Wall Street Journal has more details on the backlash, reporting:
Weeks before the Olympics put Beijing and the Games’ corporate backers on the world stage, an advertising heavyweight has stumbled over the divide between how some view China and how the nation views itself…. Word of the human-rights campaign is now spreading through China, and TBWA and Amnesty International are disavowing the ads.
Chinese bloggers, spurred by a report in state-run media of the Amnesty campaign last week, are now calling for a boycott of all TBWA ads, among other measures.
And many in China are indeed very angry. But there are other voices as well; below is a translated internet post from Xinmin Net: (原文):
— translation begins —
I’m pretty uninformed, I really have never heard of this organization “Amnesty International”, just as I’ve never heard of the organization “Reporters Without Borders”. If the advertisements commissioned by the former hadn’t won an award, and if the latter hadn’t caused trouble during the Olympic Torch relay, and if both of these weren’t reported in the domestic media… perhaps we might have heard of these “famous” and “creative” international organizations. Unfortunately, they aren’t very friendly towards China.
Should we be filled with outrage? I don’t think so.
First of all, relations between different countries and peoples isn’t so different from relations between individual people. Let me make an example: two people with similar backgrounds and personalities can often get along very well; if they have different backgrounds, it might be like mixing fire with water. Two people might be enemies at first sight. Countries are often just like this, except perhaps even more complicated. With ideologies, they might be shared or they might be divisive; with economic interests, they could be shared or they could be conflicting. There might be forgiveness borne of mutual understanding, and there might be bias borne of a lack of communication. There might be intentional dislike, or unintentional misunderstanding. In a big enough forest, all kinds of birds can exist; how can everyone be our friends?
A single united world is a tremendous dream, but expecting the world to be just like us, that can only be an excessive fantasy. That’s how it’s always been — the world is huge, all sorts of strangeness can exist. We have to live in reality, and not fantasy.
Second of all, we should be thankful for the gradual opening of speech in China. It can’t be denied that for a long time, the environment for speech in China has been a sealed space. Information has been disinfected, sanitized, filtered, and then selectively presented. As a result, the people have had poor immunity; we’re too sensitive. It’s as if anyone in any corner of this planet said anything bad about China, our faces would turn red, and we’d try to drown them with our spit, so ferocious that we want to feast on their flesh and wear their skin.
Speaking impulsively before we are completely clear on the reason for something is both not wise, and will also deepen bias. For example, questions like whether “Amnesty International” and “Reporters without Frontiers” are really only targeting China, whether they’re being used, whether we have the opportunity to engage in a dialogue with them directly to improve relations…. questions like why German’s famous “Mirror” magazine has recently been issuing articles not based on direct research that hurt China’s image, and whether this has anything to do with the German government’s policies towards China, and how China should respond and adjust its foreign policy in turn…. questions like why some Korean netizens were filled with such poisonous curses after the Sichuan earthquake when we were such fans of Korean culture, and what attitude do Koreans really have towards Chinese… why do so many foreigners really believe Chinese still wear robes and have queues, how do we let more foreigners gain a better understanding of modern China… when some of our compatriots leave the country and behavior inappropriately, are these details responsible for creating or strengthening the negative impressions held by some foreigners towards China… these are things that should be deeply considered before we act.
Both vacuums and pure oxygen environments don’t support life. Now that we’ve opened the window, flies, mosquitoes, and bacteria can all enter. For the undesirable insects, we can exterminate them; if they keep coming, we’ll keep exterminating them. Once we’ve gotten some fresh air, our immune system will improve, and our view of the world will have been broadened. We will be able to prescribe the right medication for the right bacteria; the methods we use to react will become a better match.