy and freedom of speech. However, the analysis has found that, under the disguise of its symbolism, the genre is subjected to very strict controls. The case analysis categorized four heuristic types of control, which I call content control, procedural control, semiotic control and interpretative control. The findings of the analysis, to be discussed in this article, will show how the various types of control are intended to eliminate alternative messages in what is seemingly an improvised show. This, I hope, will contribute to a challenge of the popular perception that Chinese television has been liberalized.