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Shanghai-Beijing Bullet Train Western Media Coverage, a case of Journalism vs. Propaganda

Journalism is reporting the facts.  Today, I was curious how the Western media covered the new high speed rail between Shanghai and Beijing had just gone into service. I searched on Google, and the very first two articles I read had already struck me.  One represents what journalism should be and the other was really quite something else.  Kudos to AFP reporter, Allison Jackson, where she wrote, “Beijing-Shanghai high-speed train makes debut.” No kudos, however, to David Pierson of Los Angeles Time, who wrote, “China feeling like No. 1 with a bullet train.” The headline already sounds bitter.  To some, propaganda might be too harsh a description. I simply want to put these two articles side by side and point out the nuttiness.  You decide if I am too hash in my description or not.

(Bold comments in parenthesis are mine.)

Perhaps Pierson’s article might be more appropriately titled, “American reporter not feeling so No. 1 with China’s bullet train.”

Beijing-Shanghai high-speed train makes debut

By Allison Jackson | AFP – Thu, Jun 30, 2011

 

High-speed trains linking Beijing and Shanghai made their passenger debut Thursday on a $33 billion track China hopes will help ease its overloaded transport system. (Fact)

Premier Wen Jiabao declared the link “in operation” at Beijing South rail station before boarding the first sleek-nosed white train that took passengers to Shanghai, the country’s commercial hub, in less than five hours.  (Fact)

He said the high-speed line — launched on the eve of celebrations to mark the 90th birthday of China’s Communist party — would be key to “improving the modern transport system… and satisfying people’s travelling needs”. (Fact)

The line, which has been operating on a trial basis since mid-May, halves the rail journey time between the country’s two main cities and could hurt airlines on the busy route plagued by delays and cancellations. (Fact)

“The high-speed train is fast and more convenient than a plane,” 38-year-old Xu Yuhua told AFP as she waited with her 10-year-old daughter to board the first departure for Shanghai, which left promptly at 3:00 pm (0700 GMT).  (Fact)

Armed police and regular officers were on high alert at the station, where 10 of the gleaming trains were lined up for departure. Excited passengers posed for photographs in front of the locomotive and outside their carriages. (Fact)

The fast link, which has been hit by safety concerns and graft, is opening a year ahead of schedule and will be able to carry 80 million passengers a year — double the current capacity on the 1,318-kilometre (820-mile) route. (Fact)

“It could play a transformational role in shaping the future economic dynamics in coastal China… by creating more spillover effects to regions lying along the sprawling high-speed railway line,” Ren Xianfang, an analyst at IHS Global Insight, told AFP. (Fact)

But for the airline industry, the impact could be “destructive”, she warned. (Fact)

One-way train ticket prices will cost 410-1,750 yuan ($63-$270) subject to further adjustments, vice rail minister Hu Yadong said this month, compared with about 1,300 yuan for a flight. (Fact)

In response, airlines have slashed some prices by up to 65 percent to below the cost of the cheapest high-speed rail ticket, state media said Wednesday, citing travel website ctrip.com. (Fact)

On board, waitresses wearing blue tunics and yellow smiley face badges walked up and down the aisle selling beer, soft drinks and juice — but the beverages ran out two hours before arrival. (Fact)

Supplies of instant noodles and pre-packaged meals were stacked high in the cafe car. (Fact)

A 36-year-old male passenger surnamed Zhang, who was travelling back to Shanghai with colleagues, said he appreciated the extra legroom, noting: “Planes are not as comfortable.” (Fact)

Frederic Campagnac, general manager of transport and logistics consultancy Clevy China, nevertheless believes the fast link will have a positive impact on airlines by forcing operators to be on time. (Fact)

It will “put pressure on the airlines to keep more on their schedule,” Campagnac said. (Fact)

Work on the high-speed railway started in April 2008 with a planned investment of 220.9 billion yuan. (Fact)

China is spending heavily on its high-speed rail network, which spanned 8,358 kilometres at the end of 2010 and is expected to exceed 13,000 kilometres by 2012 and 16,000 kilometres by 2020. (Fact)

But huge investment has also made the sector a hotbed for corruption, raising concerns over costs and safety. (Fact)

China’s state auditor in March said construction companies and individuals last year siphoned off 187 million yuan in funds meant for the Beijing-Shanghai link. (Fact)

The revelation followed the sacking of former railways minister Liu Zhijun in February, who allegedly took more than 800 million yuan in kickbacks over several years on contracts linked to China’s high-speed network. (Fact.  But thinking about it, I think it’s rather impressive China is able to complete such a project of such magnitude with this level of corruption – 1 YEAR AHEAD OF SCHEDULE.)

The railway ministry has said the trains would run between 250 and 300 kilometres per hour on the new link, which is designed for a maximum speed of 380 kph. (Fact)

The speed is in line with a nationwide directive made public in April that said all high-speed trains must run slower than previously announced — no faster than 300 kph — for safety. (Fact)

“I’m not afraid,” a 30-year-old woman from Shanghai surnamed Wen told AFP, as the train accelerated to top speed, whizzing past factories, high-rise apartment buildings, and vast farmlands where peasants worked in the fields. (Fact)

“The ticket is a little bit expensive but I think the train is more stable than a plane.” (Fact)

Urban areas within 300 to 400 kilometres of Beijing and Shanghai “will become kind of suburbs to the big cities” because it will be possible to do a return trip in one day, Campagnac said. (Fact)

“All the cities on the way will benefit from the line,” he added. (Fact)

 

China feeling like No. 1 with a bullet train

A high-profile stretch of the high-speed rail system opens, an event meant to showcase national achievement as the Chinese Communist Party marks its 90th birthday. But there’s been some controversial baggage to handle along the way.

June 30, 2011|By David Pierson, Los Angeles Time

It’s the fastest thing on land with a “Made in China” label — a bullet train that speeds past unfinished suburbs and broken farmhouses at nearly 200 mph between Beijing and Shanghai in a blur of national pride.  (Propaganda.  ‘unfinished suburbs and broken farmhouses . . . a blur of national pride?’  How about infrastructure investments just make sense?)

Opened to the public Thursday, the landmark line connects China’s two biggest cities and is meant to showcase the country’s innovative muscle and give the Chinese Communist Party a shot of legitimacy as it celebrates its 90th birthday. (Propaganda.  Pierson might want to look up PEW and their latest government approval ratings poll.  Following his nutty logic, he might be more correct to want the Democratic and the Republican parties abolished and booted out of the country for the unending budget crisis at federal and state levels.)

In a nation obsessed with feats of engineering such as the Three Gorges Dam and the world’s longest sea bridge (also unveiled Thursday), the national high-speed rail network is something akin to the U.S. space program.  (Propaganda.  ‘obsessed?’  Certainly not more so than the Americans.  Let’s just say we are humans and we all are obsessed with progress.)

“This has become a matter of national face,” said Zhou Xiaozheng, a professor of sociology at People’s University in Beijing. “We love building gigantic projects.”  (Fact)

But it hasn’t always been a smooth ride for the $32.5-billion project, which has become a controversial symbol in the country’s growing divide between rich and poor. (Propaganda.  The project will benefit the rich and the poor alike.  Lower tier cities along the rail line already have their real estate property prices dragged way up.)

Criticism abounds, mostly online, over the project’s whopping price tag and the steep cost of tickets. The cheapest fare for the Beijing-Shanghai line is $86, equivalent to one-tenth of an average urbanite’s monthly salary. And doubts have even been raised over that “Made in China” label.  (Propaganda.  Each sentence sounds factual, but the narrative is propagandistic.  Criticism is also abound for airplane ticket prices too.  Nevertheless, the bullet trains are filled to capacity and each day there are tons of trains going between the cities.  To say that many Chinese can’t afford ticket prices in this context is propaganda.  Implying the train is stealing foreign technology is propaganda, especially when Pierson provided ZERO fact backing it up.)

But China’s leaders say they’ve opened up a crucial artery that will expand the flow of people and commerce between the country’s two most important engines — one its political center, the other its commercial heart. (Fact )

China’s overtaxed transportation system, namely rail, has long been cited as a barrier to economic growth. Although its efficiency can be debated, Beijing has demonstrated time and again that it’s willing to spend massive amounts of money to ensure it has the infrastructure to move the country forward. (Fact)

The Beijing-Shanghai line is now the crown jewel of a system that already stretches nearly 5,000 miles. The plan is to double the size of the network by 2020, taking riders everywhere from the southern factory hub of Guangzhou to the frosty northern outpost of Harbin to the western frontier city of Urumqi. (Fact)

The sleek blue-and-white trains known as the Harmony Express take less than five hours to commute from Beijing South Railway Station to Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station, an 800-mile journey that crosses the same distance as a trip from Los Angeles to Albuquerque but takes more than three times as long on Amtrak. (Fact)

“I want to know what it feels like to go 300 kilometers [186 miles] an hour,” said Li Zhongxin, 40, who canceled his plans to fly to Shanghai when he learned the high-speed line was opening and bought a $165 one-way rail ticket instead. “Maybe I’ll give up flying altogether.” (Fact)

Ninety trips in each direction are scheduled daily in a trip so steady that beverages on board barely register a ripple. China Central Television proved the point by standing a cigarette upright on a train’s window ledge. (Although the most groundbreaking aspect of the train may actually be that it’s all nonsmoking, a huge leap for a country where it’s fine to puff away in a hospital.) (Fact)

The mega-project was marred by a major corruption scandal in February that led to the dismissal of Railway Minister Liu Zhijun, a powerful apparatchik who boasted of how quickly the system was being built and how little the Chinese were relying on foreign expertise. (Propaganda.  ‘a powerful apparatchik?’  ‘boasted of how quickly the system was being built?’  By the way, the railway system was built 1 year ahead of schedule!)

Liu was accused in local news reports of taking $125 million in kickbacks that allegedly led to shoddy construction and safety hazards, including on the Beijing-Shanghai corridor. (Fact)

The controversy was heightened when Zhou Yimin, a former lieutenant of Liu’s, said in media interviews last week that the former chief wanted to push the trains faster than they were capable of going. (Fact) (Update: see jxie comment below.)

Zhou, who has left the Rail Ministry, said the trains owed more to European and Japanese engineering than Chinese, and also worried the project was being constructed dangerously fast. (Propaganda.  Show me a quote.)

“Most of the high-speed trains in other countries need three to five years of testing before being operational commercially,” he told the 21st Century Business Herald. “But what about our [trains]? The project was only 1 to 2 years old, and it already went into mass production.” (Fact)

Current officials have dismissed the concerns, but skepticism ran high in April when the ministry announced it would reduce the train speeds from as much as 236 mph to cut costs for passengers and increase safety. The reduction meant the trains would run no faster than their Japanese and European counterparts. (Propaganda.  Nothing wrong with each sentence per se, but the narrative just sounds propagandistic.  )

While critics joked that China was taking the speed out of high-speed rail, some scholars and economists maintained that the sprawling system would provide immediate benefits to the country. (Propagandistic narrative.  ‘critics’ and ‘some scholars and economists’ are given equal weight.  I guess this reporter simply does not want to agree this high speed rail is a good thing?)

For one, commerce will flow faster and more freely between nearby cities, especially urban centers in the isolated west. The high-speed trains would also free up space on traditional tracks, providing an additional 50 million tons of badly needed freight capacity each year. Adding more room for passengers is also welcome in a country that seizes up with congestion during its national holidays. (Fact)

“This will be a boon for the economy,” said Guo Xiucheng, a transportation expert at Southeast University in Nanjing. “The volume of capital moving across China will now be greatly improved.” (Fact)

At the Beijing South station Thursday afternoon, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao delivered a speech and boarded the first train for Shanghai, the “G1” that left at 3 p.m. Police and media swarmed the cavernous station. A local television team provided a live broadcast from inside the train. (Fact)

Tao Yu, a computer technician from Shanghai waiting to board the train, was getting into the patriotic spirit. (Fact)

“I’m very proud because it’s our technology,” said Tao, 37, dragging a suitcase on wheels. “Some say it’s German or Japanese technology, but all these trains look the same. This one’s ours.” (Fact)

National duty aside, Tao, a regular commuter between the two cities, said he had a very practical reason for taking the train. (Fact)

“I’m so scared of flying,” he said. “I hate turbulence. People are meant to be on the ground.” (Fact)

david.pierson@latimes.com

Nicole Liu and Tommy Yang in The Times’ Beijing bureau contributed to this report.

 

  1. Danny
    July 2nd, 2011 at 10:36 | #1

    Agreed on all counts. But what can you do? Its common knowledge that most American newspapers are biased against all things China due to some strange combination of fear, condescension, and ignorance. There’s not much the Chinese can do about it. China is too big and moving too fast for Americans to feel comfortable about it. All that the Chinese can do about it is to keep their heads down, ignore the noise, and keep moving forwards.

  2. July 2nd, 2011 at 11:05 | #2

    @Danny
    I generally agree with you.

    1. For the Chinese, I also think the mainstream Western media have little credibility now; not a surprise anti-CNN has millions of readers. (Actually, they have become a much more serious web site: http://www.m4.cn/)

    2. For the Westerners, their media are doing a real disservice to them. Western societies are being polarized to extremes and are increasingly becoming paralyzed on domestic issues. On the international front, they continue to support dropping bombs on other people. Look at Libya for example.

    In both of the cases above, I think media criticism must continue. Their propagandistic ways should not continue. They should do real journalism, because that is their real responsibility.

  3. jxie
    July 2nd, 2011 at 11:25 | #3

    The controversy was heightened when Zhou Yimin, a former lieutenant of Liu’s, said in media interviews last week that the former chief wanted to push the trains faster than they were capable of going. (Fact)

    Actually this is factually incorrect. Zhou (周翊民) retired in 2001 and Liu didn’t take the helm of the Minster of Railways until 2003. Zhou was never a “lieutenant” of Liu.

    Opinions on a lot of domestic issues in China are quite diverse, often more so than in the US. Zhou’s statements were reported and widely discussed in China. Let me just be cherishing and assume he was a good engineer at one point; 10 years of retirement really have made him rusty. There are certain opinions from some naysayers that you should pay attention to, but Zhou’s is for sure not one.

    Zhou’s career peaked at the late 1990s, which was quite a different era then. The age group that should’ve assumed the technical leadership role in the society lacked college education due to the CR. Most of the older scientists and engineers weren’t very good and the younger ones were still relatively green. Their plan then was not unlike what Taiwan did to the HSR, which was basically paying a very high premium to become a version of Shinkansen.

    When Liu became the Minister of Railways, it’s not Liu per se but rather a whole generation of scientists and engineers at their 30s and 40s, took a look at what Japan/France/Germany had to offer in HSR techs, and decided that they could do better with a combination of technical acquisitions, and their own improvements. If you get down to the nitty-gritty, the tech specs of the trains, the tracks, and the overhead power lines, the tunnels, etc. are superior to their Japanese and European counterparts. BTW, nowadays you don’t see the major Western news outlets get down to the nitty-gritty to give readers the technical specs, which more or less show the sorry state of the general public education system.

    Financially maybe some other lines are dubious, but the Shanghai-Beijing line will be all but certain hugely profitable. The Guangzhou-Wuhai line’s run-rate annual passenger count is at about 30 million, which means the line is profitable after interest, but before depreciation and amortization. The forecast of the Shanghai-Beijing line passenger count is double of that, at 60 million, which means the line will be profitable the first year after interest, depreciation and amortization. For an infrastructure project, that’s in a stratosphere of its own in terms of financial viability.

  4. xian
    July 2nd, 2011 at 14:33 | #4

    I see your point, but propaganda is too strong a word IMO. You can’t just label it that because it doesn’t sound flattering.

    What the LA Times writes have some basis in truth, but is given undue weight to give an impression of representing “good” and “bad” sides and/or adhering to the narrative most Americans believe when it comes to China. The train probably does speed by unfinished surburbs. The project probably does give the CCP a “shot of legitimacy”, even if they don’t need it anymore. A FEW people might complain about its prices, or how it symbolizes the rich-poor divide. Maybe some people don’t like the lowered speed limit, maybe they want it to be the fastest. It most likely did copy some technology from HSR systems in other countries, why would you start from scratch when someone already has it? There’s nothing wrong with being “obsessed” with engineering feats, and so on.

    Ultimately it comes down to wording, selective reporting, overemphasis/underemphasis to create an impression beyond the facts its reporting. Basically, the same media antics used all over the world, and it probably won’t change anytime soon.

  5. July 2nd, 2011 at 18:38 | #5

    Hi yinyang, just wanted you to know that the title for the LA Times piece is a takeoff of an American expression, “Number one with a bullet” that is used in the music industry, specifically Billboard. The title writers are different from the article authors in American newspapers; their job is to write catchy headlines. The headline isn’t bitter at all, it’s actually quite clever. The article itself can be subject to criticism but I wouldn’t worry so much about the headline.

  6. July 3rd, 2011 at 00:37 | #6

    @jxie
    Thank you very much for providing that background. I’ve updated the post to direct readers to your comment on Zhou Yimin.

    @xian
    Appreciate your perspective. My key issue is all these ‘probablies.’ Then that is not journalism anymore. If Pierson wants the ‘legitimacy’ angle, then he ought to get a quote from the Chinese government the reason they built this high speed rail was due to legitimacy concerns – or show some other facts to support.

    @Steve
    It’s been a while. How have you been?

    I didn’t know about “Number one with a bullet” was used in the music industry’s billboarding. Perhaps you are right about it being a ‘clever’ headlining.

    But it’s not an either-or type of thing between clever headlining and not something else in addition.

    The title goes with the article, after all. It would be funny if your supposedly catchy headline writer doesn’t read the article itself. The title came from Pierson himself, an editor, or a headline writer if there is such a person.

    The Chinese government and the people certainly are proud of the Shanghai-Beijing high speed rail. That in it of itself makes them feeling number one? I don’t think so. That speaks of the bitterness in the article and the author more than anything else.

  7. wwww1234
    July 3rd, 2011 at 08:47 | #7

    this is a rebuttal on Zhou Yimin’s allegation.
    http://lt.cjdby.net/thread-1171325-1-1.html

  8. raffiaflower
    July 3rd, 2011 at 09:24 | #8

    The article appears on track with solid facts and the writer attempts to add some background noise with the “dubious” claims as you hi-lite. A phrase like `blur of national pride’ suggests that China’s HSR is primarily a prestige project,when its economic benefits are tangible.
    Whether the mischief is intentional or from ignorance/stereotype of a `totalitarian’ country is a point of distinction.
    Perhaps the journalist has a liberal tendency against big government of any kind already and this distaste informs his writing.
    Overall, the article underscores the point that China is a high-achiever nation. This is a giant in a hurry, and the HSR is symbolic of its agility.

  9. Rhan
    July 3rd, 2011 at 17:51 | #9

    “….which has become a controversial symbol in the country’s growing divide between rich and poor. (Propaganda. The project will benefit the rich and the poor alike…..”

    If China and Chinese perceive themselves to be a socialism society, a public transport that is beyond the reach of the poor does imply the growing divide between rich and poor, I don’t see this as propaganda.

    Just curious, is rail and train project in China privately own (privatise) or held by government? Does government subsidise the ticket price or they let the market to dictate the “reasonable” pricing?

  10. zack
    July 3rd, 2011 at 20:10 | #10

    good work, yinyang; love the side by side comparisons
    to say you’ve hit the nail on the head would be a gross understatement.

  11. July 3rd, 2011 at 20:24 | #11

    @YinYang,

    Thanks for this very well thought-out post. I have no idea what Steve is talking about Number One with Bullet thing, I certainly haven’t heard of it, and I don’t think anyone reading would associate this piece with music.

    I remember some time ago Steve had an outburst when I used the title Glorious China we Trust in a post (I can dig up all the glory details in the emails if needed) – when I was obviously only playing off a pun off “In God we Trust” printed on American money – not to mock Christianity. I guess association is what people want to make of it. But the way Steve defends this article is a little asinine. I guess someone can point a gun up your head and threaten you until you pee in your pants and back off and say, come on, there was nothing meant by it, it reminds him of – was just a play off – a children’s game he used to play – don’t take it so seriously… Association is what you make of it, after all.

  12. July 3rd, 2011 at 21:47 | #12

    “With A Bullet – Attaining a position with noteworthy speed.

    Originates from Billboard Magazine’s practice of putting a bullet sign in front of chart entries that have moved from one position to another with notable speed.”

    Allen, I used to work in the music business when I was younger. Your rant was childish and uncalled for. I didn’t defend the article or criticize yinyang (“The article itself can be subject to criticism”), I just explained where the headline writer got the title and yes, newspapers have headline writers, look it up. Your critique says more about yourself than about what I wrote. If you don’t want me to comment on your blog, fine, I won’t. I get the hint, I’m not welcome.

  13. pug_ster
    July 3rd, 2011 at 22:46 | #13

    I do agree with Steve on this one. The AFP article is a basic rehashed article where many other media organizations just reprint it. The author of the LA Times article is more like a creative writer rather than a journalist. Catchy headline without any fact checking so that they can catch more eyeballs. Looks like it worked.

  14. kvs
    July 3rd, 2011 at 23:55 | #14

    I have to say, the reference to “No. 1 with a bullet” made perfect sense to me. I am also familiar with the role of a headline writer (a member of my family was recently working in the newspaper business in Australia). Though I don’t know if they’re universal (there are likely some writers out there who write their own headlines).

    So I don’t find it hard to believe that a headline writer associated “with a bullet” with a fast train. There is perhaps some conflation of cultural references there, since the “bullet train” is the Shinkansen of Japan (I don’t think Chinese high speed trains are called “bullet trains”).

    But the headline writers are more about grabbing eyeballs than they are about accurately reflecting the contents of the story.

  15. July 4th, 2011 at 00:48 | #15

    @wwww1234
    Thx for the link. Until jxie shared background on Zhou Yimin, I had no idea.

    @raffiaflower
    I agree with your take. Compared to the NYT’s story about ‘jasmine ban’ in China, this LA Times articles is rather tame.

    But, it was still such a huge contrast between an article of real journalistic integrity, I wanted readers to see the glaring difference.

    @Rhan

    It is not as simple as that. Shoddy and propagandistic journalism wants readers to dumb down and draw wild conclusions.

    Distribution of wealth is one issue and the pricing of the train tickets is another.

    Ticket prices are determined based on what the Shanghai-Beijing route would bear.

    In order for Pierson’s logic to hold water, he might try arguing more and more Chinese won’t be able to afford that train ticket. In fact, with China’s growth, we expect more and more Chinese able to afford riding such trains.

    Would you then say there is a shrinking divide between rich and poor? You wouldn’t, and that’s because they are separate issues.

    Which ‘socialist’ society thinks every single home needs to be priced the same such that the poorest can afford one too? In fact, many Chinese might tell you China is more capitalistic than the U.S. today.

    @zack

    thx.

    @Allen

    Agreed on your take.

    @Steve

    I think Allen would welcome your comments here. I’ll say interesting background. I hope we chalk this up as one of those off with the wrong footing.

    As I said, the title and the article go hand in hand. Clever headlining or not, the end product is crappy journalism just the same; from the institution of the LA Times.

    @pug_ster
    LA Times is not viewed by Americans as a “creative writing” organization. Itself does not say it is not a journalism outfit.

    Remember that famed American journalist icon, Daniel Schorr, once dared all news organizations in America to be ‘boring.’ The whole point is that journalism should be reporting only facts. The American society was envisioned to function with that piece of the puzzle working in that particular way. (At least I think so. I think most Americans would agree too.)

    When objective fact is no longer the goal of news media, then I don’t see how the American public can properly participate in a democracy.

    By the way, the AFP is not necessarily a gold standard of journalism. Allison Jackson deserves kudos for her piece. I have seen articles from the AFP of this same Pierson variety.

  16. July 4th, 2011 at 00:55 | #16

    @kvs
    LOL. I am just thinking – great, the article itself is screwed up, and that’s not enough; the headline is systematically screwed too!

  17. July 4th, 2011 at 06:03 | #17

    Not sure if you caught it, but I saw the report on NBC Nightly News–brief factual info and then a comparison to US trains and infrastructure, basically shaming the US for not having a better a rail system. As a side note, I hate the trains in the US. They’re expensive and take twice as long as driving (unless you take the ONE high speed train between Boston and DC).

  18. July 4th, 2011 at 07:50 | #18

    @Steve #12,

    You wrote:

    Allen, I used to work in the music business when I was younger. Your rant was childish and uncalled for. I didn’t defend the article or criticize yinyang (“The article itself can be subject to criticism”), I just explained where the headline writer got the title and yes, newspapers have headline writers, look it up. Your critique says more about yourself than about what I wrote. If you don’t want me to comment on your blog, fine, I won’t. I get the hint, I’m not welcome.

    So you used to work in music and now knows exactly where this writer got his headline from. Do you really know where he got his headline from? Have you talked to the writer about it? Even if the writer did innocently use a title that can be mis-interpreted, does not yinyang (and I) have a legitimate interest in pointing out a title – especially when considered with the rest of the article that is clearly biased – that serves to antagonize rather than report?

    You are the one who got all riled up about my headline titles a while ago – and you got riled up even after you had access to the author – me – and I told you where I got my headline from.

    Want to talk about being childish?

  19. July 4th, 2011 at 08:43 | #19

    For everyone:

    One key point, in my opinion, of our work here is to try to disentangle facts from one’s version of the truth. What is especially difficult is trying to disentangle one’s plausible version of the truth – a truth arising from one’s ideological perspective – from facts. At least that’s the soft version. The hard version is trying to reveal the perpetration of plausible truth in furtherance of political ends that perpetuate many unjust aspects the current world order – that promote war rather than peace. We call such perpetration “propaganda” – even though we fully understand that in the West, people prefer to relegate “propaganda” to government sponsored perpetration, calling the rest “spins.” We personally don’t see the need for such discrimination. Political “spins” – especially carried out consistently and pervasively on a population that is neither educated nor vigilant about world affairs but that gladly “votes” (enables political actions to be taken) based on ignorance – is probably the supreme form of “propaganda.” yinyang has pointed out just a very small (and in the overall scheme relatively insignificant) instance of such.

  20. Common Tater
    July 4th, 2011 at 18:37 | #20

    Danny :
    Agreed on all counts. But what can you do? Its common knowledge that most American newspapers are biased against all things China due to some strange combination of fear, condescension, and ignorance. There’s not much the Chinese can do about it. China is too big and moving too fast for Americans to feel comfortable about it. All that the Chinese can do about it is to keep their heads down, ignore the noise, and keep moving forwards.

    Oh, it’s “common knowledge” is it? That’s convenient then: you don’t have to do anything at all to support the statement. After all, you’re part of the Nationalist crowd, so just say what you feel like about the West, without reflection.

  21. Common Tater
    July 4th, 2011 at 18:50 | #21

    @ yinyang:

    I think your analysis is quite interesting. But one of your premises is a bit off, IMHO. You start by saying that, “Journalism is reporting the facts.” Clearly that’s its main job, but not everything. There is also opinion, personal experience and analysis.

    You call the Pierson article propaganda, which Merriam Webster defines as “the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person.” In modern usage, propaganda is usually associated with a national government.

    So, you seem to be saying that Pierson’s article is a deliberate slur by forces unknown – Pierson is just one man, and we don’t think of propaganda as being a personal thing – to make China look bad?

    If so, you are using facts and the concept of factuality vs BS to make totally unsupported insinuations. All you have shown us is a biased and somewhat knee-jerk Sino-skeptic analysis of the bullet train politics / economics. This is hardly propaganda, but I know that word sounds cooler for your own biased and somewhat knee-jerk skeptical analysis!

  22. July 4th, 2011 at 23:35 | #22

    @Common Tater
    Let me throw back at you what you wrote above at Danny, with one minor change:

    Oh, it’s “biased and somewhat knee-jerk skeptical analysis” is it? That’s convenient then: you don’t have to do anything at all to support the statement. After all, you’re part of the Nationalist crowd, so just say what you feel like about the West, without reflection.

    Allow me to quote myself:

    @raffiaflower
    I agree with your take. Compared to the NYT’s story about ‘jasmine ban’ in China, this LA Times articles is rather tame.

    But, it was still such a huge contrast between an article of real journalistic integrity, I wanted readers to see the glaring difference.

    And allow me to quote Allen – who wrote the following right above your comment:

    For everyone:
    One key point, in my opinion, of our work here is to try to disentangle facts from one’s version of the truth. What is especially difficult is trying to disentangle one’s plausible version of the truth – a truth arising from one’s ideological perspective – from facts. At least that’s the soft version. The hard version is trying to reveal the perpetration of plausible truth in furtherance of political ends that perpetuate many unjust aspects the current world order – that promote war rather than peace. We call such perpetration “propaganda” – even though we fully understand that in the West, people prefer to relegate “propaganda” to government sponsored perpetration, calling the rest “spins.” We personally don’t see the need for such discrimination. Political “spins” – especially carried out consistently and pervasively on a population that is neither educated nor vigilant about world affairs but that gladly “votes” (enables political actions to be taken) based on ignorance – is probably the supreme form of “propaganda.” yinyang has pointed out just a very small (and in the overall scheme relatively insignificant) instance of such.

    If we want our discussion to be fruitful, then I hope you will take the time to read what people have written.

    Let’s try another way.

    You cite one of the non-facts above in Pierson’s article and explain why you think I am wrong.

  23. July 5th, 2011 at 00:04 | #23

    @ChinaMatt
    I wonder if you had thought NBC Nightly News “basically shaming the US for not having a better a rail system” was driven partly by contempt for China. If the U.S. is supposed to be god-given #1, and the Chinese are condemned to forever be lesser, then whenever the Chinese excels, it’s narrated as a ‘shame’ to the U.S..

    If I am an editor at the NBC Nightly News, I’d take a sincere look at why the U.S. is not capable of building such high-speed rails (look, it wouldn’t be due to technology but to politics) or simply explain why it doesn’t make sense for the U.S. to build in the first place. The goal of the program should seek to educate and explain truth foremost.

  24. raventhorn2000
    July 5th, 2011 at 05:37 | #24

    After all, Pierson is a part of the Nationalist crowd, so just say what you feel like about China, without reflection.

    That’s why it’s propaganda.

  25. Rhan
    July 5th, 2011 at 05:49 | #25

    Hi yinyang,

    The reason why I said it is not propaganda because I share the same sentiment, I believe the bullet train does symbolize growing divide between rich and poor, and surprisingly my contention is as what you claim, China is more capitalistic than US today and I don’t think we can deny the fact that capitalism has the tendency to widen the gap between rich and poor.

    Beside taxation, the government can help the poor via lower cost of living particularly in area like public school and public transport, my question is how a elite school or bullet train that demand exorbitant fees help to alleviate the emotion that there is growing gap? I don’t think China and Chinese major issue is the yearning of democracy, what the people want is fair and justice, not something like you can have everything because you are rich or you are smart or you are somebody. I asked my cousin in Jiujiang Guangzhou why he has two kids, he said they can have a second or third or fourth kid in Hong Kong or overseas as long as they could afford it. What do you think I would do if I am the poor? I would either aspire to be rich or I look around for a Mao Zedong. I hope I am wrong of the latter.

    I guess if we are both Chinese, you will be a rightist and I am a leftist, fundamentally our thinking are very much difference, we agree to disagree on this.

  26. raventhorn2000
    July 5th, 2011 at 06:07 | #26

    Rhan,

    If I may interject, I think people generalize too much about China’s “Capitalism”, and not enough about China’s pragmatism.

    While Capitalism in its purest form does tend to increase economic disparity, China’s lessons with its Communist revolution does not mean that the CCP will forget and abandon its socialist roots.

    The CCP knows its own birth was rooted from the sentiments of economic disparity.

    While the CCP knows to cater to a class of privileged to get what it needs done in the country, it also knows that the Elites historically were the troublemakers.

    As I have said in the past, the Rich should realize that their privileges can be easily taken away, if they abuse their privileges too much, and do not benefit the People in the long run.

    In the eyes of a pragmatic government, the Rich are merely economic live stock, if too fattened, then ready for the slaughter.

  27. Common Tater
    July 5th, 2011 at 07:13 | #27

    @YinYang:

    My point is that you say that the Pierson piece is propaganda, rather than poor journalism.

    Do you deny that the word “propaganda” is loaded term? It is often used to attack Chinese reports or opinion statements about the West, with the connotation that government agencies, zealous nationalists and wu mao falsely accuse Western leaders or sages of trying to impugn or curtail China, out of fear or enmity. So, you’re slinging it back at the West in English. Cool. But you still have an intellectual responsibility to be accurate, no? Hence, why use the word propaganda? Why not just say it’s shitty journalism from some overly skeptical guy? Who are the anti-China forces here, or is it just one guy trying to ride on Sinophobic views to make his article popular? That’s my main point, and I’d appreciate your response to it.

    BTW, quoting your blog partner as an intellectual source on the meaning or propaganda is hardly objective or convincing. Use words the way they actually mean to people, not as what you think they should mean. Otherwise you are twisting meaning within the actual transaction of communication. If you want to redefine propaganda, then you need a heck of a lot more than some tag team with your buddy.

    Secondly, I made a point about journalism encompassing opinion and analysis as well as just reporting. I think you should address this, to clear up this false dichotomy between being factual and making propaganda.

    As to your overall analysis, I think it is interesting. It has value, unfortunately lessened by the above mentioned weaknesses.

    But I am not saying that it’s a bad post.

    Just as the Pierson piece was not terrible either, just flawed in a similar way to yours.

  28. raventhorn2000
    July 5th, 2011 at 09:04 | #28

    “So, you’re slinging it back at the West in English.”

    Is it not propaganda to start with to use such loaded terms as “blur of national pride” from Pierson?

    Pierson is accusing Chinese railroad builders of “blur of national pride”.

    I think “propaganda” is pretty accurate.

    “Poor journalism” would not bring such nationalistic verbage into news reports.

    If Chinese railroads are so nationalistic symbols to Pierson, we can clearly see his nationalistic political agenda.

    (Point in fact: Chinese also help built the US transcontinental railroad system, is that a “blur of national pride” for China according to Pierson?)

  29. raventhorn2000
    July 5th, 2011 at 09:35 | #29

    Some would simply see a high-speed rail system as a simple sign of necessity and economic development.

    Others would see it as a “blur of national pride”, or a “shame”, or even yet another sign of a “threat”.

    Then I ask, how should the world see US’s unbridled continued out spending of $Trillions on its military in many wars, in the face of its own economic recession and high jobless rate?!

    If there is any “pride” to be had in a high-speed rail system, it is a pride of knowledge that at least the money was spent on making people’s lives easier in getting from Point A to Point B, (NOT on getting MORE people from the living to the After life.)

    It’s a pride of the Living, not a pride in the art of Death.

  30. raventhorn2000
    July 5th, 2011 at 09:49 | #30

    By the same token, Chinese fishing vessels are seen as “use of force”, and yet, US military surveillance planes and Japanese Coast Guard vessels are by contrast “freedom of navigation”.

    Only a truly demented Nationalistic Paranoid mind can say with a straight face that they feel Nationalistic threats from fishing vessels.

    That’s akin to an irrational fear of water or fear of a bluntly shaped eraser. Frankly, I would say it’s either a case of rabies or spoon-fed nationalistic brainwashing.

  31. raventhorn2000
    July 5th, 2011 at 10:10 | #31

    And for the record, it is also common knowledge (without requiring too much evidence), that “Bullet Trains” are so termed as metaphorically being fast as speeding bullets, NOT because they are trains that carry bullets or can shoot bullets.

    So to clear that up right now, to avoid more future “poor journalism”.

    (Then again, no one can predict what these “poor journalists” will imagine next as “blur of national pride”. Perhaps Chinese are all eating rice too much, or chewing too loudly as a sign of “national pride”.)

    (An error of opinion may be poor journalism, repeating the error is a pattern, cheering the error is deliberate propaganda.)

  32. July 5th, 2011 at 10:26 | #32

    @Common Tater
    Look, you are still trying to dance around with words.

    Take up on the last sentence in my comment to you above.

    You cite one of the non-facts above in Pierson’s article and explain why you think I am wrong.

    I am not sure how else to get through to you. A mob lynches a Black man to death. The Blacks are crying racism. Yeah, I get it, there are those who want to label the mob as simple criminals and not ‘racists.’

    And there we are, the gap between you and I.

    Feel free to read raventhorn2000’s points too.

    But if you have an idea on how we narrow our ‘gap,’ feel free to suggest. I certainly welcome your presence here. I hope you will see a pattern over time as we reveal more of this ‘propaganda’ (I know for now you prefer ‘shitty journalism.’)

  33. July 5th, 2011 at 11:00 | #33

    @Rhan
    Thanks for elaborating.

    I guess if we are both Chinese, you will be a rightist and I am a leftist, fundamentally our thinking are very much difference, we agree to disagree on this.

    Indeed, my view of a closing the gap between the rich and poor at this stage in China’s development is to ‘grow.’ The whole country is still dirt poor, and capitalism with a stable government is lifting the entire populace. Wealth distribution is an important issue, but in my mind, at this stage a secondary one.

    The effects of continuing to lift hundreds of millions of people out of abject poverty is going to be much bigger than re-dividing the wealth between the rich and the poor.

    So, I get it – there are those like you who thinks wealth distribution has to be more even in that growth and is a paramount priority today.

    As we know, it is not a either or. The government is building affordable housing, limiting number of homes people can buy (i.e. restricting the rich from hording housing), expanding health care coverage, and so forth.

    I have no qualms with people criticizing China out of genuine desire for things to be better for the Chinese people.

  34. raventhorn2000
    July 5th, 2011 at 11:50 | #34

    Ever notice how Western medias are always excusing themselves as having “poor journalism”, but turn around and accuse the Chinese journalists as being “government mouth pieces”?

    Fox always excuses its “journalists” as merely being “fair and balanced”, but as we all know it merely as “revenge bias”.

    I guess it’s the same old “pass the buck”, from government to the journalists to the People, round and round it goes.

    Doesn’t that chestnut get old?

  35. ltlee
    July 5th, 2011 at 12:23 | #35

    @xian
    “Propaganda” is the right word given the many unfounded and misleading attributions in the LA Times article. And it is not journalism. The only viable defense is that propaganda is the norm in western media. And the western presses exist to sell papers and advertisements and not to inform the people.

  36. raventhorn2000
    July 5th, 2011 at 13:18 | #36

    @ltlee

    Better yet, it’s “propaganda for profit”, or Nationalism and Greed, or Fox News + Inc., or Patriotism Steroid Pusher.

  37. Chinawatcher
    July 5th, 2011 at 20:43 | #37

    Looks to me that you’ve missed the foundational difference between a wire service (which perforce has to stick to “just the facts, ma’am’) and a newspaper feature (which perforce has to add go beyond just the facts and provide angles/colour that its primary target audience can relate to – and provide a descrptive narrative that its reader can identify with).
    Once you understand that difference, your core argument (that the LA Times piece is propaganda) is vaporised.
    This is a classic example of how China apologists, who can tolerate Chinese media propaganda 24 x 7 and not flinch, become “right wroth and sore angered” with Western media coverage – because they don’t know the difference between wire service reportage and a feature story. Pathetic!

  38. July 5th, 2011 at 21:00 | #38

    @Chinawatch #37,

    If I understand you right: unless something is in wire service, expect the standard news fare published in Western media – from L.A. Times to N.Y. Times – to be imbued with propaganda that soothes the soul? (By the way, the myopic, falsified perspective that soothes the soul is what we are calling out as propaganda here).

    Also – can you give a list of wire services that are supposed to give objective, facts only news? I assume you mean ap, reuters, what else? My gut feeling is that we will be able to find stories there that are just as corrupt and biased as this one. Heck, AFP itself (from which the objective story is sourced from) is often filled with biased stories.

    Or perhaps just maybe, you can enlighten me to news sources that provide standard, objective reporting here in the West!

  39. pug_ster
    July 6th, 2011 at 04:09 | #39

    @Chinawatcher

    a newspaper feature (which perforce has to add go beyond just the facts and provide angles/colour that its primary target audience can relate to

    Gees, isn’t that propaganda? While the Chinese ‘propaganda’ does provide its distinct angle, it usually does it in the opinions area. However, this LA times article is not in the opinions area.

  40. Common Tater
    July 6th, 2011 at 05:16 | #40

    @YinYang

    So, you think misnaming something is OK, calling slightly bad journalism “propaganda”, but if I persist in pointing that out, that is “dancing around with words? That’s male cow poop, my friend! You’re the one dancing here.

    And no, I don’t have to read everything all your sycophants have written in order to have the right or ability to make relevant remarks to the author of a post.

    Are you saying that the Pierson article was “propaganda” or not? If not, then apologize for misnaming it.

    If so, then why is your definition so different from the way it is commonly used, i.e. organized groups trying to affect public opinion through deliberate manipulation or distortion of information?

    Please answer for yourself, or at least reference reputable sources, rather than just your cronies. I am talking to you, about your post, not them.

  41. Common Tater
    July 6th, 2011 at 05:19 | #41

    @ltlee

    Summary of your post: “Rant! Rant! Rant! The West is evil!”

    You guys have been exposed to too much propaganda – real propaganda – to even begin to grasp the diversity of the West. You can only see the enemy, because you don’t want a friend.

    For example, there are two pieces highlighted in the OP. One pretty positive, one a bit snide and negative. Both are examples of Western journalism. What is the reaction from this crowd: This proves the Western media is propaganda!

    That’s pathetic guys. It proves the Western media has huge diversity. Some of it is very pro-China, some against it, some trying to be neutral.

    That is hardly propaganda. Now, if you want propaganda, you guys know where to look for it: back home in China.

  42. raventhorn2000
    July 6th, 2011 at 05:23 | #42

    http://www.truth-out.org/14-propaganda-techniques-fox-news-uses-brainwash-americans/1309612678

    Good analysis of Free media by free media, Except every 1 of her 14 points also equally applicable to non-Fox news.

    @Common Tater

    Summary of your post: “I don’t want to hear free criticisms of the West. Someone change the channel in my brain.”

    🙂

  43. July 6th, 2011 at 08:16 | #43

    Our business community deals with facts. Here is one of them.
    http://www.uncommonwisdomdaily.com/how-to-play-chinas-railway-boom-12384?FIELD9=1

    US spends 2 billions in Afgan. PER week (there is another war that we spend about the same), and we’ve trouble to approve spending $1.58 billion construction package for 27 public transportation projects around the United States.

  44. July 6th, 2011 at 08:34 | #44

    @Common Tatter #40,

    I can understand why you argue against our use of the term “propaganda,” but when you write:

    If so, then why is your definition so different from the way it is commonly used, i.e. organized groups trying to affect public opinion through deliberate manipulation or distortion of information?

    That’s precisely what we see. Organized media distorting information and a public so on the hook that it is spouting the same thing back for the most part – forming a vicious feedback loop that blanket people’s perception of the world, feeding and persisting this propaganda.

    As for your point about the Western media containing multiple points of view, I agree. But there is usually one dominant view, and when it comes to China, a persistently, dominant, distorted view – which we are calling out here.

  45. Huang
    July 6th, 2011 at 11:05 | #45

    @Common Tater,

    You keep using “the West is diverse” argument as if it completely dismisses any and all arguments pointed out to you. There’s a key point your arguments do not address – mainstream perception. By mainstream perception, I mean the information that people regularly access without having to put effort into it. It even affects people who otherwise wouldn’t care, but are _subconsciously_ affected by it.

    Non-mainstream on the other hand is typically information that people have to go out of their way to access, i.e. not spoonfed to them, i.e. not accessible unless there was conscious effort to access it.

    So the question is, is the mainstream perception of China in the West truly diverse? From my experience, and likely the experience of many on this site, the answer to that is a resounding no. It’s in fact monolithic and overwhelmingly negative. If you still disagree, what _support_ do you have to back it up?

    Just for the record, why don’t you try looking at the comments sections of news articles on China. It’s particularly depressing – usually the overwhelming majority dislike, if not outright hate China, and more than a few are outright racist. If there truly is diversity in public perception on China, please point it out – it’d be refreshing.

    By the way, keep in mind that you yourself just accused others of being brainwashed Chinese propaganda. If you want others to see the diversity in your own culture, trying to do the same for others would really be a good start.

  46. July 6th, 2011 at 11:06 | #46

    http://blogs.wsj.com/marketbeat/2011/07/06/europeans-growl-at-rating-agencies-after-portugal-downgrade/

    EU governments threaten to shut down 2 US based and 1 France based financial rating agencies for giving “doomsay” about Portugal’s economic health, by possibly “revoking license to operate” in Europe according to national laws.

    Hey wait a minute, EU can shut down “free media” for bias and distortions about EU??!!!

    Haven’t tons of Western Media been saying “doom” about China for decades??

    I guess China now can shut down Western media according to Chinese AND EU laws! 🙂

    Welcome to the club, Europe. Took you long enough to realize that you don’t like ***T thrown in your face!

    🙂

  47. July 6th, 2011 at 11:22 | #47

    @Common Tater

    You said:

    That is hardly propaganda. Now, if you want propaganda, you guys know where to look for it: back home in China.

    For many of us, U.S. is home. Some of the readers here are from other parts of the world. Are you a racist?

    You also said earlier on:

    Oh, it’s “common knowledge” is it? That’s convenient then: you don’t have to do anything at all to support the statement. After all, you’re part of the Nationalist crowd, so just say what you feel like about the West, without reflection.

    Now, show us why you are not a nationalist. Are you going to back up your claim Chinese media is propaganda? Until you do, you are a hypocrite. Do you follow this logic?

    I will take the opportunity to list some of our recent articles on this blog about Western media distortions. If the pattern doesn’t emerge for you as propaganda, then I am afraid there is really no point with our exchanges on this topic.

    Do we need to prove racists need to conspire to be racists? I don’t think so. Do we need to prove rapists conspire? Hardly. Racists commit racism and the end result is the same. Rapists rape and the end result is the same.

    Racists are going to embolden each other if they are not checked.

    Western media propagandizes Google’s claim of hacking from China:
    Google’s empty allegations, again, but what next?

    NYT fabricates story of jasmine flower ban in China:
    ‘Catching Scent of Revolution, China Moves to Snip Jasmine’ – Retarded Government or Retarded NYT?

    Western media lies about “China bans time travel”:
    China bans time travel

    Western media purposely ignore death reporting in Afghanistan. This is a suppression of truth and is a form of propaganda:
    FAIR: “How Many Afghan Kids Need to Die to Make the News?”
    http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/2011/03/fair-how-many-afghan-kids-need-to-die-to-make-the-news/

    Need I go on?

    In fact, we have a tag link up top called ‘Media Bias’ – and I have been thinking about changing it to ‘Western Media Propaganda’ because frankly that is what we see.
    http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/tag/media-bias/

    @All

    Some might say we are focusing on just the egregious examples of ‘bad’ press in the West. Hence, the purpose of this post is really to help people look at China reporting in the West more critically; even to a Western audience something seemingly benign upon some reflection will look otherwise. Two examples – one that is fact based, which is what journalism should be. The other is a repetition of the same nonsense we see throughout the Western media. I wanted to highlight what that nonsense is. Be certain we will do more of that on this blog.

  48. July 6th, 2011 at 11:44 | #48

    There was also a rumor recently to link the E. Coli outbreak to China, supposedly the sprout seeds were rumored to be from China.

    It turns out they are actually from Egypt.

    http://www.ausfoodnews.com.au/2011/07/04/europes-e-coli-outbreaks-linked-to-egyptian-sprout-seeds.html

    So, how did the rumor get started?!

    “Europe gets most of its sprout seeds from India and China, according to the European Commission.”

    http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/fs/food-disease/news/jul0511sprouts.html

    Yes, European Commission pointed the finger (implicitly), early on.

  49. Common Tater
    July 7th, 2011 at 08:48 | #49

    yinyang :
    @Common Tater
    You said:

    That is hardly propaganda. Now, if you want propaganda, you guys know where to look for it: back home in China.

    For many of us, U.S. is home. Some of the readers here are from other parts of the world. Are you a racist?
    You also said earlier on:

    Oh, it’s “common knowledge” is it? That’s convenient then: you don’t have to do anything at all to support the statement. After all, you’re part of the Nationalist crowd, so just say what you feel like about the West, without reflection.

    Now, show us why you are not a nationalist. Are you going to back up your claim Chinese media is propaganda? Until you do, you are a hypocrite. Do you follow this logic?
    I will take the opportunity to list some of our recent articles on this blog about Western media distortions. If the pattern doesn’t emerge for you as propaganda, then I am afraid there is really no point with our exchanges on this topic.
    Do we need to prove racists need to conspire to be racists? I don’t think so. Do we need to prove rapists conspire? Hardly. Racists commit racism and the end result is the same. Rapists rape and the end result is the same.
    Racists are going to embolden each other if they are not checked.
    Western media propagandizes Google’s claim of hacking from China:
    Google’s empty allegations, again, but what next?
    NYT fabricates story of jasmine flower ban in China:
    ‘Catching Scent of Revolution, China Moves to Snip Jasmine’ – Retarded Government or Retarded NYT?
    Western media lies about “China bans time travel”:
    China bans time travel
    Western media purposely ignore death reporting in Afghanistan. This is a suppression of truth and is a form of propaganda:
    FAIR: “How Many Afghan Kids Need to Die to Make the News?”
    http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/2011/03/fair-how-many-afghan-kids-need-to-die-to-make-the-news/
    Need I go on?
    In fact, we have a tag link up top called ‘Media Bias’ – and I have been thinking about changing it to ‘Western Media Propaganda’ because frankly that is what we see.
    http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/tag/media-bias/
    @All
    Some might say we are focusing on just the egregious examples of ‘bad’ press in the West. Hence, the purpose of this post is really to help people look at China reporting in the West more critically; even to a Western audience something seemingly benign upon some reflection will look otherwise. Two examples – one that is fact based, which is what journalism should be. The other is a repetition of the same nonsense we see throughout the Western media. I wanted to highlight what that nonsense is. Be certain we will do more of that on this blog.

    Am I a racist for assuming that most of the Nationalists on this site would consider China to be their home in some way? That’s a pretty bizarre allegation, to say the least. Less sugar for you, young man!

    By all means point out bad journalism; just don’t call it propaganda unless you have something substantial on which to base your assertion.

    It’s in your title, I challenged you on it, and you haven’t given a decent defense of the term. This was my only real theme in my posts here. I consider that I have won this point, if only by default.

    (BTW, some feedback on the technical side of your site: could you consider cleaning up the layout of the space directly below the comment field? It might make people unwittingly give you their email when they just want to leave a comment.)

  50. July 7th, 2011 at 10:03 | #50

    “Am I a racist for assuming that most of the Nationalists on this site would consider China to be their home in some way?”

    In what “way” did you base your assumption on? You made no such standards clear. You were just making a blanket assumption that all of us are “nationalists” who consider China to be “home”.

    Now you want to backtrack to “in some way”?

    Well, when you were making the BLANKET assumption earlier, Yes, you were being a “racist”, for assuming that all “nationalists” here would be Chinese.

    That’s called “racial stereotyping”.

    Obviously to you, there can’t possibly be any “real” Americans or Canadians who might also see Western Media lies, and who would actually consider America or Canada to be “home”.

    The Old “disloyal” Chinese among you story, eh? That dates back to the REAL early days of racism in America.

  51. LOLZ
    July 7th, 2011 at 12:40 | #51

    Well, the LA Times writer definitely projected some of his own politics into the article rather than conveying simple facts. I think having “anti-China bias” maybe a better description of the article than “propaganda”.

    IMO, as a whole Western media does show signs of propaganda based off coverage. For example, I have not seen any famous western journalist interviewing relatives of say, the local Afghanistan family which US drones have recently bombed. If a journalist actually wrote such an article it would clearly be labelled as “anti-US” propaganda. However, you do have many journalists interviewing people who were harmed by the Taliban. Similarly, the Western media has been very quiet on Bradly Manning, while in general it would give much more coverage to famous political dissidents in other nations.

    On China, the Western media shows the strongest anti-China bias when it comes to reporting on minority groups (Tibetans, Uighurs, etc) and dissidents. Sometimes you can find articles talking about the Chinese economy mentioning about Chinese dissidents at the end of the article, although the two subjects have no relationship to each other. It’s not that the western journalists are wrong, but the fact that they refuse to cover the “other side”, and thus control the information which may otherwise change the readers’ opinions about a subject.

  52. zack
    July 9th, 2011 at 22:25 | #52

    they’re jealous; let them be jealous, let them stew in their own shit; as the saying goes, ‘haters gonna hate’

  53. jxie
    July 11th, 2011 at 18:57 | #53

    In my bookshelf there is this large illustrated history book of the 20th century. I flip through it occassionally. Two events in 1904 left an impresson on me. One was Russia’s defeat by Japan at a war fought in China. Some of the war films pushed Lu Xun, arguably the best Chinese writer in the 20th century, to quit his medical school study and become a writer. The other was the openning of the 1st New York subway. When I first acquired the book, I was a young man who could still feel the ethnic pain, so to speak. The pain that when others were galloping forward, we as a people were in such an awful place.

    It was not a single event, a single person, but rather a collection of the events and people. When the Interstate Highway System was built, China was ready for its Great Leap Foward; when Neil Armstrong first landed on the moon, China was 3 years into its Cultural Revolution…

    Oh how time changes, today when China is builiding its HSR system, the US is… actually I have no idea what the US is doing. It certainly can’t build the Interstate Highway System now, or even send a man to the space. When fomer Microsoft’s COO had some uneasiness over the contrast, the reactions were quite predictable. The silver lining is though, the rising and the falling, take a very long time to become some future people’s ethnic pain — so to speak.

  54. July 11th, 2011 at 23:16 | #54

    You are not comparing like-with-like. You are comparing a news story with an op-ed. Similarly, several assertions are deemed by you to be fact, while opinions are deemed propaganda. This is absurd.

  55. July 12th, 2011 at 08:44 | #55

    @Mike Cormack
    You seems to be able to write a blog, but apparently can’t read.

    Which one is the op-ed?

  56. July 12th, 2011 at 13:08 | #56

    @Mike Cormack #54,

    You are not comparing like-with-like. You are comparing a news story with an op-ed.

    In a way, you are right. Western news does appear to us like one big, continuous, suffocating op-ed – as compared to more professional, fact-like approach to news by Chinese state media. In that sense, we are definitely not comparing like with like.

    That’s what we are calling out against. Here is an op-ed so pervasive, distortional, and addictive that people have come to expect main stories in world section of a top news organization to be mere op-eds – that people are apparently now so oblivious to it as to see propaganda formally only in state media…

  57. Raj
    July 12th, 2011 at 13:22 | #57

    @Allen

    “as compared to more professional, fact-like approach to news by Chinese state media”

    Providing that they cite facts approved of by the Chinese government. And if you’re only allowed to publish facts that the government agrees with, that’s not very professional with respect to journalism. The truth is not a State monopoly.

  58. raventhorn2000
    July 12th, 2011 at 14:22 | #58

    “Providing that they cite facts approved of by the Chinese government. And if you’re only allowed to publish facts that the government agrees with, that’s not very professional with respect to journalism. The truth is not a State monopoly.”

    Categories of above comment elements by sentences: (1) allegation (personal opinion), followed by (2) speculation/fear mongering (personal opinion), followed by (3) broad rhetorical nonsensical generalization.

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