BEIJING, NOV. 24 -- The Chinese government is trying to project a more moderate image to the outside world at the same time it is sending an increasingly hard-line political message to its domestic audience, according to Chinese and Western analysts.

In recent weeks, authorities have launched a strident new attack on pornography, equating it with a struggle between socialism and capitalism; urged all citizens to build up "socialist spiritual civilization," and called on Chinese citizens to re-adopt the revolutionary greeting "comrade" after years of widespread usage of more neutral salutations.

Authorities also seem intent on stirring nationalist sentiment in an attempt to keep out Western political and cultural influences, which officials blame for fueling last year's democracy movement. Even as Beijing has aligned itself with the U.S.-led alliance against Iraq in part to improve its international standing, official press articles and exhibits here have attacked alleged wrongs committed by foreign countries against China.

The ideological tightening is part of a return to political orthodoxy following last year's army assault on demonstrators and the rise of political hard-liners in the leadership. But some analysts said government rhetoric has recently become harsher. "It's tougher than it was three or four months ago," said a European diplomat.

It is not clear what prompted the new ideological clampdown, but some analysts speculate that China's hard-liners, who control the powerful propaganda apparatus, see ideology as the only area where they can still hold sway over the population.

In the economic arena, these analysts say, even China's more conservative leaders know that Beijing can no longer dictate policy to the restive provinces, which won a large measure of independence during the last decade of economic reforms and refuse to surrender it.

"They {the conservatives} have found, for whatever practical reasons, that they can't turn back the clock on the economic reform," a Western diplomat said. "The more that happens, the more they feel the need to shore up the ideological defenses."

Now, the official press is portraying the building of socialist values as just as important as economic development after more than a decade in which the government had stressed economic reform as the main national focus.

The practical effect of tougher official rhetoric on the Chinese people is difficult to measure, Chinese and Western analysts say. Few Chinese believe what they read in the official press, "but they need to know what the current line is," said a Chinese intellectual. "When the tone becomes more unyielding, they see it as signs to be more careful about talking about politics."

The leadership has been attempting to reinforce socialist values to a disillusioned population ever since Communist regimes in Eastern Europe collapsed last year, out of fear that the spirit of political liberalization might reignite the Chinese democracy movement.

In a front-page editorial Friday urging cadres to study socialist theories, the official People's Daily newspaper noted that "some socialist countries have undergone important changes," and warned that the international communist movement is now facing "unprecedented challenge." But, it added, as long as party cadres "are sober-minded and stand firm, no force will be able to shake China."

In a renewed broadside against pornography, the People's Daily said the fight against it was "by no means a question of banning a few harmful books and magnetic tapes." The spread of pornography, the newspaper said in a front-page editorial three weeks ago, was the result of a capitalist plot to subvert China's socialist system.

The press also has been urging citizens to build up "spiritual civilization," emphasizing values such as patriotism and "selfless devotion" to the Communist Party. Too much energy has been devoted in recent years to "putting money above everything else," said another People's Daily editorial earlier this month. As a result, people have "seriously ignored ideological and political work."

Many Chinese were startled on Nov. 16, when the state-run television opened its evening news broadcasts with the term "comrades," rather than the regularly used salutation, "viewers."

Although Chinese referred to virtually everyone as "comrade" for decades after the Communist victory in 1949, the term has been replaced in recent years by more traditional, non-political terms, such as "miss" and "mister."

The change in the television greeting took place after a People's Daily letter praised "comrade" as a term that "symbolizes the victory of the revolution attained by the blood of revolutionary martyrs."

This past week, the newspaper singled out the term "miss" for criticism, saying it originally referred to women of lower social status and did not imply respect for women. "We should not discard a term {comrade} that has proved to be full of vitality and replace it with 'miss,' a term that has other connotations," the newspapers said.