Business Insider’s Reporting on China
On 13th Aug, 2013 I clicked on articles with China as a tag, http://www.businessinsider.com/category/china
This is what appeared as it was (no selection was done by me):
Rare Video Appears To Show A Public Execution In China
How The Emerging Markets Will Unravel As China Unwinds Its Debt
The Sex Lives Of Top Chinese Officials
How China’s Tax Structure Crushes The Poor
STUDY: There’s A Huge, $1 Trillion Hole In Chinese GDP
Expert: Dalai Lama’s Website Has Been Hacked And It’s Infecting People’s Computers
An Eccentric Chinese Professor Spent Years Building This Bizarre Mountaintop Villa Above A Beijing High-Rise
China Freaked Out Over Japan’s New Flat-Topped ‘Destroyer’
A Big Chinese ‘Bad Bank’ Plans To Go Public And It Has Experts Scratching Their Heads
India’s New Carrier Joins The Big Asian Arms Race
Mother Of British Businessman Whose Murder Rocked China’s Ruling Class Is Demanding Blood Money
China’s New ‘Unrestricted Takeoff’ Policy Creates More Problems Than It Solves
Police Bust Up A Human Trafficking Ring Smuggling Chinese Migrants For Up To $66,000 Per Person
10 Things That Could Go Horribly Wrong In China
China’s Silly New Policy Shows It Can’t Handle Its Booming Aviation Market
It’s So Hot In Shanghai That People Are Camping Out In Air Conditioned Subway Stations
So basically these are the articles you can get on China. China is currently the 2nd largest economy, it is understandable it gets a lot of necessary and unnecessary attention. But how useful are these stories to any potential investors or readers? By reading those stories, one would be convinced that China is a “bad place” not just for business but for living. It would simply collapse any time now. There might be a positive article here and there. If you search the articles all the way back through the years these negative titles seem to be the common theme. Pretty much all of them painted a very bleak picture of socio-economic condition of China as a country or economy. The question I have is, if these articles represent the true representative state of China’s development, shouldn’t China crashed a long time ago as predicted by Gordon Chang (who doesn’t know the Chinese language and have been to China maybe a couple of time). Gordon Chang is still considered as a China economy expert at Forbes magazine. Do authors of these articles share the same China research qualification, or as events had shown lack of qualification? Let’s face it, would you take investment advice on the US economy from someone who cannot speak English and who have never been to the country?
In predicting economic development, if an analyst predicted a stock, commodities or economy to go down, he would be forgiven if his prediction is off by a few months. However he would be seriously discredited if the opposite result happened, repeatedly. Nevertheless, in the “China is Crashing Crowd”, it is alright if the prediction is way off by one year, five year or even a decade. And to paraphrase one of my favorite movie line “Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but surely one day”.
Frankly, I don’t know how all these half truth, one quarter or one hundredth truth served its readers. Do they give a representative picture of the real China? Obviously, serious investors did not use it as a guide as China’s FDI increase tenfold from 2000 to around $120 billion in 2012. Maybe we can forgive Business Insider as it is more an amateur site like Huffington Post. However, the same trend of misreporting on China is also common on more professional site like WSJ, Forbes, The Economist, Financial Times, Business Week. What gives?
The biggest mistake any investor can make is make investment based on assumption rather than research on the ground. That’s why we see such a distortion in the English language “business” news compare to what has happened to China’s economy. Sad to say the situation has not improved but rather regressed from outright dishonest reporting to the new trend that questioned the growth of China’s economy by saying that the figure published by the government is fraudulent. Basically, they argued that China, not just the economy but social stability is actually failing but covered up by the Chinese government. This would make things easier on bashing China since facts and figures are no longer needed to substantiate any argument.
A good example is the reporting by CBS on the ghost city Zhengzhou, where two very contrasting reports have surfaced on the internet. I highly recommend this article by Wade Shepard, titled A Journey To China’s Largest Ghost City. His website is very down to earth and represent what he sees in China, both positive and negative. Unfortunately, judging by the number of comments and hits on his video, it is obvious it is hard to attract attention if one does not use sensationalist title or report on outrageous incident. He is considered bucking the trend of not writing negatively on China and was accused by some as a paid by the government to write. His articles simply that showed China is just a country like, and unlike any other with its own peculiarity but above all similarity which make humanity so diverse.