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(Letter) The Chinese essay BBC was dared to publish (contrasting argumentation styles)

September 15th, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

A Mr. Li sent this essay to the BBC and dared them to publish it. They did. Much thanks to EastSouthWestNorth for providing this English translation (See their post for additional translated reader comments.)

One of the reader comments on the original post says:

This is a very “Chinese” essay: it uses Chinese thinking, it uses a Chinese style and it gives a lovely Chinese response to the west! This was good, hard work! For the Chinese people, this essay is worth 90 points. For western people, this essay is worth 10 points! This is like playing music to a cow! A genuine westerner is neither willing nor able to understand nor does he have any intention of comprehending this essay!

——————–

How should the western media deal with China in the reforms?
by Mr. Li. September 2, 2008.

I graduated from university in 1990, and I was part of the generation that went through the 1989 student movement. As a person who received a complete secondary and higher education in the 1980’s after the Cultural revolution ended, I was a totally pro-western young student who was also thoroughly patriotic. I actively participated in the entire process of the student movement. translated essay or the original >

——————–

Discussion Questions
Chinese readers: I’m very curious to hear what FM’s Chinese readers think about this essay. It would help foreigners like me if some of the Chinese readers here could explain what parts of his argument/style are “Chinese,” and how are they Chinese? What aspects are supposedly hard for Westerners to understand? Can you explain them to us? (The more detail the better.)

Non-Chinese readers: I’d also like the non-Chinese readers to be honest about how this essay comes across, what you think the strong points are, and what you think the weak points are.

If we can do this without yelling at each other, I think we might actually learn something — not just about our differing opinions, but also our differing communication and argumentation styles.

PLEASE NOTE: I’m not posting this so we can debate who’s media is more biased. I’m posting this (1) for some Chinese feedback of these particular arguments, (2) to examine differences in the way arguments are made and differences in what is considered a “strong argument,” and (3) perhaps uncover some popular Mainlander expectations regarding how Western media ought to behave. (I myself recently ran into some assumed-but-unspoken expectations regarding my own writing, and I suspect this is an angle worth pursuing.)

  1. TonyP4
    September 15th, 2008 at 13:31 | #1

    I’m an oversea Chinese, so it is hard to classify myself. As long as the current government works, there is no need to change it. However, the changes should be gradual to have more freedom…, but not to overturn the current government.

    The news media has to publish controversial issues (China provides a lot for them as she has more people) in order to survive. They need to find the next enemy and China fits the criteria. Unfortunately most citizens in US are blindly influenced by the media. They blame the job loss in manufacturing on China, despite it is an outcome of globalization (more good than bad). I can go on and on on so many examples that appear to be true but not so after some thoughts.

    US tends to use their own yardstick to measure others. If you do not fit my yardstick, you’re bad. China should compare China today and China 30 years ago. From this yardstick, China has leaped forward better than most countries.

  2. Wukailong
    September 15th, 2008 at 13:45 | #2

    Well… I have to say, I agree with most points the author does, although I’m not Chinese. If I’m to pick some points where I think the author reasons in a thoroughly “Chinese” style, though only in a very modern sense of the word, it’s:

    * The idea that the West is thoroughly individualist and China and the rest of the Confucian sphere thoroughly collectivist
    * The idea that Western countries were, in general, democratic when they began with economic reforms (perhaps true for the major players – USA, UK and France, but look at Germany, Italy, Spain etc)
    * Her initial belief that the Western media is a whole is unbiased and completely truthful

    As for what I think the weak points of the article are, it’s mainly the simplifications about China and the West. The strong points are her message and the way she conveys it: that the West, in promoting democracy, is doing it in a stubborn, ideological and negative way that alienates Chinese people. It might even alienate westerners, if I’m to believe what friends and family are thinking (and most of them have very limited experience of China).

    Sorry, I can’t really contribute more than this.

  3. Wukailong
    September 15th, 2008 at 13:51 | #3

    On, another “Chinese” mode of thinking is this:

    “Some of those people may be concerned that China will become a new eastern empire that threatens the west. So they actually want to use democracy and freedom as pretexts to divide and weaken China.”

    This belief, which I find dubious at best (found in expressions such as 唯恐天下不乱) seems quite common. I think people are good-natured when they talk about democracy, but they don’t understand the conditions in China. It’s more like Maria Antoinette saying that people could eat cake if they don’t have any bread, than any genuine malice.

  4. TommyBahamas
    September 15th, 2008 at 14:05 | #4

    Good job, Mr. Li. Well done. Excellent. BRAVO!

    To answer Joel’s question:

    I’m very curious to hear what FM’s Chinese readers think about this essay.

    I feel every word, every sentiment, every disappointment Mr. Li discribes. Like him, I used to trust every thing BBC reported in particular. I’ve never liked US News, really, but that’s besides the point. But as I started reading books and talked with people from all over the world, I started to slowly see and hear BSes, and now I don’t even bother to watch any Western News anymore. Ok, sorry, that was also not whay Joel asked.
    Some, if not most Americans I know in China are very critical of Yang Rui, the host of CCTV International’s Dialogue. However, I try to watch it whenever possible because Yang Rui, in my mind, represents the cross cultural Chinese voice in English. I want to find the video he talked about in this video of the interview with George Schultz of Reagan’s Admin., where Yang Rui got tough on the double standard of American Foreign Policy, regarding the Taliban and Sadam Hussien. When the camera was off, Yang Rui said a very unhappy Schultz said he would not accept anymore Chinese interview. LOL.

    http://www.cctv.com/viponline/27/01/27/44/index.shtml

    Alright, Tommy, answer Joel’s freaking questions!

    “What aspects are supposedly hard for Westerners to understand? Can you explain them to us?”????

    For Joel and some of you who speaks fluent Chinese, there’s not a lot to misunderstand here if you really care to know. But for folks who only form their opinions based on the misinformation or biased information as their regular China related junk news diet, what can we expect, right. As a matter of fact, I have Asian friends from all over South East Asia who are far more critical of and wrong about China than some of you fine folks. Guess where they get there news? And it is when these misinformed folks, where ever they hail from, started shooting their mouths off, spewing nonesense here — in and of their host country — that used to really ….. But like I said before, I used to care, but now I just laugh in their faces or change the topic. Like they say, “You don’t have to force people to dress down, because when the sun rises, they’ll do it themselves.”

  5. TonyP4
    September 15th, 2008 at 14:12 | #5

    The recent Olympics opened the eyes of many foreign reporters – most of them visited China for the first time. They found the Chinese are warm and helpful. They are treated like kings and queens (thanks to Chinese government’s effort and the genuine citizens).

    The horror stories of the communists taking them to hell do not exist, so are the pollution, terrorist attack…. They can only find something trivial to make the Chinese ugly like copying the US lip sing technique, under-age athletes (are the doping gold medalists from US more serious?), or no fun (more fun if you have terrorist attack?)… Hope this real-life experience will change what they write in the future, even their bosses ask them to do otherwise in order to sell their paper and ads.

    I feel sorry for the US cyclists wearing mask incidence. Obviously they’re influenced by all the bad stories from the media. They are innocent and just misinformed. The media should apologize.

  6. TommyBahamas
    September 15th, 2008 at 14:20 | #6

    I agree with Wukailong’s comments

    As for 唯恐天下不乱… “the good nature of people and Maria Antoinette’s example,” that’s not wrong either. YET, the best and very effective use of Conquer and Divide tactic / political maneuvering by the small population of the British Empire to rule the huge populations of India, Africa, Australia Asia etc for a century is as real as shit is to flies.

  7. wuming
    September 15th, 2008 at 14:27 | #7

    The “Chineseness” I get from the essay is the description of the common journey many of us expat Chinese took. The short version is like this:

    Before and during 89, many of us were anti-CCP or at least indifferent to politics. Then by mid 1990s, two things happened to us: the first is the disillusion with Western democracies (probably mainly US) for their internal failings and external hypocrisies started to set in; the second is the new gained prosperity of our families and friends back in China started to dawn on us.

    The flip-flop made us suspicious of any ideology. But on the whole, we were still mostly “liberals” in American parlance. The last straw was laid on the camel this year. This current wave of China bashing by Western opinion makers was spearheaded by many of these same liberals that we have been most identified with. The feeling of betrayal, justified or not, have radicalized many of us, as you may have observed on blogs like this one.

  8. Wukailong
    September 15th, 2008 at 16:28 | #8

    I’m fascinated by the dialectical change that Wuming mentions, something I would hope more people abroad could understand. The Chinese government has moved on and learned from many of its mistakes in the past, and now presents a much more appealing vision.

    Still, I also believe media as a whole will change when there is more reporting from China.

  9. Wukailong
    September 15th, 2008 at 16:44 | #9

    Hmm, off-topic, but, I need to vent somewhere… There is no way to comment on EastSouthWestNorth. This report really annoys me:

    http://www.zonaeuropa.com/20080829_1.htm

    It kind of reminds me of some of the reports abroad in the beginning of the games, making fun of the volunteers. Alright, there are no bad intentions really, but when you read this article, the feeling that the whole world revolved around the US hits you like a mugger. Why is it any more obvious where Houston is than where Datong is, for example? How many Americans would be able to produce a string of any other language than their own?

  10. September 15th, 2008 at 17:53 | #10

    I don’t see anything particular “Chinese” about this – only rationality. I was born and raised in Taiwan before immigrating to the U.S. in 1981 – so I can’t really be considered “Chinese” in the sense that I’ve been brainwashed by the CCP.

    But having gone through a thoroughly western education, I am getting to a stage where western rhetoric and western presumptions are getting very very tiring. This is the main reason why I decided to join this blog. I don’t need to go as far as using “Chinese” perspectives to expose the deep flaws in the Western psyche and assumptions. I just need normal rationality…

  11. Daniel
    September 15th, 2008 at 18:11 | #11

    The essay isn’t hard to understand for anyone. In general, the reader would probably have to be very ignorant or very un-interested in current topics to not understand the main point. Maybe the only gripe it could have was for an essay, some parts seem simplistic as Wukailong mentioned. However, putting in perspective, if this was a speech, than it would have been fine.
    One generalization I noticed when talking with many Chinese from the mainland is if it were a serious conversation they tend to use or emphasize examples to explain the point but leave enough room where the other person talking needs to figure out the rest…read between the lines. Some non-Chinese do the same as well but in their own unique ways.

  12. September 15th, 2008 at 19:56 | #12

    wuming @ 7, I feel that. When I initially protested the Iraq war I identified with these people. But I became more disenfranchised as other issues such as Walmart, China jobs were onboarded.

    The brick that broke the camel’s back for me was when certain “concentration camp/organ harvesting” political BS funded by the US government made it’s way to the liberal/progressive crowd.

  13. September 15th, 2008 at 20:24 | #13

    Western media doesn’t give you truth, what it gives you is an inability to suppress truth. The confusion of those two seems to have lifted many people’s expectations through the roof. If the audience wants the truth they need to be wiling to fish through a lot of data and they will certainly find some pro Chinese reports somewhere in the western media.

    As with any media – the stories presented are still created and chosen by people with the same biases the public have and therefore there will be more stories that confirm their biases rather than challenge them and so reflects those biases back to the public particularly in situations like this where there is no fact of the matter regarding whether ‘freedom’ or ‘prosperity’ is more important.

    The issue however is that there is no medium through which you could get this sort of information that is not biased in the same way – I don’t even know that one is possible and if it is a force of nature I don’t see much point in simply complaining to the wind.

  14. Pollemoz
    September 15th, 2008 at 22:35 | #14

    The way I see it, Mr. Liu’s essay is not particulary Chinese, whatever that term actually means.It’s a rational respons to the media coverage in the Western world, both in Europe and in the US. In a way, it’s very similar to what has happened in a lot of European countries after the US invasion of Iraq. Ever since the end World War 2, the US has promoted itself as I kind of Guardian of the free world, the flagship of democracy. I will not try and jugde whether this image is true or not, but it’s quite obvious that the US’s is having a hard time keeping this reputation. When people see their old Super-Hero making mistakes, a change is bound to happen. To me, the “Decline of the US hegomony” is the main reason here, rather than the “Rise of China”.

    I’m not saying Mr. Liu doesn’t have a point here (or quite a few, actually), but I don’t think it can be seen just as a result of Chinese national pride on the rise. You can see these kind of “childhood-dreams” break all the world.

    The intoxicating power of the US is starting to loose it’s grip, people are starting to sober up, and when they do, they start to understand a thing or two about what’s been going on.

  15. CLC
    September 15th, 2008 at 23:53 | #15

    @wuming&Wukailong

    WSJ made an interesting observation “The same people who demanded democracy in 1989, when they were students, are now often among the fiercest nationalists.”

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121279005063553131.html

  16. September 16th, 2008 at 00:20 | #16

    Thanks everyone. Good comments so far. I have two separate comments:

    (1) Expectations
    I want to highlight GNZ#13 – “Western media doesn’t give you truth, what it gives you is an inability to suppress truth. The confusion of those two seems to have lifted many people’s expectations through the roof.”

    One common theme here seems to be Mainlanders disappointment/disillusionment with Western media. It seems like many Mainlanders originally had very high expectations (“I used to trust everything BBC reported”), and then were sorely disappointed and hurt when those expectations weren’t met (“betrayed”, etc.).

    What do Mainlanders expect of news media? How is Western news media not meeting those expectations? Do people assume we Westerners trust our own media’s news reports?

    (2) 1989 and Mainlanders’ views of the West
    “The same people who demanded democracy in 1989, when they were students, are now often among the fiercest nationalists.”
    I’ve heard this sentiment expressed many times, that 1989 was the turning point when Mainlanders really changed their opinion of the West and started becoming more nationalistic. Can someone please explain to me how 1989 changed peoples’ opinions in this way? I don’t understand, because it makes more sense in my mind that 1989 would have made people desire that kind of change even more, not side with the rulers who hurt them. Obviously, that’s not how many Mainlanders see it. [@Admin – it this is too sensitive, I won’t complain if you delete it.]

  17. wuming
    September 16th, 2008 at 01:01 | #17

    Joel

    What 1989 exposed was the “angry youth” that have always existed among Chinese students. The tradition probably goes back over a thousand years. Its manifestation in recent history include the May 4th movement of 1919, the communist movement, the Red Guards of CR, April 5th Tiananmen protest of 1976, June 4th Tiananmen protest of 1989 and finally the Fenqings of 2008.

    Right after 1989, Chinese youth (and some not so young even then) were still furious at CCP. The North America branch of the Fenqing then staged several protests in Washington DC in front of Chinese Embassy. They organized themselves through e-mails and faxes and pretty much invented internet mass movement (Al Gore couldn’t even claim credit for that.) Therefore the turning point was certainly not 1989. Although you can argue that the raw energy driving the later nationalists comes from the same strain.

    The change from anti-government to pro-government occurred so subtly that we were already full-fledged “nationalists” before we realized it. If I have to fix a year, it was Deng Xiao-ping’s southern tour in 1992 that sowed the seeds.

  18. Hongkonger
    September 16th, 2008 at 01:29 | #18

    “Do people assume we Westerners trust our own media’s news reports?”

    Most of the Chinese-who-care or know anything about Westerners know that Westerners are very critical of their own MSM, but then, so what? So are we chinese. However, when it comes to China, a lot, if not all, Westerners often (not always) parrot their BS media’s rhetorics and sentiments, exposing the prejudicial culture and double-standard in foreign policy that is so ingrained in Euro-Yankee (I hope this is not a bad term?) mentality especially in regards to “the Chinese,” “them Blacks / Africans, those Arabs,” etc. BTW, we admit that we are not the most politically correct people, but our form of racial discrimination stamp from ignorance while racism in the West were deliberate and exploitative.
    And another thing, to us, good news is good news (we celebrate good news, and hate it when party poopers crash the party) and when the news is bad, like the Sichuan earthquake and the recent mudslide in the mining town, we moan, weep and donate generously. CCTV may choose to air more of the former but it is also not shy in showing the world its backwards countryside, and the misery of the dirt poor. As for cosmetics, propaganda, white washing and cover-ups, all media do that.

    “I don’t understand, because it makes more sense in my mind that 1989 would have made people desire that kind of change even more, not side with the rulers who hurt them.”

    It is very simple, Joel, really. I am not a mainlander. I had all the prejudices and attitudes of the west when I first came in contact with Mainlanders and later China. And when over the years I realized my mistakes, I want to tell the world who the bigger liars is, where the greater evil lurksbecause I once believed in them to the detriment of the good name of my people, culture and country. Fair enough? This blog is for removing mountains not piling on rocks, I hope I have not done the latter by being total un-PC here. Cheers.

  19. Otto Kerner
    September 16th, 2008 at 01:44 | #19

    I not only found the article’s rationale easy to follow, I also basically agree with it. Mainstream American media coverage of China is pretty bad. I think the media senses that China is big and increasingly important in the world, and reporters can find out a lot of specific facts about it, but they have very few ideas about how to string those facts together to make a story that will be interesting to their average readers.

    Mr. Li’s example of the Changjiang flooding is a good example. The media could write stories about helpful PLA soldiers, but I don’t think this sounds very exciting. So, instead they write about human misery, which always holds a morbid fascination. The result is unbalanced coverage.

    I think his example of the Jack Cafferty affair is less compelling. Cafferty started out by saying, “The Chinese are thugs.” After an uproar, he said, “Sorry, I misspoke. I meant to say the Chinese government people are thugs.” Then the uproar continued. This doesn’t prove that Cafferty misunderstands China, unless we assume that he tried and failed to say something to make people happy, rather than simply giving his honest opinion. (By the way, I know nothing about Cafferty and I don’t know whether he understands China at all or whether he was giving an honest opinion or just trying to get attention).

    Come to think, this Cafferty passage is maybe an example of an argument/style that is ‘Chinese’. Mr. Li appears to have assumed that other people say things with the desire to have a particular effect on the listener, rather than just giving opinions off the cuff. This is stereotypical Chinese behaviour; I don’t know how true that stereotype is.

  20. Otto Kerner
    September 16th, 2008 at 01:48 | #20

    One last thing, I didn’t like the part where Mr. Li says, “The western media may not realize that they are losing China! They are losing the admiration and trust of the young generation of China, pushing them towards nationalism.” Can we please hold people accountable for their own opinions, so that, if young people in China become more nationalistic (if that’s a bad thing), we can treat that as something that those young people do, not something that somebody else made them do? The western media can’t make you turn into a nationalist if you don’t want to be one.

  21. CLC
    September 16th, 2008 at 01:49 | #21

    @wuming

    Actually, I would say the students (“angry youth”) were fiercest nationalists then, they are still fiercest nationalists now, although their perspectives certainly changed.

    @Joel
    There are quite a few posts on 1989.
    http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/tag/sixfour/

  22. Wahaha
    September 16th, 2008 at 01:57 | #22

    Otto,

    In 1980s, Chinese believed that West would help China like they helped Japan and South Korea, I believe people in Russia also believed so.

    What happened in Russia and Tibet issue have made lot of Chinese believe that instead of welcoming a prosperous China, West wants to see a weak China or an India-like China that will follow their baton.

  23. Wukailong
    September 16th, 2008 at 03:46 | #23

    @Hongkonger: “Most of the Chinese-who-care or know anything about Westerners know that Westerners are very critical of their own MSM, but then, so what? So are we chinese. However, when it comes to China, a lot, if not all, Westerners often (not always) parrot their BS media’s rhetorics and sentiments, exposing the prejudicial culture and double-standard in foreign policy that is so ingrained in Euro-Yankee (I hope this is not a bad term?) mentality especially in regards to “the Chinese,” “them Blacks / Africans, those Arabs,” etc. BTW, we admit that we are not the most politically correct people, but our form of racial discrimination stamp from ignorance while racism in the West were deliberate and exploitative.”

    A lot of different things here. First of all, I don’t believe that most people in any part of the world question their media to any great extent. Also, most people believe in their education and the way they were brought up. So Westerners and Chinese often (not always) parrot their media phrases, even down on the level of slogans.

    As for racism being evil in the Western case, and just silly in the Chinese case, it doesn’t take different Western countries into account, and it hardly matters to the people subject to the it.

    This is a good example of “Chinese style” post, btw, especially the saying “we Chinese” and the idea that one person knows the thinking of all his/her compatriots.

  24. S.K. Cheung
    September 16th, 2008 at 06:23 | #24

    I’m HK born Canadian of Chinese descent, so not sure how that works with your scheme. I thought the essay was fine, but really not that ground-breaking. In fact, i’d say many of the sentiments have been espoused by many of the regulars on this blog for months. Perhaps if I read it a year ago, it may have seemed more significant…GASP…maybe this blog has made me moderate my views a bit….ohhh, say it ain’t so….

    Also not sure how it has any special Chinese perspective…didn’t seem all that difficult to understand his POV.

    And the last third was down-right disappointing. The retread Cafferty stuff, mixed with a little fear-mongering. Not exactly finishing with a flourish.

  25. Hongkonger
    September 16th, 2008 at 07:42 | #25

    This is a good example of “Chinese style” post, btw, especially the saying “we Chinese” and the idea that one person knows the thinking of all his/her compatriots.

    Ah, this is True…English 101..But then how do I know it’s true since I, me, moi can’t speak for all Chinese in the Mainland or anywhere in the world – certainly not on behalf of overseas, western educated, independant thinking ethnic Chinese. Actually, beng one myself, I should have known better. This generic, holistic phrase 我们中国人 does NOT translate so well in English, does it? Use ‘a lot,’ ‘many,’ ‘some’ but never ‘we Chinese.’ Thanks for the tip, Wukailong. So, I guess I get an “F” for that last comment, huh?

    “The West” is another one of those generic terms that often get one in trouble, and derail your whole argument. Damn, I should have paid more attention in Civic “polical Correctness,” or cross-cultural sensitivity or debate classes. Wait a minute, there were no such sissy classes in my neck of the woods. So, again, thank you, Wukailong for shinning a spot light on that.

  26. Michelle
    September 16th, 2008 at 08:06 | #26

    There is nothing really inflamatory in this essay. It’s well written, makes good points, and is very similar to many articles I’ve read in western media by Chinese and other writers since April. Nothing new really, well thought out and quite tame (in a good way). Am I missing something? Maybe I am that rare cow that can appreciate music 🙂

  27. Michelle
    September 16th, 2008 at 08:14 | #27

    TonyP4@I feel sorry for the US cyclists wearing mask incidence. Obviously they’re influenced by all the bad stories from the media. They are innocent and just misinformed. The media should apologize.

    I agree with everything you said. However, as a long time resident of Beijing, I can attest to the fact that the air here can get very bad at times, and many cyclists wear masks / cover their faces on these days. I think the *cyclists* are to blame, not the media.

  28. Michelle
    September 16th, 2008 at 08:32 | #28

    I should explain my cow statement – it was a reference to one of the comments translated on ESWN

  29. Hongkonger
    September 16th, 2008 at 08:51 | #29

    “Most of the Chinese-who-care or know anything about Euro-American culture tend to believe that they are very critical of their own patriotic or nationalistic Main Stream Media, but then, so what? So are a lot of Mainland chinese. However, when it comes to China, a lot, if not all European-Americans often times parrot their own BS media’s rhetorics and sentiments, exposing the prejudicial culture and double-standard in foreign policy that is so ingrained in their Eurocentric mentality, especially in regards to “the Chinese,” “them Blacks / Africans, those Arabs,” etc. to use some common American parlance. This is nothing new, people of all culture and nationality in general tend to parrot their media phrases, even down on the level of slogans, it seems, as our friendly foreign friend here kindly pointed out.

    BTW, I am among many who admit that we, meaning some of us who are Chinese, are not the most politically correct people, which is why some of us are sometimes accused of being racist. I think, perhaps, historically, the general form of so called racism among some of the Chinese in their homeland come from fear. Even anger mixed with fear of history repeating itself which many know from personal experiences of the ulterior motives of certain foreign imperial groups of people who in the consciousness of our grandfather’s generation are still rather fresh. As ignorance is bliss, hence, hopefully the younger Chinese urban generation will be spared these hang ups. The problem however remains today with those who come in contact with outsiders, like business folks, shop keepers, white collar workers, overseas students etc.It must appear rather peculiar and downright odd that although most of the visitors from those supposedly wealthier countries who don’t speak or only very little of the local languages, are nevertheless nearly always very critical of the customs and mentality of their host nations, not only in China but is widely known to be so in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand; as a matter of fact, virually wherever they went. And the fact that these same foreigners are in general financially and politically better off if not in substance , at least in some people’s perceptions, because as is noted historical, that the accumulation of their national wealth, prestige and power are — to some extent — the result of generations of deliberate and exploitative practices of colonialism, segregations, racism the world over , not to mention full out slavery in countries like the US of A until as recent as early 20th Century or even more recent, Apartheid South Africa.
    In any case, this blog is dedicated to the removing of mountains not the piling on of racial, cultural and nationalistic rocks. I hope I have not done the latter by being at best merely marginally Politically Correct here. Cheers, peace and good will to all men, women and children of all race, creed and nationality.

  30. September 16th, 2008 at 09:12 | #30

    Hongkonger,

    I still see no lack of parallel between the western and Chinese cases. the Chinese parrot their rhetorics and sentiments too. Not saying one is worse than the other, it is just exactly what one can expect.

    I also don’t see western racism as ‘deliberately’ exploitative compared to the Chinese version, and I don’t see why you do. If anything western strategy is significantly less deliberate than Chinese.

    The issue may be the popular habit of ascribing agency to westerners and not to non-westerners that Otto highlights.

  31. Denis
    September 16th, 2008 at 11:04 | #31

    @Joel

    The 1989 experience built on the May 4 Movement and even the Cultural Revolution, where it was “right to rebel”. All these movements have been part of the intellectual diversification and development of the Chinese over the last century of so. Recent developments (for example, with the “fenqing”) have been to do with dampening of this spirit, led by the centre in particular through policies of economic development. Given that the Chinese diaspora is a cultural community, it’s not surprising that the overseas Chinese get involved in this as well.

    With respect to media expectations, the Li letter and the BBC decision to publish can be seen as a landmark. Media – globally, nationally, locally – is a development over decades and centuries and the use of a “blank slate” concept (as malleable, moral etc) to describe it is naive. The point here is that Mao had such a blank slate concept when he said “the Chinese people are a blank page on which to write the most beautiful writing” and we should not believe he was alone in thinking that.

  32. Wukailong
    September 16th, 2008 at 11:10 | #32

    @Hongkonger: Hmm, I have a feeling I was too direct and blunt with that one. My apologies.

    I don’t really see any need to be “politically correct”, it just struck me as typical Chinese in a sense to say “we Chinese” (or 我们中国人). I’m with you on the wealthy foreigners who stay in some other country and complain about the way things are.

    I would say in my case, I often tend to feel that blogs are of any relevance to knowing what most people think. Obviously they are not, with all these libertarians in the West, and 愤青 in China.

  33. Theo
    September 16th, 2008 at 11:19 | #33

    To get a different perspective on this essay I took out all the references to China and replaced them to make it read as if it had been written by an American complaining about British coverage of the US. And guess what – it reads just like one of those why-do-they-hate us self-pitying diatribes you read on Michelle Malkin’s website or Newsmax. Nowhere does he/she show any insight into why western media coverage of China might focus on ‘negative’ (ie newsworthy) aspects. Has she never heard the phrase that news is something that someone somewhere doesn’t want to be printed All the rest is advertising/propaganda? (Even though it came from the king of yellow journalism, Hearst?) And during her residence in the west did she not become aware of the ways in which western governments and businesses manage news via
    expensive and all encompassing armies of spin doctors?
    The author seems to be wilfully ignorant of the nature of the beast that is ‘western media’ – and talks as if it were a single entity rather than a highly disparate and polarised collection of outlets.
    The article is also notable for what the author doesn’t say and what the author doesn’t ask. Do western reporters focus on the victims and the rumours of corruption because they are barred from disaster areas and get no response form official sources? (See how much positive coverage came out when reporters were allowed into Sichuan, for example, and given access to the premier).
    And rather than asking why western reports are so ‘negative’ [when in fact so much of what they produce is the anodyne ‘gee-whiz isn’t China really booming’] why does the author not ask why Chinese media are not asking the same hard questions?
    The author seems to lack insight into her own Chinese culture – commentators like Lin Yutang and Lu Xun who were scathing of many aspects of Chinese society.
    The most Chinese aspect of this article seems to be resentment that China is being publically criticised and losing face, and that it deserves better coverage (I agree, it does). But all in all a rather ill-informed and myopic article that seems to attribute to China’s poor media coverage to western prejudice and ignorance rather than analysing the more complex factors at work.

  34. September 16th, 2008 at 13:34 | #34

    Can I make a special request that our Chinese readers respond to Theo’s comment (#33)? Especially this idea:

    “The most Chinese aspect of this article seems to be resentment that China is being publicly criticized and losing face…”

    I don’t want to hear what you think about his personal motivations or personal character. But I do want to hear what you think about that idea, and whether or not it has merit. What’s the connection between national/racial ‘face’ and Mainlanders’ evaluations of foreign media reports?

  35. Hongkonger
    September 16th, 2008 at 14:22 | #35

    Western prejudice and ignorance? Really?
    Ok, I have been told, the average Americans, Brits, Aussies, Kiwis, and Europeans including..(Shit, this is getting tidious, I’m just going to stick to westerners, so, bite me)….western 老百性for example don’t generally give a hoot about China, but I am guessing you are not refering to Mr. Li’s complains as towards the Old Hundred Names of the West, right? Like me, a lot of his friends and clients are these westerners whom he trust, rely on, trade with and most like is friendly with.
    However, Western political entities are nothing if not prejudicial and anything but ignorant — It’s all a game of chess –super smart strategists, political advisors, Operatives, military geniuses blah, blah, blah, making all kinds of false moves and counter moves to get the ordinary friends and foes of the world go at each others throats and or taking sides, participate in the blaming game. I sometimes have to get paranoid and tune into NMB What’s…renegade frequencies to perceive from such alternative angles such as the world of the global occults—at the insane world of conspiratorial orderliness with their time honored ritualistic strategies, of blatant symbolic mind infiltration, subtle sensorial overloading; from subtle psycho-incisions to open invasions and making travesty of reality.So, you think you are educated? I suspect otherwise. Too much of the occultic symbolism and rituals and misinformation in what we’ve accepted, taken for granted as formal education clearly show that many of us are unaware and have been sorely distracted.

    Wukailong,
    No apologies necessary –As usual, I am not serious at all, just read what I’ve just written above, I just needed to practice my two-fingers typing, that’s all.

  36. TonyP4
    September 16th, 2008 at 14:37 | #36

    Newspapers reflect what the readers want to read, so biases are built-in. Same for Chinese papers and western papers.

    I am an immigrant from Hong Kong a long while ago. To the Hongkonger, the following I wrote for fun a while ago.

    ——

    * Hi, my name is Boris *

    I’m the mayor of London. If I look familiar to you, it is because I was in the closing ceremony in the Beijing Olympic. I have a confession.

    I had two dozens of the great Chinese beer and our famous opium before the ceremony (luckily they did not test me for drugs). That’s why I looked like a happy child and the flag was so heavy to wave when it was passed to me.

    I did not button my jacket, as it was too hot for my big belly. By the way, I picked up the jacket from the flea market. It is a little big, but the price is right.

    If you found any grammatical mistake in this confession, it is because I just barely passed high school.

    If you asked me why I am the mayor of London, you have to ask why my brother-in-law, a janitor in London, was the governor of Hong Kong.

    How many Briton can make all Britons ugly and stupid in 8 minutes? I’m the only one and for that I should get a gold medal.

  37. Wahaha
    September 16th, 2008 at 14:38 | #37

    Joel,

    His idea is based upon the assumption that he knows what is going on in China, which lot of Chinese think that ;ot of criticisms from West show their ignorance about China.

  38. TommyBahamas
    September 16th, 2008 at 14:45 | #38

    Yu are quite right, Wukailong. None of what we write here is going to change anyody’s mind, except SKC fears that he might have become more moderate over the year. But I think it’s only because he has aged a little, a year at least,just kidding SKC.
    Yang Rui the host of CCTV -9 Dialogue said something which makes good sense, “人到 中年 看山不是山看水不是水,可是 到了老年 就 看到山说是山, 看到水就说是水” , in other words, East or West people are people, a product of Nature, a fool of the environment.

  39. Hongkonger
    September 16th, 2008 at 14:56 | #39

    TonyP4 –Man, Love all your jokes and satires. Are they all yours, all your original ideas? They are effing BRILLIANT! This one you just posted was exactly what I thought and said to my friend watching the closing with me… it’s so great~! I am sure Jimmy Page was his idea too. London’s gonna be FANTASTIC, all they have to do is bring out all the Rock stars like Elton John, Paul McCarthney, Eric Clapton, the Stones, Page and Plant, Ritchie Blackmoore, John Lord and Gillan, Suzi Quatro if she’s still around, etc…Yeah, Rock N Roll London!

  40. TonyP4
    September 16th, 2008 at 15:07 | #40

    @Michelle,

    May be no one needs to apologize if the media did not make a big deal of it. It has been tough for the cyclists as they’re making fun of in the village and via the internet. They did not compete well as they lost the concentration. We’re all young like them at one time and we all acted silly once a while. The ‘crime’ does not fit the punishment.

  41. Hongkonger
    September 16th, 2008 at 15:08 | #41

    Oh, I forgot the Who, how could I’ve missed the Who, The clash, Sting, and I’m totally off topic, sorry.
    If you asked me why I am the mayor of London, you have to ask why my brother-in-law, a janitor in London, was the governor of Hong Kong. LOL~ but he had two very pretty daughters.

  42. TonyP4
    September 16th, 2008 at 15:15 | #42

    Hi Hongkonger, they’re all original (some ideas may be picked up elsewhere so I do not want to say 100%). When the stock market is not too fun like today, I turn my fun juice some where. The following is funniest to me. Hope you enjoy and pass it to your friends.

    ——–

    * Celebration of Olympics Bronzes

    What happened?
    How can we lose gold count to China, a third world country?
    Let’s have a national holiday of mourning. No one objects I bet!
    Let’s have a national contest of the best excuses of winning so less gold medals.
    It has to be the BEST, so it could worth a gold in this category.

    What to do?
    Borrow more money from China to buy foreign coaches…
    No Speedo to Australia and China.
    My secret weapon is to import 8 Jamaican runners. Money talks!
    Bribe the judges (a little harder as everyone hates us but money talks again).
    Change all the rules to our favor: 5 medals for basketball, 1 for table tennis, 0 for diving…
    All tiebreakers must go our way as our sponsors own the Olympics.
    We will amplify their “shortcomings”:
    copying our advance lip sing technique, working too hard, starting before you can walk, their security system too tight, the Chinese smiling too much…
    The Chinese must have put slippery jell on our batons and/or the gym apparatus.
    Develop a dope that can take out all dope traces from our body.
    “One country, all medals” is our new Olympics slogan.
    The more wishfully we think, the closer we succeed.

    How to heal now, really?
    Write to Dear Abby for starter.
    Bronze is the same as gold if not better.
    If you do not believe me, ask any blind person here.
    It is harder to get a bronze as we have to LET two others to win.
    We’ll train our athletes for the bronze from now on.
    NBC should interview bronze winners only as they are the real winners.
    Actually we’ll be happier to be #3 and build a better relationship with other nations.
    Stop laughing. It is a fact!!!
    Phelps, we love you more with 8 bronze medals – it is no easy job to let 2 and ONLY 2 pass you 8 times.

    If everything does not work, turn ugly.
    Ask McDonald’s and KFC to give away their “food” (better than opium) to China FREE, so their next generation will be so fat that they cannot walk to the subway station.
    Send soldiers to grab the medals, esp. gold. Hey, we have the best offense.

    Will the world be better if we only fought for gold medals only (bronze medals in our case)?
    What an Olympic spirit to celebrate the winning of the bronze!

  43. Hongkonger
    September 16th, 2008 at 15:28 | #43

    TonyP4 , are you semi retired and just enjoying life in the West, in the US of A’? I have a friend from HK who works in some resort cleaning pools in Atlanta — he is a rich man, though. He just needs the exercise.

    Yeah, this one is very funny ~Phelps, we love you more with 8 bronze medals – it is no easy job to let 2 and ONLY 2 pass you 8 times.
    If everything does not work, turn ugly.Send soldiers to grab the medals, esp. gold. Hey, we have the best offense.
    I was laughing so hard when I first read the one you wrote about selling China all the tanks and ICBM with the “return to sender” GPS switches. That was golden. Pls keep ’em coming.

  44. TonyP4
    September 16th, 2008 at 15:37 | #44

    Yes, I’m semi retired at a younger age and make sure I do not lose a lot in the stock market. When I argued with some Chinese bashers in sites like WashingtonPost, I got enough material for a fun article. English is not my native language and my training is in science, so you can find I have a hard time to express myself. I went to Hong
    Kong last summer.

  45. Hongkonger
    September 16th, 2008 at 15:51 | #45

    TonyP4, What are you talking about? You are expresing yourself Brillantly~!
    Dude, I was taking English classes at the British Council in Wanchai, at age 18.
    I still find English very 麻 “能” 烦 – very un-user friendly, but nevertheless, I am glad
    I did my time and paid my dues.

  46. September 16th, 2008 at 18:09 | #46

    @GNZ #13

    Western media doesn’t give you truth, what it gives you is an inability to suppress truth. The confusion of those two seems to have lifted many people’s expectations through the roof.

    The government has many ways to suppress the truth. Check out this very informative article that appeared earlier this year on the many ways gov’t can control allegedly free western media (i.e. western media does not give you an inability to suppress truth).

    Look – Western media is not “free” by any sense of the word. Historically freedom of speech has always been weighed against national security – with the line drawn changing depending on the geopolitics and the state of the country. As long as the press does not impinge on national security, the gov’t is willing to give a relatively free hand.

    The funny thing is that: the same is true in China. The Chinese gov’t cares less about most of the news being published (fashion, social issues, economics, etc.). It only cares about the depiction of news that could lead to mass instability, which is a threat to national security. The lines may be drawn differently between the West and China today – but I chalk that up more to the differences in the strength of the nation and the differences in current geopolitical power.

    In any case, government control of the media is not just about freedom of speech – it’s also about access to information. If you have done any investigative research, you will know that the gov’t has so many ways to control information access. And in the West, the access to many sensitive critical information is definitely off limits (see again the NY Times article cited above).

    In the big picture, gov’t forces are only one of the many forces that constrain flow of information. Capitalism probably cast a bigger shadow over the current western press than explicit gov’t regulation. The need to capture an audience that is really not enlightened or independent in its thinking has dumbed down the western press over the years.

    So in summary: I disagree with most of the contention expressed by GNZ #13 quoted above. I do agree with GNZ that even in a hypothetical free environment for the press, the truth does not automatically come bubbling up. Enterprising individuals would have to dig for it…

  47. September 16th, 2008 at 19:18 | #47

    @Allen

    well, on the other hand, I agree with most of what you say.

    I didn’t really intend to sound like I was denying the government tries and sometimes succeeds to influence the media – of course they do. Still I haven’t seen a positive story about Guantanamo on any western media so I’d suggest the strategy only worked because a lot of the public (‘fox news public’) wanted to see positive stories. I.e. their strategies are quite constrained by the “need to entertain force” (in a sense people voting with their eyes) which I think as you note casts a bigger shadow over the current western press.

  48. S.K. Cheung
    September 16th, 2008 at 20:53 | #48

    To Hongkonger:
    dig the HK style saucy lingo. But c’mon, English is that bothersome, is it? Your English seems just fine.

  49. S.K. Cheung
    September 16th, 2008 at 21:02 | #49

    To Allen:
    there are not absolute freedoms. So freedom of speech and freedom of press naturally also have limitations. But I agree with your characterization that one difference between us and China is where those limits are drawn.

    Government (and by extension, the people) impose limits on press freedoms. But on the other hand, government also facilitates those freedoms, by having variations of freedom of information legislation. That’s what allows your enterprising individuals the legal means to unearth some of the truths to which you referred. If anything, those tools are too limited in scope, for it is often toothless for the purposes of piercing the corporate veil of secrecy.

  50. Hongkonger
    September 17th, 2008 at 00:43 | #50

    S.K. Cheung,

    That is why I love HK style Cantonese, it can be as colorful as English, LOL. They say there are no swear words in Japanese – can anyone varify that claim? Have you ever tried teaching English to kids? The inconsistencies of English grammar drives me nuts. Take for example, you park in the driveway and drive on a parkway( ? ! ). Does fat chance mean slim chance, or when quite a few people make these same mistakes so quite a lot of them hence have given up? When did you recite at a play or did you play at a recital? And this is the dumbest of them all: When you say you are shipping something, you’re actually sending by truck, however, when you send by cargo, you are sending stuff by ship. Get it? Car Go, ship?
    Oh, this one got me in trouble once. Someone once praised me for my impeccable taste for something and trying to be modest I replied, “pardon my peccable English.” The same goes with gruntled, ruly, sung hero, requited love….why don’t these words exist in the positive? Aiya, so 麻 烦 ah…. 😉

  51. S.K. Cheung
    September 17th, 2008 at 04:22 | #51

    To HongKonger:
    LOL, those are hilarious examples. If you can come up with all that off the top of your head, your English is better than mine.

  52. September 17th, 2008 at 06:32 | #52

    @HongKonger,
    I think you have it backwards – your English is better than your friends!
    Those words do exist in the positive they just don’t know them. “Peccable” for example means liable to sin (in the context you used it it would imply a sin against the English language).
    Meanwhile cargo and shipment can be used in both scenarios.
    And yes you can swear in Japanese – your Japanese friends are just to civilized to want to have to tell you the words, bakka desu 😉

  53. Hongkonger
    September 17th, 2008 at 09:16 | #53

    LOL…Thanks for the lessons, GNZ.

    Hey, so, if I said, “bakka desu” to a Japanese bloke, will I receive a Karate chop to my neck?
    I don’t suppose you could explain …. nah, never mind. But, hey, thanks again. 🙂

  54. TonyP4
    September 17th, 2008 at 12:47 | #54

    Most my Chinese graduate students are from Taiwan. None of them learn Cantonese. It is harder for them (not much need on the first place) as a lot of Cantonese even beside swearing cannot be written down easily. Cantonese is the most colorful language I know. Always have new phrases invented by the Hong Kong folks. However, when several Chinese argue in Mandarin, they seem to be singing songs. Hope the first emperor of China united both written and speaking language, as I missed a lot of chance to make friends with the Mandarin-speaking folks.

  55. es.nautilus
    September 17th, 2008 at 13:04 | #55

    I know this is a late contribution and I’m sorry it looks a badly long-winded one now, but in response to the original questions at the top: it is difficult to second guess what Mr Li or the commentator of his article (quoted by Joel) thought must have been difficult for non-Chinese readers to understand, then the only way perhaps is to ask them directly or ask other readers what difficulties, if any, they might have had. Judging by the comments on this thread, many seem to understand the message ok, and I don’t see why not.

    As for feedback on Li’s essay, I feel that it was a well-written piece: the author seemed to be quite articulate and described how his perceptions have changed through his own ‘journey’. In my opinion, the reason why the quoted comment said it was ‘Chinese’ is that Li’s essay and his argument within were primarily based on a ‘Chinese’ narrative: his personal one as well as one that he believed was subscribed by many of the same era in China who would have shared some or many of similar experiences and comparable thought processes. That commentator must have identified with some of the sentiments.

    Other contributors in this discussion have already picked up on some of Li’s individual points and I do not feel I have much to add. However, I am somewhat perplexed with the question on Mainlanders’ expectations of western media – why? Why on earth should they care in the least what mainlanders expect of them?

    Finally, to Joel’s later special request to respond to comment #33: I had feared that this was where the discussion would take a turn for the worse, but thank goodness it transformed itself into a most entertaining one on English learning by speakers of other languages, which I have thoroughly enjoyed! Look, this is where the argument about so-called ‘Chinese-ness’ goes into the dump – it is almost entirely a matter of personal opinion. If one is of the opinion that the Chinese are defined by the character trait that they couldn’t possibly take any criticism or look beyond their own side of the mountain (山的那一边), but constantly wallow in their supposedly victim status, then in the admirable spirit that ‘everyone is entitled to their opinion’, that’s perfectly fine and they would agree with Theo (#33). If one is of an alternative opinion (deliberately polar opposite example here) that the quintessential piece of Chinese-ness is that they still have got enough pride and self-awareness to care about their own image on the international stage, then by the same token surely they are also entitled to present their side of the argument, if they wish to, or feel compelled to do so. One can simply locate their own opinion in the spectrum somewhere between the two points above (or maybe even beyond??), and the rest is done.

    I leave with two pieces of popular sayings in China: ‘走自己的路,让别人说去吧’, and ‘众口铄金,积毁销骨’. The first, most probably not a Chinese one, but a Chinese translation of a famous quote (though who said it eludes me…), has been used by some netizens as a message of encouragement in that the Chinese should rise above this perceived mud-slinging (‘there’s no point being over-sensitive and it’s not worth it getting into this tangle, because we’re bigger than this; we do it our way and we’ll do just fine’). The second, a most definitely Chinese saying, is arguably equally valid and pertinent in the same situation, in that if the Chinese nation genuinely feel that they have been so badly wronged, then surely they must stand up to the challenge, argue their own case and defend their honour. As they say, it’s only two sides of the same coin (or two of the many sides of the same coin if that’s ever possible).

  56. TonyP4
    September 17th, 2008 at 13:30 | #56

    Will some one tell me how to put Chinese characters in the text. Do I need some software to do so? I can read Chinese text from my e-mail after selecting the right code page. I will start with traditional Chinese characters first. Thanks and sorry for off the topic.

  57. Hongkonger
    September 17th, 2008 at 14:58 | #57

    TonyP4,

    I think if you have Windows English version, you are fxck, I mean stucked with English only.
    But I could be wrong — I use the Chinese version of Windows XP.

  58. wuming
    September 17th, 2008 at 15:50 | #58

    TonyP4,

    If Windows
    1. Open “regional and language options” in the control panel
    2. Choose Languages Tab, and check the “install files for East Asian Languages”.
    3. Click on “Details” button, in the Installed Services frame click on “Add” button, select the input language of your choice.

  59. September 17th, 2008 at 18:45 | #59

    Hongkonger –
    you might if he is uptight,
    but bakka is a light insult because I’m also too polite to give you a real dirty swear word on here even in Japanese.

  60. TommyBahamas
    September 18th, 2008 at 02:14 | #60

    Martin Luther King says: “We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.”

    Nearly a hundred years before Dr. Felix Adler, who “founded the religion” he called Ethical Culture, says: “There is as yet no civilized society, but only a society in the process of becoming civilized. There is as yet no civilized nation, but only nations in the process of becoming civilized. From this standpoint, we can now speak of a collective task of humankind. The task of humanity is to build a genuine civilization.”

    “Civilization is the process in which one gradually increases the number of people included in the term ‘we’ or ‘us’ and at the same time decreases those labeled ‘you’ or ‘them’ until that category has no one left in it.”
    (Howard Winters)

    Felix Adler, PhD: (Society for Ethical Culture)
    Professor of Oriental Languages at Cornell University in the Department of History
    Founding chairman of the National Child Labor Committee. Adler served on the Civil Liberties Bureau /American Civil Liberties Bureau / American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Was the president of the Eastern division of the American Philosophical Association, and was on the executive Board of the National Urban League.

  61. Hongkonger
    September 18th, 2008 at 02:28 | #61

    Former US President (Bush Senior, or was it Raegan?) made famous the phrase “The New World Order,” and the world didn’t like the implications. China, in the spirit of Sports wishes peace and harmony with “One World One Dream,” the Western media mock it.

    What else is there left to say but,‘走自己的路,让别人说去吧’….众口铄金,积毁销骨

  62. WiseOldMan
    September 18th, 2008 at 05:35 | #62

    @ Theo Comment # 33

    I agree with Theo in that the media is a “beast” who’s real purpose is to make money with the secondary goal of spreading news. The media often creates own demons, but nothing sells like gossip, conflict and fear. The basics of journalism is to present an unbiased article sharing both opposing view points. However more often than not, the journalist weighs an argument to their own beliefs.

    On a separate note its seems as though Theo misses the point with this comment:

    “The most Chinese aspect of this article seems to be resentment that China is being publicly criticized and losing face…”

    The Chinese don’t mind being criticized, the Chinese themselves are usually the most vocal and critical of their own government. However what the Chinese ask for is a unbiased account of the news, no cropping of pictures and no posting of pictures of Burmese soldiers with “Chinese Soldier” headers.

    It’s about time that the media became more responsible of what they say and write, the information portray is influencing the masses. People as a whole are dumb and easily susceptible to propaganda and information, it is individuals who are smart to defer which is worth believing.

  63. Wukailong
    September 18th, 2008 at 06:15 | #63

    @WiseOldMan: “However what the Chinese ask for is a unbiased account of the news, no cropping of pictures and no posting of pictures of Burmese soldiers with “Chinese Soldier” headers.”

    I think it was Nepalese police described as Chinese police.

    “It’s about time that the media became more responsible of what they say and write, the information portray is influencing the masses. People as a whole are dumb and easily susceptible to propaganda and information, it is individuals who are smart to defer which is worth believing.”

    I agree completely with that. Again, I think the Internet is driving this process.

    On another note (and unrelated to WiseOldMan’s post). The description of Western media as being extremely biased and out to split China was as common back in 2001 as it is now. I’m surprised at how many say they seriously believed it to be objective, so I wonder if that is a rewrite of history?

  64. TommyBahamas
    September 18th, 2008 at 23:26 | #64

    @WiseOldMan: “However what the Chinese ask for is a unbiased account of the news, no cropping of pictures”

    These fascists in Democracy & Freedom-of-Press garbs with their self-righteous,
    twisted for-the-good-of-mankind attitude have had billions fooled for decades, my friend.
    It’s ALMOST standard practice…China happens to be one of their many trump cards in guaranteeing good newspaper sales
    from negative journalism. But take heart, with the internet, they are losing their credibility faster
    than the US current economic free-fall.

    Ace Australian journalist John Pilger caught them here on FILM

    in “Democracy Now,” yeah~!

    http://www.democracynow.org/2007/8/7/freedom_next_time_filmmaker_journalist_john

  65. September 18th, 2008 at 23:35 | #65

    Should someone write up a post on this article? It’s got some good interesting stuffs!

  66. TommyBahamas
    September 19th, 2008 at 00:34 | #66

    Freedom NEXT time. A book by John Pilger

    A great, great read on journalism, the invisible government:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJcxj_Kvu7A&feature=related

  67. laurence
    September 19th, 2008 at 18:48 | #67

    “All this occurs because the western media do not really understand China and they have no intention of really understanding China either.” – Mr. Li

    “A genuine westerner is neither willing nor able to understand nor does he have any intention of comprehending this essay!” – commentator

    I feel that the commentator is merely mirroring an idea found within the text and applying it to the reception of the essay itself.
    I’d suggest that by ‘genuine westerner’ what the commentator means is one who uncritically accepts the world as presented by his/her media, and it’s for this reason that he/she would be “neither willing nor able to understand nor [have]… any intention of comprehending this essay.”

  68. TommyBahamas
    September 20th, 2008 at 02:25 | #68

    laurence ,

    Right on.

    Exactly what I meant in # 4…thanks for making it clearer.

    For Joel and some of you who speaks fluent Chinese, there’s not a lot to misunderstand here if you really care to know. But for folks who only form their opinions based on the misinformation or biased information as their regular China related junk news diet, what can we expect, right. As a matter of fact, I have Asian friends from all over South East Asia who are far more critical of and wrong about China than some of you fine folks. Guess where they get there news?

  69. laurence
    September 20th, 2008 at 07:02 | #69

    TommyBahamas,

    Yes, I suppose I hardly added anything substantially new to what was previously said by you and others.

    I also concur with some points made earlier by Theo. In particular, I agree that Mr. Li seems to have little understanding of how the media works in the west. Towards the end of the essay, he writes, “The western media seem to want democracy for the sake of democracy and they don’t care what happens to China after democracy and freedom come.” Now I’m not so sure whether the media really want anything other than that which will help them to fulfill their own role, but why indeed should the media care what happens? The media’s role is to mediate news, not to build a ‘better society’.
    This reminds me of the conversation on the role of the media Joel had with his teacher and linked to at the top of this page. And perhaps this idea of the media as a body that has moral obligations to improve society and not merely represent it is, finally, something that is distinctively ‘Chinese’.

  70. Karma
    September 20th, 2008 at 07:10 | #70

    @laurence,

    And perhaps this idea of the media as a body that has moral obligations to improve society and not merely represent it is, finally, something that is distinctively ‘Chinese’.

    Very interesting idea. I have a related thought that I don’t know if people here would agree with. The media is not just about reporting figures and facts, but telling a story. The media can therefore be uniquely instrumental in projecting a vision and uniting a nation to attempt great things. Of course, a cynic would simply call this “propaganda…”

  71. S.K. Cheung
    September 20th, 2008 at 08:17 | #71

    Personally, I’d rather the media stick to reporting the “facts”, although even what constitutes a fact is sometimes debatable. I can then take those facts, and form my own opinions. That’s better than someone forming “my” opinions and feeding them to me. It seems most of the examples of the perceived problems with western media quoted on this blog result from the opinion pieces.
    It’s fine if media wants to expand into the realm of story-telling…just don’t call that news.

  72. TommyBahamas
    September 20th, 2008 at 08:22 | #72

    And perhaps this idea of the media as a body that has moral obligations to improve society and not merely represent it is, finally, something that is distinctively ‘Chinese’.

    Um, not sure about that…

    Last night, to test the new home theatre system I chose, sat down and watched “Saving Private Ryan”again. My Anglo-American friend seated next to me kept interrupting, “Look there’s another Jewish symbolism. Spielberg, yunno, he’s a Jew. See there’s another one over there.These Jews, they really know how to promote their causes, ” on and on throughout the movie.

    How about a drastic change of circumstances and social conditions affects on the media?

    Take the movie genres for example, film historian. Prof. Dr. Sheri Chinen Biesen places the origins of film noir in postwar Hollywood,with the genre’s roots firmly planted in the political, social, and material conditions of Hollywood during the war. After Pearl Harbor, America and Hollywood experienced a sharp cultural transformation that made horror, shock, and violence not only palatable but preferable. Hard times necessitated cheaper sets, fewer lights, and fresh talent; censors as well as the movie-going public showed a new tolerance for sex and violence; and female producers experienced newfound prominence in the industry.

    As for, “The media can […]be uniquely instrumental in projecting a vision and uniting a nation to attempt great things. Of course, a cynic would simply call this “propaganda…”

    In most cases, they do and they without a shadow of doubt are. As the Chinese saying goes, “The greater the tree, the more dead branches there are on it.” So, the best are not always known, the truth are often hidden or attentions distracted by trivia. Sometimes it’s fate or perhaps it’s the what they call in Chaos theory, the “sensitive dependence on initial conditions,” or the so-called ‘ Butterfly effect,’ that only a small random population learn of something closer to the hows, whys and wherefors, somehow. Take my ignorant self for instance. If I had not stopped watching News on TV and stopped buying newspapers, I would never have heard of this journalist, whom, according to the New Statesman survey — of the 50 heroes of our time,— Pilger came fourth behind Aung San Suu Kyi and Nelson Mandela. “John Pilger,” wrote Harold Pinter, “unearths, with steely attention facts, the filthy truth. I salute him.” Pilger is one of only two to have twice won British journalism’s top award; his documentaries have won academy awards in both the UK and the US, yet his film, unlike Michael Moore’s docudramas, are less familiar.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Pilger

    Now I know for sure, I don’t know squat.

  73. laurence
    September 20th, 2008 at 08:30 | #73

    @Karma

    Yes, it’s of course naive to say that the media simply mediate news, even if that’s their primary function. Any report is involved in narrating a story, and this narration will involve or allude to other narratives that have been generally accepted by the community of readers/viewers.

  74. laurence
    September 20th, 2008 at 08:49 | #74

    @TommyBahamas

    I was specifically referring to the differences between Mainland Chinese and western news media; thus the mention of the article Joel linked to at the top of this page.
    I take your point that any media is rooted in the political, social, and material conditions of its environment, but does this necessarily imply a moral obligation to improve society?

  75. TommyBahamas
    September 20th, 2008 at 09:26 | #75

    And perhaps this idea of the media as a body that has moral obligations to improve society and not merely represent it is, finally, something that is distinctively ‘Chinese’.

    Um, not sure about that being something that is distinctively ‘Chinese’…Like I was trying to show that my Angloamerican friend saw what he wanted to see and was obsessed with it, and managed only in spoiling my enjoyment of an otherwise very well made movie, I thought.

    “differences between Mainland Chinese and western news media…”

    Yes, they are different and the same. I read the Mainstream East/West media with the same attitude as whenever I kick back to enjoy Hollywood’s great creativity in story-telling on film. As with movies like “Saving Private Ryan,” was the media trying to improve society by showing all the graphic grotesque bloody bomb blasted-off limps, severed torsos and spilled guts scenes? If it did, I wonder how much influence it had in lessening wars? Given that it was released about 3 years before the invasion of Iraq, apparently not at all.

  76. Wukailong
    September 20th, 2008 at 11:54 | #76

    @TommyBahamas: “If it did, I wonder how much influence it had in lessening wars? Given that it was released about 3 years before the invasion of Iraq, apparently not at all.”

    When 911 happened I had this feeling that now that a war-like situation has been shown on television all over the globe (all the gore, explosions and debris, as it happened), there would be a strong argument against war. It didn’t even take 3 years to start two new wars, both of them with the same kind of destruction, just on a grander scale.

    On the other hand, the demonstrations against the war in Iraq all over the world heartened me. Something might have changed, after all.

  77. Hongkonger
    September 20th, 2008 at 13:29 | #77

    “On the other hand, the demonstrations against the war in Iraq all over the world heartened me. Something might have changed, after all.”

    Yes, I am with you on that, WKL. The World Can’t Wait (Kick Bush out) anti-war movement and heroes and heroines like Rose Gentle(Not sure how it’s spelled), the socialist British MP George Galloway, the US soldiers that refused to be part of the senseless killings etc. I will sing, shout and do break dance(not that I know how) on the streets of HongKong the day these living plutocratic war-mongers are sentenced to death at the Hague for CRIMES against humanity — FAT effing CHANCE ~ though!

  78. Hongkonger
  79. TonyP4
    September 20th, 2008 at 21:18 | #79

    On 911:
    Let the Jews and the Muslims kill each other in their own part of the world. The more help from outside the region, the closer we’re to WW3. Why the US spends billions not to mention human lives is beyond me. We may not have 911 if we were not the world policeman.

  80. S.K. Cheung
    September 20th, 2008 at 23:43 | #80

    To TonyP4:
    in some way, at some level, I agree with you a little bit. But the ones who do the killing aren’t the run of the mill moms and pops; they’re the ones who aspire to a radical form of Islam. To those folks, we’re all infidels. As long as we don’t subscribe to their world-view, we will always be potential targets. So in that vein, I don’t think a laissez-faire approach works.
    Also, your point implies that the Americans deserved 9/11, or somehow brought it upon themselves. That part I can’t agree with.

  81. TommyBahamas
    September 21st, 2008 at 00:05 | #81

    @SKC,

    NO, the Americans DO NOT deserved 9/11…NOBODY Does…

    This is why AMERICANS & Canadians & the citizens of the World

    are tiredlessly putting two and two together.

    Check this and hundreds of similar findings:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_7Mzm-945c

  82. TonyP4
    September 21st, 2008 at 16:04 | #82

    No one deserves 911. However, my points are:

    * I believe (from my memory) the bible predicted the Jews will be surrounded by the enemies and suffered (would some one verify this statement). If so, I do not want to be dragged along. Localize the suffering and misery.
    * I do not agree with the terrorists. I have to respect the ones using their live for a cause (no matter it is right or not). Every time the US bombs a foreign country, does it raise the resentment (justified or not)?
    * I resent the Jews who influence the Congress to drag us to the middle east problems.
    * I do not know the complicated problems of Iraq, so why should we send our children to be killed over there? Should we have to understand all the problems of the entire world in the first place?
    * How many children of the top government officials died in Iraq or foreign soil for the last 5 years?
    * Should some countries better off with a dictator? Let their own citizens fight for their freedom.
    * Should we spend our money/effort in our economy instead of the billions on Iraq?

  83. RMBWhat
    September 22nd, 2008 at 02:29 | #83

    http://www.ae911truth.org/

    9/11 was an inside job!

    Now, I agree that there is Islamic extremists out there, but my feeling on this is that they are a small number, and that most of these guys are simply being used. I also believe that there are western government agents inside these extremist organizations. That is, the criminal shadowy element is playing both sides to create chaos.

    I mean just look at what is been happening. It’s like it’s all according to a script written by the Bilderberg group. I’m serious man. Leaked info a few years back said that they were planning on imploding the housing and fiancial market, and it IS HAPPENING NOW.

    These kinds of “insider tweaking” has been repeated through history. The elites create chaos and profit from said chaos. It’s problem, reaction, and solution.

    Arghh I give up. There is just too much information to digest just from my little posts. LOL. I know I sound crazy. It’s like one needs a master degree to truly appreciate everything, LOL. But just remember to look behind the spin man. Research it yourselves. Awake my friends!

  84. RMBWhat
    September 22nd, 2008 at 03:18 | #84

    http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=911+in+plain+sight&emb=0&aq=f#

    This is the video linked by TB above.

    LOL. I forgot about the pentagon simulations. I guess the tail was able to transform itself to a different dimension different the collision.

    Funny… HAHAHA.

  85. TommyBahamas
    September 22nd, 2008 at 06:28 | #85

    “It’s problem, reaction, and solution.”

    That’s David Icke’s line. Man, this guy has been lampooned, slandered, renounced….
    as well as enlightening folks worldwide for decades. He is still going strong with his message.
    But I think you are not gonna get much responses or folks to agree with him or you here.

    Oh, BTW, thanks for post this “The Money Masters” link:
    http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=money+masters&emb=0&aq=f#

    I read some articles on the Fed Reserves a couple of years ago. I started talking about it
    and it turned out that a lot of people have heard about it, but it’s like, so, what? There’s really
    nothing we can do about that. Or , “Look, President Bush warned us against Conspiracy theories,
    didn’t he? Bush said, regarding 9/11, “don’t give in to Conspiracy theories.” So, there, for
    f**k’s sake, listen to your (or the US) President~!
    Seriously, I was told the following over two years ago. My pal from USA said to me that unlike corrupt China, the US economic policies have all kinds of very mature & complex checks & balances in place to ensure fair play and sustainability. WHATEVER !
    I agree with whoever said this, “Don’t believe anything from the gov’t until they have been
    officially denied.”

  86. Wukailong
    September 22nd, 2008 at 07:31 | #86

    @TommyBahamas: “That’s David Icke’s line. Man, this guy has been lampooned, slandered, renounced….
    as well as enlightening folks worldwide for decades.”

    How much of his teachings do you believe? Not the part about a group of extraterrestrial lizards controlling mankind, I hope? 🙂

  87. RMBWhat
    September 22nd, 2008 at 07:58 | #87

    Well, yeah, that is a line from David Icke. But I don’t know if I really want to believe that evil lizards are the capstone of the pyramid. That’s a little bit nutty even for me. He is a bit too New Agey for me also.

    I like to digest all the little theories. They are interesting, and I agree with some if not most if and only if they make sense to me. But in the end do I know for sure whether or not the sum of all parts constitute reality… No idea. What this means is I’m not 100% sure. If by 2012 something MAJOR happens, say like another terror (false flag) attack happens and martial law is declared, (basically everything goes to hell, civil war/rioting/troops on the street and my ass is about to get hauled off to some FEMA camp, well, THEN I KNOW SHIT REAL THEN. Haha.

    But one thing I’m POSITIVE ON is the false flag operation that is 9/11. Too many evidences staring me in the face for me to believe that it was NOT an INSIDE JOB.

  88. RMBWhat
    September 22nd, 2008 at 08:17 | #88
  89. September 22nd, 2008 at 08:20 | #89

    @ADMIN

    Help! FM won’t let me unsubscribe from this thread.

    Actually, it won’t let me manage my subscriptions at all, even though I’m logged in. It says: “You may not access this page without a valid key.”

    Please unsub me.

  90. TommyBahamas
    September 22nd, 2008 at 11:20 | #90

    How much of his teachings do you believe? Not the part about a group of extraterrestrial lizards controlling mankind, I hope?

    LOL~!
    WKL, well, some people believe in the rapture, others in everlasting fire that does not consume the human souls of the unredeemed majority. There are evolutionists, creationists, intelligent design advocates, big bang theorists, black holes, worm holes, cladists and nudist colonies. Most believe that the WTC twin towers and building 7 all fell in a controlled demolition manner are normal and that UFOs are weather ballons and optical illusions. What and which of the above do you refuse to think about, subscribe to or as Joel above who can’t seem to unsub? 🙂

  91. TommyBahamas
    September 22nd, 2008 at 12:02 | #91

    Thanks for the way off topic comic relieve. Back on topic. It looks like with the combined efforts of Mr. Li, the BBC, Joel’s posting it, as he declared, for his own cross cultural research purpose , and the active verbose interactions of posters herein and all, seems to me that up to this point have yielded no real answers nor consolidated unanimity in opinions that are not fraud with preconceived ideas, judgementality, presumptions, blurred impressions, eschewed views, discrepancies of informed POVs etc. Nevertheless, it has been fun and I kinda of think that all our minds, well, at least, mine have, I think have been enriched by the experience somehow. Whether be for good or for bad is hard to judge but definitely affected and expanded with these interactions.

  92. September 22nd, 2008 at 13:45 | #92

    @Joel #89:

    Our record shows you are not subscribed to this thread (or you did unsubscribe successfully?). If you still have problems, pls send me an email.

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