Home > Analysis, media > China Bullet Train Crash, and the organic nature of public relations

China Bullet Train Crash, and the organic nature of public relations

PR, as in public relations, is an art. Over the last few days I have been watching Wang Yongping (王勇平) addressing the Chinese press on the bullet train crash. On one hand, I feel bad for him, for he was genuinely trying to relay facts. On the other hand, I thought he really bungled on certain issues which created controversies that shouldn’t have been in the first place. For example, his ‘I believe it’ comment on the burying of D301’s head should instead simply be that was what he was told and he would find out more. It indeed turned out to be a safety and rescue consideration. Since the rescue team would have details of the circumstances, his job should have been to set expectations and get the press to wait, not speculate, until details emerged.

I put the below diagram together because I think social media is ever more important, and false information in it has to be cleaned in order to let truthful and helpful information propagate.

The information and rumor loop

In a crisis such as this train crash, the public naturally has many concerns. Information from various activities will need to be reported in a timely fashion; rescue, root-cause investigation, connecting victims with families, and so on. Such information are represented by “1” in the above diagram.

With the advent of the Internet, and especially with services like Weibo, individuals can now be a very powerful source of ‘news.’ Rumors and lies can spread equally fast. Roland Song of ESWN has recently translated some exposed rumors and lies. A CCTV panelist said the Ministry of Rail was too slow in reporting names of those died. As it turned out, the ministry was releasing names only after identified by families or relatives, and in the case of no recognizable bodies, DNA testing would have to be completed first.

Incredibly, once names were published, some scammers even tried to trick relatives of victims to wire money pretending for medical care. Wenzhou area hospitals treated those injured, and in cases like this, it is more likely the Ministry of Rail or the insurance companies will be billed some time in the future for hospital expenses.

‘News’ (truth or otherwise), where the population is the source, are represented by “2” above. Foreign media or political oppositions could be sources too. (This diagram is not mean to be complete, only to illustrate a piece of the over-all puzzle. The images are only meant to show the various parties.)

Since the Spokesperson already has the eyes and ears of the media, he can use that same route to squash false rumors, especially ones spreading fast. If the public is told by media certain rumors are false, they will first of all not share, and many will in fact help counter. “3” represents what is most popularly being discussed and shared by the Population. Concerns derived from that should be addressed at the next press conference.

Hence, “1,” “2,” and “3” really make for a loop. Great PR must treat this loop as an organic system until the crisis comes to proper closure.

[Update 1]
July 31st, 2011 at 18:32
See jxie’s tabulation below. The point is obviously not to make an excuse for this accident. Before retards try to indict the Ministry of Rail as if it is out to disregard the Chinese life, they ought to bark at the Japanese and German governments first.

I just tag along the latest post on the train accident…
Here are the stats on deaths per trillion passenger-km, for the 4 countries I computed for, based on the latest commonly available data for the most recent decade:
* France: 21.90
* China: 24.91
* Japan: 45.62
* Germany: 50.44
A few notes:
* The railway-related accident death numbers came from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_rail_accidents_(2000%E2%80%932009). I took the 8/01 to 7/11 data, which is least favorable to China since there was just a new accident in China.
* I didn’t include accident deaths caused by the likes of terrorist attack, and acts of god, such as earthquake, because those are not the railroad operators’ fault.
* I included all railroad deaths, not just deaths on one specific type of railroads.
* For China alone, I also performed quite a bit Internet search to make sure the Wiki pages covered all accidents with fatalities happened in the last decade.
* The passenger-km numbers came from http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/IS.RRS.PASG.KM/countries?display=default. The data I use is for year 2000 to 2009. The passenger-km data for 2010 is available on China, but not other countries. Since China’s passenger-km number grows much faster than other countries, again, my computation is least favorable to China.
* I tried to compute data on Taiwan and India, but gave up. For Taiwan, the passenger-km data is incomplete — but if I project the latest data to the prior decade, the death per trillion passenger-km is MUCH higher than the 4 countries. For India, I quickly realized that there were so many accidents and some of the causes were quite dubious, and the total death count is hard to compute. But regardless, India is MUCH worse than Taiwan.
Draw your own conclusion.

  1. xian
    July 31st, 2011 at 02:55 | #1

    I still don’t understand why this is such a huge deal in or outside of China
    Tragic yes, but I mean, it’s a big country. Accidents happen. The system is relatively new. Unless these trains keep crashing I don’t see the reason for this media storm.

  2. July 31st, 2011 at 06:19 | #2

    xian :
    I still don’t understand why this is such a huge deal in or outside of China

    Outside China, it’s not a big deal. The fake apple store story got more coverage.

    Inside China, if you don’t understand why this is such a huge deal, I’d refer to you this post from ESWN:
    http://www.zonaeuropa.com/20110730_1.htm

    After reading that, I assume you’ll understand why it’s a big deal.

  3. July 31st, 2011 at 09:57 | #3

    Like I have said before, it is sign that democracy is alive and well in China. News like the Guo Mei-Mei inccident would not get the same attention in the west. The netizens in China actually go out of their way to “human flesh search” this young lady, exposing her true identity, even go all the way to locate her and attempted an interview.

    One major thing I noticed about the education in China is that it is actually very political compare to those of the west. The Guo Mei-Mei inccident remind me of a much earlier event where a lower ranking official was shown in pic smoking expensive cigarette, the next thing you knew netizens were releasing his name, researching the watch he wear, exposing the car he drives (a Cadillac). The end results was that he was investigated by party disciplinary committee and charged.

    Although, some might argue that they are too critical in their critism but they are simply holding themselves and the govn’t to a very high standard which actually bode well for the future. In the west, students are brought up to believe that the current system is pretty much “the end of history” and is the best system there is.

    Everybody who frequent this blog knew that the present social-political system in China is still a work in progress (much like the HSR system). There are still plenty of work and improvement to be done.

    Another reason is that the population is huge in China, you can add up the population of North, South Amercia, Europe including Russia and China still outnumbered them. So opinion are bound to be varied. Contrary to most belief, the Chinese people on the whole has less of a herd mentality than most, everybody pretty much have an opinion, and most Chinese are very individualistic. I credit that to the very diverse teaching of history in China. And in a large way the way the GLF and CR happened are a results of this nature of the Chinese popullace. (I will write more about it in the future)

  4. julien
    July 31st, 2011 at 13:40 | #4

    @xian
    the topic goes far beyond a train accident and by reading your comment it shows that you don’t have a vision of what is at stake. The topic is about constant corruption of the economic and political system which often lead to negative externalities on individuals.
    Media and the world would like to see chinese people wake up and fight for their rights.

  5. Charles Liu
    July 31st, 2011 at 13:53 | #5

    @julien

    Sorry you’ll need to prove your “crash is caused by corruption” claim.

  6. julien
    July 31st, 2011 at 14:01 | #6

    Well, it is already proven for many incidents. What i want to see is the Chinese government being replaced by a government responsible for his people’s wellbeing.

    that the Party tries to bargain premiums paid to famillies of the decease is a shame, that families can’t fill lawsuits is also a shame. I don’t need to prove it, the chinese people will be strong enough to put an halt to the strategy of the chinese government.

  7. Charles Liu
    July 31st, 2011 at 14:43 | #7

    Ok I’ll take it you have no proof. As to your other unproven indictments:

    – The compensation beakdown has been published in the Chinese media. Amounts in addition to max amount includes 2% insurance from ticket purchase, donation, other social benefits – totaling 500k RMB, far exceeding the 150k stated by law.

    – Comparatively the 9/11 victim compensation fund also required release from family, not to mention such practice is common for all commercial insurance settlement.

  8. July 31st, 2011 at 15:50 | #8

    The final compensation figure is RMB 915,000. http://www.chinanews.com/gn/2011/07-31/3222410.shtml

  9. jxie
    July 31st, 2011 at 18:32 | #9

    I just tag along the latest post on the train accident…

    Here are the stats on deaths per trillion passenger-km, for the 4 countries I computed for, based on the latest commonly available data for the most recent decade:

    * France: 21.90
    * China: 24.91
    * Japan: 45.62
    * Germany: 50.44

    A few notes:

    * The railway-related accident death numbers came from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_rail_accidents_(2000%E2%80%932009). I took the 8/01 to 7/11 data, which is least favorable to China since there was just a new accident in China.
    * I didn’t include accident deaths caused by the likes of terrorist attack, and acts of god, such as earthquake, because those are not the railroad operators’ fault.
    * I included all railroad deaths, not just deaths on one specific type of railroads.
    * For China alone, I also performed quite a bit Internet search to make sure the Wiki pages covered all accidents with fatalities happened in the last decade.
    * The passenger-km numbers came from http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/IS.RRS.PASG.KM/countries?display=default. The data I use is for year 2000 to 2009. The passenger-km data for 2010 is available on China, but not other countries. Since China’s passenger-km number grows much faster than other countries, again, my computation is least favorable to China.
    * I tried to compute data on Taiwan and India, but gave up. For Taiwan, the passenger-km data is incomplete — but if I project the latest data to the prior decade, the death per trillion passenger-km is MUCH higher than the 4 countries. For India, I quickly realized that there were so many accidents and some of the causes were quite dubious, and the total death count is hard to compute. But regardless, India is MUCH worse than Taiwan.

    Draw your own conclusion.

  10. Citizen
    July 31st, 2011 at 20:32 | #10
  11. pug_ster
    July 31st, 2011 at 21:36 | #11

    Sometimes these articles where journalists just went too far. They wanted to fuel this kind of one sided reporting but failed to be objective in their articles or trying to get into the point. For example in the nytimes article about a CCTV host was reprimanded when he said.

    In that segment, the host of the program asked: “If nobody can be safe, do we still want this speed? Can we drink a glass of milk that’s safe? Can we stay in an apartment that will not collapse?”

    “China, please slow down,” the host said. “If you’re too fast, you may leave the souls of your people behind.”

    For one thing, what does it have to do with milk or unstable buildings? Second, he subjected his opinion when he suggested that China should slow down.

  12. Citizen
    July 31st, 2011 at 22:32 | #12

    So in terms of yinyang’s diagram, the Spokesperson (or should there be another player in the diagram, the Central Govt?) also controls what happens between the Media and the Population, and controls what happens between the Population and the Social Media.

    Doesn’t that stop the ‘organic’ loop?

    And what happens when the loop is abruptly stopped? The Population knows very well that the Spokesperson has stepped in to stop the flow – they have seen material disappear. It’s no secret. What does the Population make of this?

    Does the Population think ‘The Spokesperson is right to limit what information (1) we hear and what we say. The Media and Social Media are not being objective’?

    Or does the Population think something else?

  13. Charles Liu
    July 31st, 2011 at 22:39 | #13

    @Citizen

    David Bandurski? If memory serves he is one of the two originator of the “Fifty Cent Party” McCarthyist accusation against netters who spoke out against anti-China propaganda (along with Oiwan Lam of Global Voices which is funded by George Soros’ OSI.)

    And the reporter who supposedly got yanked off the air have since dispelled online rumors. His show went on hiatus for one episode as scheduled and he’s back on the air.

    As to the allegation of media black out, I don’t see it. Here’s Baidu News’ train wreck speical page, it’s full of critical analysis:

    http://news.baidu.com/z/dctg/index.html

    “广州日报:铁道线上还有多少“系统缺陷”- How Many More “System Deficiencies” Remain On The Train Tracks

    “新京报社论:如何给民众一个负责任的交代” – How To Give The People A Responsible Answer

    “动车惨案无真相就无谅解 何以告慰死者” – Train Wreck Tragidy No Truth No Forgiveness; How To Placate The Dead”

    And when I search Baidu News with keywords “动车追尾” (train rear collision), then sort by date, I get the following:

    8/1 – page 1-12
    7/31 – page 13-17
    7/30 – page 18-26
    7/29 – page 27-38

  14. Citizen
    July 31st, 2011 at 23:19 | #14

    @Charles Liu

    So there is no media crackdown?

    And you think that is the right decision? The authorities should not stop the flow?

    Just trying to see where you’re coming from

  15. July 31st, 2011 at 23:27 | #15

    @Citizen
    You either trust the NYT tabloid trash or you open your eyes and see the world for your self – i.e. go and read the Chinese articles and decide for yourself.

  16. Charles Liu
    July 31st, 2011 at 23:48 | #16

    @Citizen

    I have posted proof in other threads showing the Chinese media being very independent in investigating this story.

    For example I posted the Chinese media questioning the official preliminary conclusion that signal system defect was the root cause, in this blogpost:

    http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/2011/07/wenzhou-south-railway-station-signaling-system-failure-was-root-cause-of-d301-and-d3115-crash/

    Like DW said, read the articles and decide for yourself.

    IMHO David Bandurski, Rebecca MacKinnon, Oiwan Lam, Julien Pain are a-holes paid for by George Soros.

  17. silentvoice
    August 1st, 2011 at 00:06 | #17

    Off topic: It struck me how different is/was the Chinese and Japanese reaction to domestic events like these. The TEPCO nuclear accident had the same ingredients that could have caused a domestic upheaval– government inaction, cover-ups, supposed collusion between the nuclear industry and the government, and foreign media doing the things they do (inflaming passions) — except that the Japanese did not react. There was no internet activism. No calls for officials or politicians to resign. There was a small anti-nuclear protest in front of TEPCO headquarters, that was it.

    Why the difference in enthusiasm?

    Perhaps decades of Chinese propaganda glorifying “people power” has a role in overturning Confucius values stressing harmony and respect for authority. From 1911 up to the mid-70s, the Chinese were taught that revolution is “good”. Even now, movies coming out of Chinese cinemas glorify revolutionary periods (especially 1911 and 1949, see the last two ‘epic’ films 建国大业 and 建党伟业). This boggles the mind as it runs counter to another government imperative–to keep the country stable. I don’t know how they could reconcile the communist revolutionary ideology with the essentially capitalist want for stability.

    Another obvious reason is the lack of enfranchisement. When people have no way to effect their government, they feel as though they have to shout to get their voices heard.

    Additionally– I don’t know how else to put it, but it seems to me that a lot of native Chinese have this blind faith in Democracy. They think the “grass is always greener on the other side”. You hear it from the ordinary Chinese who’s never been out of the country. They continue to feel inferior and look toward western countries for solutions. This seems to affect the Japanese as well, but not to the same degree.

    @jxie: There’s no need to compile data for Taiwan because Taiwan = China. 😉

  18. August 1st, 2011 at 00:35 | #18

    @silentvoice
    The Japanese are in fact not too happy about Western media coverage of their crisis – take a look at their Wall of Shame:

    http://www.jpquake.info/

    Japanese media in fact reported about it too.

    It has a lot to do with media jumping the gun, as in the case of the Oslo bombing/shooting being insinuated as Muslim terrorist attack:

    http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/2011/07/the-colbert-report-norwegian-muslish-gumans-islam-esque-atrocity/

    Some people prefer that type of behavior in the media, but I would argue that should not necessarily be the norm. People use that lens to judge others, so it says more about them than anything else.

  19. Citizen
    August 1st, 2011 at 01:28 | #19

    @YinYang, Charles Liu

    Sorry, I’m not clear. Those reports I quoted say that there was a lot of critical commentary in the media and in social media, but since Friday the authorities are trying harder to stop that criticism – with the result that a lot of news stories planned for the weekend have been spiked. They quote journalists and editors to this effect and show unpublished stories.

    Are you saying that the authorities are not doing this?

    Or are you saying they are, and are justified in doing so?

    Thanks

  20. August 1st, 2011 at 01:54 | #20

    @Citizen
    I think you have the logic backwards. The NYT claims there is such a directive, but what is their proof?

    Last week there has been claims by some Western media the Chinese government prohibiting the Chinese media from investigating the root-cause of the crash. They ALL cite this one photo of a supposed girl’s hand holding a phone with a SMS message to the effect.

    A 10 year-old could have faked that. I am sorry, that cannot be proof enough.

    As it turned out, if you watch Chinese news everywhere, they are all reporting from different angles on what might be possible cause of the collision.

    So, the natural conclusion was that photo was a lie or taken out of context.

    To answer your question, we best look at what the Chinese media is reporting. Why, you are going to ignore that and take the NYT for its word? 😉 Again, where is NYT’s proof?

  21. Citizen
    August 1st, 2011 at 02:00 | #21

    @YinYang

    So there is no Friday crackdown, and presumably no reason for the authorities to try to restrict and direct coverage of the incident – is that what you’re saying?

    I am talking about coverage since Friday, not last week.

  22. JULIEN
    August 1st, 2011 at 02:30 | #22

    @YinYang
    You are right that we need to be cautious.

    However, taking into account the common practices of the Chinese Government and the facts that were shown (handling of the weckrage, moving of the engine, management of casualties’ properties by the police, …) we can have some serious doubt about the output (the reason which will be given for this incident) that will be given.

    What you guys yinyang and Charles Liu should understand is that in China decisions are biaised because of some people seeking decisional power, economical power or social recognition. No matter we are dealing about a train, milk, meat, buildings… people get negatively impacted.

    Asking for a proof is a tricky reasoning as you know that proofs are hidden by the Government.

    I am confident that this situation won’t last long.

  23. August 1st, 2011 at 07:43 | #23

    This is an op-ed from Globaltime, a right wing mouth piece of CCP.

    http://www.globaltimes.cn/NEWS/tabid/99/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/668123/Officials-arrogance-results-in-poor-PR.aspx

    Officials’ arrogance results in poor PR

    The train crash tragedy in Wenzhou has drawn more social reflection than most major accidents. Nowadays, almost all public events raise serious questions, but in the face of these, authorities often react reluctantly and ambiguously.

    Such an attitude causes more damage to the image of the government than the accidents themselves.

    The mistakes that the railway ministry made in the Wenzhou accident are obvious. The public is completely right to question the state of the collision warning systems and the management system of the high-speed railway.

    Only when the railway ministry takes a lower profile and sincerely apologizes to the public can it eliminate public anger and begin rebuilding its image.

    Unfortunately, it has not done so. It is not alone. Since the beginning of this year, many of the official bodies and large State-owned enterprises have performed unsatisfactorily in the face of public criticism. Officials have been too stingy in their apologies, and press conferences that were supposed to be used to communicate with the public ended up as a farce.

    It is high time this problem is addressed. If such public relations disasters frequently happen, the official credibility of authorities will be gradually torn down.

    Railways have been one of the sectors with the highest track records of innovation in China. They have supported China’s massive migration. But recently, the railway ministry has been a prime target of public criticism. The reasons go beyond the corruption of Liu Zhijun, the former minister for railways.

    Similarly, many other Chinese authorities have made great achievements. For example, the petrochemical sector has ensured the country’s huge demand for energy, but its players are also constantly whipped by public opinion.

    Government departments should reflect on how this came about.

    This is not because they do not communicate with the public, but is due to their attitude being totally wrong.

    Chinese society is changing and public democracy is booming in the Internet era, but the arrogance of certain authorities has stagnated.

    They have become accustomed to only being praised in the past and when facing a crisis, they believe they can deal with the public in a bureaucratic way.

    However, public opinion in China cannot stand this anymore.

    We are willing to believe that most government departments in China are good and most officials are hard-working. But faced with a disaster like the Wenzhou accident, any related party is not allowed to defend itself because of its past achievements.

    The only thing to do is to make a thorough apology, respond to all the doubts and be fully transparent.

    It is foreseeable that Chinese authorities and other relevant organizations will continue to suffer from this public crisis and that their clumsy performances when facing the public will become more obvious. This will damage China’s image and waste China’s political resources.

    Today, nobody is allowed to lead the public opinion alone. The relationship between the government and the public is like that of a ship and water. Water can keep the ship afloat or sink it.

  24. August 1st, 2011 at 07:44 | #24

    Another one:

    http://www.globaltimes.cn/NEWS/tabid/99/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/668458/Truth-will-out–easing-public-doubts.aspx

    Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao vowed on Thursday to severely punish those responsible for the recent bullet train collision. He ordered a swift, transparent probe into the fatal crash, and promised that the results would stand the test of time.

    All eyes are now fixed on the settling of the accident.

    The rescue work organized by the Ministry of Railways sparked widespread public criticism. Earlier official explanations of the crash’s causes are in doubt.
    The authorities should accelerate the probe into the tragedy and provide convincing results to ease public suspicions. This is the only way to regain public trust in the safety of high-speed rail.

    Nevertheless, a predicament is looming. Many choose not to believe whatever results the authorities provide. Microblogs are prime evidence of this. The release of official findings constantly meets with suspicion and resistance, although the outpouring of online anger does not represent the overall attitude.

    Responsible media outlets should remain neutral, rather than being swayed by online anger or pre-conceived ideas. The media is responsible for pointing out doubtful elements of government findings, but such questioning should be carried out in a serious and scientific manner.

    People should focus on this specific case and reflect upon loopholes in technology or management, rather than just attributing the accident to a deficiency in China’s national mode of development.

    Looking into a deficiencies of the nation’s central system may seem like being able to obtain a fundamental settlement of all problems. However, this is far beyond the scope of the investigation into this disaster, and may achieve nothing but interfere with the truth in this specific case.

    The logic that no problem can be fixed before the system itself gets an overhaul is inappropriate. In fact, at this stage of transformation, various problems, including the safety of the high-speed railway system, can barely be fixed through a surgery to the nation’s system.

    Previously, when all kinds of public desires were taken care of by the government, an adjustment of the system often led to considerable productive forces and public confidence.

    Today, reform measures can no longer have such colossal effects anymore. The government should be resolute in carrying on with reform and boost changes to the general social environment. But as for specific problems, these must patiently fixed, one by one.

    Recently, China has witnessed several public relations disasters, including the Red Cross scandal. Society is paying close attention and the Internet is seeing a collective eruption of anger. Each public crisis incurs fatigue and puzzlement across society.

    It is the government who should take the initiative in changing this predicament. The government should first change the way it handles crisis management. Ensuring open, transparent investigations is the only way to reduce social doubts.

    The government’s voice should be convincing and powerful enough to restore its credibility with the public.

  25. raventhorn2000
    August 1st, 2011 at 07:44 | #25

    I have no doubt that every government hides things from its citizens.

    While some believe that citizens have the right to know virtually everything, I say that is an irrational position.

    Often times, a little knowledge is a recipe for the ignorant to jump to conclusions.

    For example, in US, too many people are doctor-shopping for prescriptions, because the drug companies over expose them to different medicine advertisement. The patients know only what they are shown on TV ad’s, and do not understand all the problems with various medicines.

    It is worth while to remember, even Americans distinguish their system as a “REPUBLIC”, not a “DEMOCRACY”. The Founding Fathers of US (and forgotten by the masses) designed the Republican form of government to curb the unruly mob of the populus.

    Our current rampantness of rumors on the internet only proves that the mob is unruly, without the restraint of reason. (And it is not a reaction to some fear of censorship. It is the nature of the mob to congregate their paranoia, regardless of the political systems. Even in US, there will be mad dashes to empty the shops, whenever a disaster hits).

  26. raffiaflower
    August 1st, 2011 at 08:21 | #26

    “Media and the world would like to see the Chinese ppl wake up and fight for their rights”.
    Lol! Reminds me of a line from Lin Yutang’s classic My Country,My People: When the Imperial Japanese army declares Asia for Asians!, Chinese women and children run screaming.
    A statement like `see the Chinese ppl…fight for their rights’ is particularly ironic, given the blatant disregard that `media and the world’ have for the rights of the people of Iraq, Libya or whichever resource-rich country that `the world’ feels like invading whenever it wants. Really makes one wonder if it’s genuine altruism or a hidden agenda in rousing the Chinese ppl to fight their `oppression’.

  27. raventhorn2000
    August 1st, 2011 at 08:25 | #27

    And I should remind us all that China is a “REPUBLIC”, as USA is a “REPUBLIC”.

    Next time some one accuse China of not having “Democracy”, reply, who is a “Democracy”? US is not a Democracy, neither is any European country.

    The only countries I can think of that have “democracy” hinted in their names, are DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) and DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo), and DRV (Democratic Republic of Vietnam).

  28. JULIEN
    August 1st, 2011 at 08:32 | #28

    @raffiaflower

    I am not sharing your view as people have woken up in Middle East. Egypt, Yemen, Lybia, Tunisia, Syria are places where the change is under go.

    I agree with you that around Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan this has been a mess and it seems that the US has had some special interest in natural resources.

    Occidental media can’t massively cover the management of human rights in China as it would impact the commercial links existing between these nations (China – US / China – Europe). Wise people around the world would like to see the people gain more political power in China.

    As i always think it, China is currently managed as an enterprise, not as a country. The result is that people don’t trust each others.

    I think it is time for people to stop thinking and blaming each other and really acting in favor of their own rights. Having 300 000 people owning one third of the bank asset in China is not acceptable.

  29. raventhorn2000
    August 1st, 2011 at 08:40 | #29

    “I think it is time for people to stop thinking and blaming each other and really acting in favor of their own rights. Having 300 000 people owning one third of the bank asset in China is not acceptable.”

    People acting in favor of their own “rights” doesn’t increase people’s mutual trust. On the contrary, it just boils it to the surface into political deadlocks.

    People acting in favor of their own “rights” won’t cause equitable “asset” ownership either. Most of the world is owned by large corporations controlled by the powerful, in case you haven’t noticed, some of which are “media companies”.

  30. Al
    August 1st, 2011 at 09:43 | #30

    “I am not sharing your view as people have woken up in Middle East. Egypt, Yemen, Lybia, Tunisia, Syria are places where the change is under go.”

    Julien, you are not really much into international relations and politics, are you?

    Let alone Tunisia and Egypt, were anyway the result have been that people is still protesting cause the “new” is much as the “old” (which was backed by US and the West…Ben Ali was put in charge of Tunisia through French and Italian secret services, as much so that France, at the beginning of the protest, offered Ben Ali her help in money and means to quell the protesters. That Mubarak was a US man is a well known fact), in Lybia (and part in Siria), it’s the same old “colored revolutions” story going on again, backed by the West for political reasons. The attack on Lybia is an act of international terrorism against a sovereign nation, against the same UN resolution they state to be upholding and against that same people they (lying) swear to be protecting, while they are killing it…All while the “free” media propagate the official line and propaganda.

  31. Charles Liu
    August 1st, 2011 at 10:55 | #31

    @Citizen

    Did you take a look at the baidu news search breakdown I sent you in comment 13? I found many articles critical of the government, just as yinyang had.

    And that IS over the weekend.

  32. August 1st, 2011 at 14:04 | #32
  33. Rhan
    August 1st, 2011 at 19:54 | #33

    yinyang / Charles, many Chinese (HK, Twn, Spore, Msia) media report about the restriction, I doubt their sources is from the West.

    RV, yes many democratic country perform censorship, but do you think this is the right thing to do on this particular case?

  34. Citizen
    August 1st, 2011 at 21:27 | #34

    @Charles Liu, yinyang

    Yes, thanks for that reference Charles.

    Problem is there seem to be quite different ideas about the topic even among people who usually agree; you and yinyang don’t think there was such an order, while raven and pugster seem to assume there was.

    Of course you can have different ideas, but you have to stick to one side. It makes no sense to maintain that there was no order from the Propaganda Department (and that is a good thing), but if there was, then that is also a good thing. That would suggest nothing but blind obedience on your part.

    So perhaps you and yinyang could explain why you think there was no such order.

    yinyang asks specifically for proof – well the press reports are pretty specific, giving the time that the original order was made (9pm), the times of the follow-up calls, and directly quoting the text of the statement.

    They cite three newspapers who were forced to scrap pages of coverage, and above all, they actually show those pages after journalists at the papers posted the scrapped pages on Weibo.

    They also directly quote reporters who described in detail how they were forced on Friday evening to come up with new material, and one from a Guangdong newspaper who says ‘We receive topic bans every day, but we haven’t seen a ban so severe, so abrupt and so desperate’.

    The reports say that even Xinhua had to warn its media subscribers not to use one of its investigative report (that report comes from a paper that is itself a Xinhua subscriber).

    There is another sourced, specific quote: ‘“Tonight, hundreds of papers are replacing their pages; thousands of reporters are having their stories retracted; tens of thousands of ghosts cannot rest in peace; hundreds of millions of truths are being covered up,” the editor of Southern Metropolis Daily, a newspaper based in Guangzhou, wrote Friday. “This country is being humiliated by numerous evil hands.” His post, on the site Sina Weibo, was later deleted. ‘

    So that’s the evidence, and I have to say its specific, detailed and concrete enough to persuade me, as it did the Hong Kong Journalists Association – who of course have many of their own additional sources of information, working closely as they do with China journalists.

    I have seen no-one except yourselves deny the reality of the report, by the way. No official reaction.

    Now I guess you could (and probably will) dismiss all that, but I would ask why? Do you think that the report must be untrue because authorities never try to impose bans like this? Or do you think they just didn’t on this occasion?

    Charles, you point out that there are still critical articles around. Are there as many? Are they as critical? Could it be that the media are being unusually dismissive of central directives?

  35. Charles Liu
    August 1st, 2011 at 22:43 | #35

    @ citizen

    Again, you need to read them and decide for yourself.

  36. Citizen
    August 1st, 2011 at 23:03 | #36

    @Charles Liu

    Well, clearly I have decided, and given reasons why I still think there was such a directive.

    If we are to discuss this -and it is central to the whole theme of this thread – I think you have to say why you dismiss the evidence I cite. Do you think the reports must be untrue because authorities never try to impose bans like this? Or do you think they just didn’t on this occasion?

    Others, like raven and pugster seem to agree with me. Why is that?

  37. pug_ster
    August 2nd, 2011 at 05:46 | #37

    @Citizen,

    I never said that there was definitely a media blackout, but even if there is, I don’t see what’s the big deal about this. As others have said, there’s already media blackouts in the Western Propaganda concerning the Iraq and Afghanistan.

    There are numerous articles that try to emotionalize this situation like China’s Economic Observer about “Yiyi, When you’re Grown up.” Sorry printing these kind of article are nothing but knee jerkers and trying to ramp up sales of their newspaper, and has nothing to do with what a financial newspaper should print. The Media has a responsibility to print ‘fair and balanced’ articles while being objective in their reporting. Otherwise, it is just printing propaganda.

  38. Al
    August 2nd, 2011 at 06:56 | #38

    Unfortunately those are exactly the sort of article that sell so well in western newspapers..the more the knee jerk the better to them..

  39. August 2nd, 2011 at 10:42 | #39

    @Citizen

    Just what are you trying to say? Are you claiming there is a ‘ban?’ If so, your claim is retarded.

    If you are trying to say there are restrictions on what the media can publish, then I would agree with you that is likely the case. But what is that restriction amounting to? Again, have you read what the Chinese media are reporting? If you are too lazy, read those quoted by Ray on this thread!

    Even the second source your cited (HKJA), it said:

    HKJA, however, has learnt that the CCP Propaganda Bureau has recently issued a directive to all mainland media to only run official versions of the accident.

    If you think about it, HKJA is a dirt bag. Did it bother to show one quote of their claim? What does the statement actually say? They seemed to have learned an awful lot, but yet failed to show anything! Why is that?

    HKJA is interpreting any form of regulation on media as against ‘press freedom’ too. That’s the purpose of that organization if you bother to look at their site.

    To determine how restrictive the instructions are, we will need to see the statement. Letting nut jobs interpret it to suit their agenda? You may take their interpretation as gospel. But I say show those statements first. Let us decide what the nuances are.

    So what if few instances of journalists are upset they are not allowed to publish their article? If there is media regulation in the West, I guarantee you there will be hordes of people complaining in similar fashion every day. You may think it is not a good thing to regulate. That’d be your believe. I think journalism should be about journalism. Trash should be kept out or clearly relagated to a trash category.

  40. August 2nd, 2011 at 11:14 | #40

    “you and yinyang don’t think there was such an order, while raven and pugster seem to assume there was.”

    Where did I assume there was “an order”??

    “Others, like raven and pugster seem to agree with me. Why is that?”

    Where did I “agree” with you?

    As far as I know, I made no agreements of any kind regarding whether there was any “order” to censor the media at all.

  41. August 2nd, 2011 at 11:25 | #41

    Also, in the NYT article Citizen provided link to above, it reported the cars were buried. That is one of the rumors already debunked. See picture below – none of the cars were buried.

    Note how the NYT reported too:

    Tens of millions of Chinese have posted messages on the Chinese equivalents of Twitter questioning why the two high-speed trains crashed, whether the rescue effort was bungled and why images from the site showed wrecked train cars being buried in pits even before investigators began their work. After initially playing down the event, the state-run media also began to challenge why the accident occurred and how the government had handled it.

    The truth is this should be reported as a rumor debunked. However, the NYT in fact uses the rumor further to cast doubt on the Chinese government by cleverly bringing in the Chinese media.

    This is tabloid trash.

    Need I go through the rest of the NYT article?

  42. August 3rd, 2011 at 14:11 | #42

    Let me paint the clearest possible picture of what the rumor mongers on the net are doing:

    (1) they highlight 5 dots out of a giant painting of 1000’s of color dots.
    (2) they draw a straight line between the 5 dots, not quite connecting to all of them.
    (3) they say, “SEE! It’s a painting of a LINE!”
    (4) if you point out 1 out of the 1000’s of dots that don’t fit on their line, they say, all those other 1000’s of dots are just there “hiding the truth of the LINE”.

    *I call it the logic of the “5 dot liners”, and fundamentally, you can’t argue with such illogic of cherry picking data points and making up theories. That’s what conspiracy theories are made of.

  43. August 4th, 2011 at 07:06 | #43

    Latest Public Hoax reveals how easy it is for rumor mongers to dupe Western Media.

    http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/how_the_internet_explorer_iq_study_hoax_spread_and_why.php

  44. zack
    August 11th, 2011 at 01:08 | #44

    check out the smug self satisfaction and glee the al jazeera reporter is making at the state council’s decision to temporarily stop any new plans for new HSR lines in the wake of this tragedy. unbelievable.

    http://www.youtube.com/user/AlJazeeraEnglish?blend=1&ob=5#p/u/0/B9L2qjSqBNA

    y’know what else is unbelievable, the unsubstantiated claim this reporter makes that this is somehow going to affect Chinese bids for the US californian HSR. in his dreams. if anything, a reappraisal of the accident and on grounding lightning will be undertaken and improvements to HSR will happen. HSR is simply too important a technology for the new China.

  45. Pete North
    August 11th, 2011 at 02:33 | #45

    True Zack, though least the reporters smug self-satisfaction doesn’t cost lives…typical misrepresentation by the Western…sorry Eastern media.

  46. Peter McVay
    March 19th, 2012 at 20:09 | #46

    I travelled on these train the afternoon before the crach to Ninghai. There was a very big electric thunder storm the night of the accident. I call it an accident because that is what it was. I see many time the western press make a big issue out of something in China which should be treated as an accident . I feel sorry for the families that where effected by this crash.
    The train system l travelled on in China was efficent , clean and in my opinion safe.

  47. Peter McVay
    March 19th, 2012 at 20:18 | #47

    The train crahsed due to a lightning strike.
    I was in ninghai the night of the crash and saw the very big lightning storm
    I was told about the train crash the Sunday morning.
    I travelled on this train system the day it crashed
    The media report within China was more informative than what was reported in western media.
    @Charles Liu

  48. April 24th, 2012 at 10:06 | #48

    Since the rescue team would have details of the circumstances, his job should have been to set expectations and get the press to wait, not speculate, until details emerged.

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