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How CNN uses disaster to propagandize against a government

(最近,一些中国朋友对这篇文章表示兴趣。我简单解释。两年前,中国温州有高铁遇意外。最近,西班牙的高铁也有意外。右边的CNN报告是关于中国的意外。左边是报西班牙的。这两篇文章非常清楚。CNN关于中国文章的目的是骂中国。不像西班牙的报告, 唯一关于意外。这是他们的宣传技巧。这是西方媒体的宣传技巧。他们不希望中国高铁进入他们的市场。中国人,行业,社会,政府都需要被他们骂的臭臭的。)
Western propaganda has become an art-form, and for the unsuspecting audience, it is invisible.  If you decide to be critical though, you will immediately see how thinly-veiled the propaganda is.  Some of you might have heard about the recent high-speed rail crash in Spain, killing 69 people according to the latest count.  The weird coincidence is that China’s Wenzhou crash was exactly 2 years ago.  Below are two articles from CNN reporting on the crashes.  On the right column is of China’s crash two years ago and on the left column is a recent coverage for Spain’s.  Notice how the Spain article is about the accident while the article on China is a condemnation of China’s HRS and governance.  CNN can find tons of criticism and dissatisfaction on Spain’s Internet too if it wants.  Yes, right now.  CNN can find critical things to write about the Spanish government: for example, Spain woefully under-funds its infrastructure.  These are CNN’s explicit choices to make.  See the glaring difference in the articles as a result of the choices CNN made. Welcome to “free” press.

Report: Train derails in Spain, killing 69

By Al Goodman. Elwyn Lopez and Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN

updated 1:12 AM EDT, Thu July 25, 2013

Chinese netizens outraged over response to fatal bullet train crash

By Steven Jiang, CNN

July 26, 2011 5:16 a.m. EDT

Madrid (CNN) — A high-speed passenger train derailed as it hurtled around a curve in northwestern Spain on Wednesday, killing dozens and injuring more than 100, a regional official said.

By Thursday morning, the death toll had reached 69, Galicia regional government official Samuel Juarez told the Spanish newspaper El Pais.

Pictures of the scene showed a train car snapped in two and another car on fire. Rescue crews and fellow passengers pulled out bodies through broken windows and pried open doors as stunned survivors looked on. Police escorted bloodied passengers from the wreckage.

More than 20 injured victims remained in critical condition early Thursday, said Agustin Hernandez Fernandez of the Galicia infrastructure ministry.

State railway Renfe said the train crashed on a curve several kilometers from the train station in the city of Santiago de Compostela.

The train had 218 passengers aboard and was nearing the end of a six-hour trip from Madrid to the town of Ferrol in northwest Spain when it derailed at 8:41 p.m., the railway said.

It was unclear how fast the train was traveling when it crashed. The train was capable of going up to 250 kilometers per hour (155 mph), the chief spokesman for Renfe said.

Residents who lived near the tracks told the Voz de Galicia newspaper that they heard a thunderous bang when the train crashed. Many of them rushed to the area with blankets and bottled water for the injured, the newspaper reported.

“The train had broken in half. Some pieces were on top, some pieces were on the bottom,” said Ivette Rubiera Cabrera of Florida, who caught a glimpse of the wreckage while on a family vacation in Spain and sent photos to CNN’s iReport.

“It was quite shocking,” she said. “We had never seen anything like that. We had just been on the train last week.”

Oscar Mateos told Spain’s El Pais newspaper that he saw fellow passengers thrown to the ground, then tossed from one side of the train to the other.

“Help came in five minutes, but that time became an eternity,” he said. “I helped people get out with broken legs and many bruises.”

Alen Perez, 16, said he had been walking nearby and saw passengers helping each other out of the train.

Emergency vehicles swarmed the scene. There were several bodies on the ground, he said.

Photos he took of the crash site showed mangled pieces of a train car and black smoke billowing out of the wreckage.

Investigators are looking at all possible causes of the crash, a senior aide to Spain’s prime minister said Wednesday; their initial assessment is that it likely wasn’t the result of terrorism.

Are you there and safe? Tell us what’s happening

Renfe’s spokesman said he did not know how many crew members were aboard the train when it crashed. Normally there would be at least five crew members on a train like that, he said.

Firefighters, police and psychologists were at the scene, the Galicia government said in a statement. In Twitter posts, officials said blood donations were needed as a result of the crash.

Spain’s train infrastructure authority said it was investigating.

The crash occurred shortly before a large annual celebration was set to start in Santiago de Compostela, a popular tourist destination.

Local officials canceled festivities planned for Wednesday night and Thursday.

 

Beijing (CNN) — Nationwide outrage continued Monday in China over the government’s response to a deadly bullet train collision last weekend, even as operations resumed on the affected high-speed rail lines.

A bullet train was struck from behind Saturday night by another train near Wenzhou in eastern Zhejiang province, killing at least 38 people — including two American citizens — and injuring almost 200. The first train was forced to stop on the tracks due to a power outage and the impact caused six cars to derail, including four that fell from an elevated bridge.

Although Chinese reporters raced to the scene, none of the major state-run newspapers even mentioned the story on their Sunday front pages. A user of Sina Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, first broke the story and increasingly popular social media outlets then provided millions of Chinese with the fastest information and pictures as well as the most poignant and scathing commentaries.

By the time the railway ministry held its first press conference more than 24 hours after the collision, the public had seen not just reports of passengers trapped inside dark trains or images of a mangled car dangling off the bridge — but also bulldozers crushing mangled cars that had fallen to the ground and burying the wreckage on site.

“How can we cover up an accident that the whole world already knew about?” said a defiant railway ministry spokesman Wang Yongping. “They told me they buried the car to facilitate the rescue effort — and I believe this explanation.”

Wang was terse when reporters asked him to explain the fact that a toddler girl was being pulled out of the wreckage alive 20 hours after the accident — and long after authorities declared no more signs of life in the trains.

“That was a miracle,” he said.

Blaming lightning strike-triggered equipment failure as the cause of the accident based on preliminary investigation, Wang put on a brave face on the safety of China’s controversial high-speed rail.

“Chinese technologies are advanced and we are still confident about that,” he said.

While some state media echoed Wang’s sentiment, many netizens questioned his every statement from the death toll to the cause and called him the face of a ministry mired in allegations of corruption and ineptitude.

“This land is a hotbed for the world’s most sprawling bureaucracy and most cold-blooded officials,” user “chenjie” wrote on Sina Weibo.

Netizens also dug up an old video clip showing the railway ministry’s chief engineer proudly telling state television in 2007 that China had developed modern technologies to ensure bullet trains never rear-end each other.

The quick sacking of three top local railway officials in Shanghai — who were in charge of the affected rail lines — failed to placate the public, either. The announced new Shanghai railway chief prompted more scorn than applause, as the replacement — the railway ministry’s chief dispatcher — was once demoted for his role in another fatal train accident in 2008 that killed 72 people.

In a user-generated opinion poll on Sina Weibo on the government’s handling of the accident, more than 90 percent of the 30,000 respondents chose the option “terrible — it doesn’t treat us as humans.”

Now the world’s second-largest economy, and flush with cash, China has built the world’s longest high-speed rail network — boasting more than 8,300 kilometers (5,100 miles) of routes — in a few short years. The government plans to pour over $400 billion into rail projects in the next five years.

The massive investment and rapid construction have long raised public doubts on the new lines’ safety and commercial viability. The skeptics’ voices became louder after the former railway minister — a champion of high-speed rail — was sacked for corruption early this year.

Even the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed rail — the ministry’s newest and proudest project — has broken down several times since its much-touted launch less than a month ago.

“It’s not the faster, the better,” Sun Zhang, a railway professor at Tongji University in Shanghai and a long-time railway ministry consultant, told CNN last month. “We have to take safety, economics and environmental impact into consideration.”

“Strategically we can talk about a great leap forward in the industry, but tactically we have to do things step by step,” he added.

Back online, many users — already jittery about safety in their daily life — now view China’s high-speed rail, long considered a symbol of the country’s fast rise, as a metaphor of its troublesome approach to development.

“This is a country where a thunderstorm can cause a train to crash, a car can make a bridge collapse and drinking milk can lead to kidney stones,” user “xiaoyaoyouliu” posted on Sina Weibo. “Today’s China is a bullet train racing through a thunderstorm — and we are all passengers onboard.”

 

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  1. vlee29au
    July 25th, 2013 at 01:40 | #1

    The above is one of the reasons I hardly ever read or watch CNN’s coverage of China or international news nowadays, except for some US news and the occasional headlines.

  2. July 25th, 2013 at 05:57 | #2

    It’s not just CNN. I remember when China had its train disasters, despite its overall safety record, the disasters were almost uniformly reported in the Western press as indictment of the authoritarian nature of the Chinese system, or at the very least, government incompentence. Very little was attributed to technological issues. Almost every sentence you read, there is a hint that this is but the tip of the ice berg, that there is major corruption going on…

    Contrast that with the recent train accidents in France and Spain, or even the nuclear accident in Japan a couple of years ago – the focus was on technological malfunction, and perhaps (at most) incompetence of some utility company or some specific regulatory agencies…

    Please don’t get me wrong, when there is major corruption, it ought to be reported. But we’ve pointed out before, while bad apples in the developed world are reported objectively as bad apples, there is a tendency to report bad apples in China as indictment against Chinese system, Chinese culture.

  3. Black Pheonix
    July 25th, 2013 at 06:54 | #3

    It’s also sign of desperation that CNN and others are digging for “netizens” comments (like digging through trash) to get any words to support their own negative reporting of China.

    I mean, seriously, “netizens”??!

    As much as I would love to have CNN take HH’s words for the real story, (which I doubt they will), one can dig up the worse kind of comments to support just about any kind of conspiracy theories on the internet.

    UFO’s? Obama’s secret socialist Muslim plan to destroy America?

    Come on Western media. If you have to dig through “netizen comments” to prove your points, then you are not in the news business.

  4. July 25th, 2013 at 09:05 | #4

    Here are some recent deadly train accidents in Europe.
    July 12, 2013: Six people are killed and nearly 200 injured just south of Paris when four cars slide off the tracks as a passenger train speeds through the small French town of Bretigny-sur-Orge.
    April 22, 2012: A woman dies of injuries a day after two trains collide head-on in Amsterdam. At least 16 people are seriously injured.
    April 13, 2012: Three people are killed and 13 injured in a train crash near Frankfurt when two trains collide and derail.
    March 3, 2012: Two trains collide head-on in southern Poland, killing at least eight people and injuring around 50.
    Jan. 30, 2011: A head-on collision between a cargo train and a passenger train kills at least 10 people and injures 23 near the eastern German village of Hordorf.
    Dec. 9, 2010: One person is killed and two others are injured after a train derailed in southern Greece between the cities of Argos and Tripoli.
    Aug. 6, 2010: A train derails in southern Italy, killing one passenger and leaving about 30 injured on the outskirts of Naples, its destination.
    July 23, 2010: Switzerland’s popular Glacier Express tourist train derails in the Alps, killing one person and injuring 42 on its journey between Zermatt and St. Moritz.
    Feb. 15, 2010: A train wreck in Buizingen, Belgium, kills 18 people and injures 55.
    July 1, 2009: Thirty-two people are killed and 26 injured when a train carrying liquefied gas derails and explodes while travelling through a downtown neighbourhood in the Tuscan seaside town of Viareggio.
    Oct. 6, 2008: A local passenger train runs into the back of a long-distance train near Budapest, Hungary, killing four people and injuring 26.
    Jan. 27, 2008: A passenger train derails in central Turkey, killing at least nine people and injuring dozens of others, possibly due to ice on the tracks.
    July 3, 2006: A local passenger train crashes in the southern city of Valencia, killing 43 people. Excessive speed is blamed.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2013/07/25/train-derailment-europe.html

  5. Black Pheonix
  6. vlee29au
    July 25th, 2013 at 19:15 | #6

    Interesting to note that if you were to google “Spain China train crash” yesterday, your blog would be mentioned on the search results under news or web. Today’s search showed no association. I wonder?

  7. July 25th, 2013 at 22:33 | #7

    @vlee29au
    Not sure what conclusion can be drawn from that, but the broader point is totally valid. Google’s page-rank is secret. The company ranks search result whatever which way they wish.

    Imagine someone searches for “Tibet” – Google is going to show anti-China perspectives and not Chinese perspectives in the results.

    Every society should think whether they want their citizens to be subjected to such power.

  8. July 26th, 2013 at 11:41 | #8

    Some may wonder how the Chinese media reports on incidents such as the Spanish high speed rail crash. Have a look here:
    http://www.tudou.com/listplay/qTNKXBLm25Y/3HBxWzPFgeM.html?resourceId=0_06_02_99

    Notice how the tone is appropriate. Chinese media do not engage in insinuations and take advantage of incidents like this to vilify the Spanish government, it’s people, or it’s high speed rail system.

  9. Black Pheonix
    July 26th, 2013 at 11:47 | #9

    @YinYang

    Yes. Chinese people don’t need to make themselves feel better by opportunistically looking down on others.

    As my mother taught me when I was little, “Why feel good about others looking bad? If you are right about them, it doesn’t make you better. If you are wrong about them, it only makes you ridiculous.”

  10. July 26th, 2013 at 15:49 | #10

    @YinYang ,
    @Black Pheonix

    But according to Jeffrey Wasserstrom, in this article referenced earlier in another recent post, bad news elsewhere is good news for China!

  11. July 27th, 2013 at 09:31 | #11

    @YinYang
    Fantastic job on getting this piece picked up by Chinese media! I feel like this is exactly the type of exposure we should aim for. I think our major concern about western propaganda shouldn’t be that westerners buy into it, but rather that people in the PRC buy into it. The majority of westerners will obviously submit to the general dogma, despite their self-proclaimed “objectivity” or “distrust” of the media. It’s far more important that the Chinese public doesn’t get sucked into the same dogma.

    To that end, I hope HH can find ways to reach a bigger Chinese audience (perhaps starting with Chinese students overseas, who are more proficient in English?).

    Anyway, here is the Chinese media watch mention:

    http://www.guancha.cn/LongYang/2013_07_26_161308.shtml

  12. Black Pheonix
    July 27th, 2013 at 11:55 | #12

    paying forward from some Chinese colleagues

    CNN’s author Steven Jiang caught in making up story

    http://www.businessinsider.com/cnns-steven-jiang-weibo-post-goes-viral-2012-12

  13. JJ
    July 28th, 2013 at 06:49 | #13

    @Mister Unknown

    Thanks for the link. My Chinese isn’t very good so I’m curious what the comments are saying? Are they surprised by this?

  14. July 28th, 2013 at 19:35 | #14

    Folks you must see this: Shocking ‘Extermination’ Fantasies By the People Running America’s Empire on Full Display at Aspen Summit (2013-07-25) – http://bit.ly/13SdCQn

    CNN sponsored the forum through a special new website called CNN Security Clearance, promoting the event through Twitter and specially commissioned op-eds from participating national security figures…

    “The 2013 Aspen Security Forum this July is a project of the Aspen Institute, the Security Forum brought together the key figures behind America’s vast national security state, from military chieftains like Mattis to embattled National Security Agency Chief General Keith Alexander to top FBI and CIA officials, along with the bookish functionaries attempting to establish legal groundwork for expanding the war on terror.

    Partisan lines and ideological disagreements faded away inside the darkened conference hall, as a parade of American securitocrats from administrations both past and present appeared on stage to defend endless global warfare and total information awareness while uniting in a single voice of condemnation against a single whistleblower bunkered inside the waiting room of Moscow International Airport: Edward Snowden.”

    Seeing the CNN deep involvement in thing like this, one should have no wonder what & who behind the CNN.

  15. July 28th, 2013 at 20:45 | #15

    One netizen in above link nailed it down brilliantly about the hot fascist theme propped by the mainstream media (aka CORPORATE MEDIA) within the last decade:

    “The War On (or Of) Terror, Incorporated, is a phony war that in reality provides a framework for the fascists to systematically dismantle civilian democracy and the Bill of Rights under the guise of ‘protecting’ Americans from ‘bad guys.'”

    THE WAR ON (OF) TERROR, INCORPORATED

    A very cool term, and indeed it involves a monumental size of business and mountains of money to feed among other the Military-industrialized Complex (MIC)… Money, Control, Power, all are provided by this theme war…. a nation and country (or more precisely, an Empire though a declining one) controlled by the CORPORATOCRACY. Please keep in mind always!!

  16. danielxu
    July 28th, 2013 at 22:17 | #16

    For me HH is like Christopher Hitchens exposing the phony of mother Theresa (CNN).
    You think we will find another debaters who can articulate and debunk this pompous Western Media? Eric Li is maybe a good start.
    Keep up the work, I need to flip to HH to read the other side of the story for reality check.

  17. Black Pheonix
    July 29th, 2013 at 07:08 | #17

    @JJ

    Most of the comments agreed with the post. A few questioned why the post picked that specific CNN article for comparison.

    Most were not surprised that CNN would be biased. Many also noted that HSR is very much needed for China’s development, which is another reason why the Western media would want to trash China (to trash China’s development).

  18. Black Pheonix
    July 30th, 2013 at 09:25 | #18

    list of train disasters from 2010 to present:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_rail_accidents_(2010%E2%80%9319)

    for comparison of relative safety of rail services. Keep in mind that Chinese railway also service way more people than other nations.

  19. July 31st, 2013 at 01:04 | #19

    Six Media Companies Control 90% Of What We Read, Watch, and Listen to

    Unfortunately the original link at Frugal Dad: http://frugaldad.com/2011/11/22/media-consolidation-infographic/ is no longer accessible but one can still peep it here:
    “Media Consolidation: The Illusion of Choice (Infographic)”, November 22, 2011 by Jason (Frugal Dad) at http://frugaldad.com/2011/11/

    This infographic created by Jason at Frugal Dad shows that almost all media comes from the same six sources.

    That’s consolidated from 50 companies back in 1983.

    NOTE: This infographic is from last year and is missing some key transactions. GE does not own NBC (or Comcast or any media) anymore. So that 6th company is now Comcast. And Time Warner doesn’t own AOL, so Huffington Post isn’t affiliated with them.

    But the fact that a few companies own everything demonstrates “the illusion of choice,” Frugal Dad says. While some big sites, like Digg and Reddit aren’t owned by any of the corporations, Time Warner owns news sites read by millions of Americans every year.

    Just take a look at below links to grasp what does it mean by the overwhelming GIANT CORPORATE CONTROL 🙂

    http://occupyeducated.org/2012/05/16/six-media-companies-control-90-of-what-we-read-watch-and-listen-to/
    http://www.businessinsider.com/these-6-corporations-control-90-of-the-media-in-america-2012-6

    ALSO another interesting one here: http://www.upworthy.com/the-real-reason-they-still-play-mrs-robinson-on-the-radio

  20. July 31st, 2013 at 01:21 | #20

    “We are grateful to the Washington Post, the New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost 40 years……It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subjected to the lights of publicity during those years. But, the world is more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supernational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national autodetermination practiced in past centuries.” – David Rockefeller(#1), Memoirs(#2)

    Link #1: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9951.David_Rockefeller
    Link #2: http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/17899-memoirs

    And if one reads about Aldous Huxley, chance is one will get familiar with his following quote:

    “Armaments, universal debt, and planned obsolescence – those are the three pillars of Western prosperity. If war, waste, and moneylenders were abolished, you’d collapse. And while you people are over-consuming the rest of the world sinks more and more deeply into chronic disaster.” – Aldous Huxley, author of among others, ‘Brave New World’, ‘Brave New World Revisited’, ‘The Doors of Perception’, ‘Island’ (his last book)

    Read as well “Amusing Ourselves To Death”, it’s a very cool infographic showing a comparison between Aldous Huxley’s view of the future from “Brave New World” and George Orwell’s fears or vision expressed in “Nineteen-Eighty-Four”. Enjoy!
    Aldous Huxley vs. George Orwell: “Amusing Ourselves To Death” – http://bit.ly/VG9cXa

  21. July 31st, 2013 at 21:53 | #21

    @Qomo
    thx for the links

  22. perspectivehere
    August 5th, 2013 at 09:18 | #22

    This recent article reports on a horrific death of a child because of a parking-rage incident in Beijing:

    Chinese toddler dies after parking row attack
    http://uk.news.yahoo.com/chinese-toddler-dies-parking-row-attack-043754637.html

    Not much about this article, but the reader comments picked up on this:

    Robert M: “I thought the report was well written until the last paragraph “Social tensions have been mounting in China in recent years against the backdrop of a widening income gap and abuses of public power.”. What has this got to do with the child being killed.” This comment received 290 Likes / 13 Dislikes and 16 replies.

    Igor: “Social tensions have been mounting in China in recent years against the backdrop of a widening income gap and abuses of public power.” Yea unlike the other countries is it? 147 Likes / 6 Dislikes and 12 Replies.

    Liz: “Social tensions? Jesus, who writes this stuff. So inappropriate to just add that as if it was some kind of excuse! You don’t murder a child because of ‘social tensions’. You murder a child because you are a violent piece of s**t. The only reason I’m against the death penalty is because this guy deserves to rot in jail for the rest of his life!” 193 Likes / 14 Dislikes and 17 Replies.

    Photo: “Sorry where exactly does the last sentence of the article fit? It is completely absurd to link the two issues.” 14 Likes / 3 Dislikes, and 1 Reply from Julie: “Its like the reporter ran out of semi related incidents and just construed these together to form one.”

    Are these comments a positive sign that readers are being more critical about gratuitous anti-China fluff in news articles?

  23. Black Pheonix
    August 5th, 2013 at 09:42 | #23

    it’s not entirely surprising. I think in the current economic downturn, there is plenty of “social tensions” in every country.

    Consequently, even Westerners are getting tired of the media BS.

    I think the polls also indicate that Westerners’ trust in their media has drastically declined in the recent 3 years or so.

  24. ersim
    August 8th, 2013 at 08:39 | #24

    Ever since I read Edward Bernays’ booklet “Propaganda”, I learned very quickly the U.S. corporate “lamestream” media like CNN are just the “public relations” branch of the government, a “fourth branch” of the U.S. system.

  25. Black Pheonix
    October 1st, 2013 at 12:22 | #25

    2 years after HSR accident, success of China’s HSR hails, Double Digit (growth), as a FU to critics.

    http://www.ndtv.com/article/world/high-speed-train-system-is-a-huge-success-for-china-425655

  26. Zack
    October 3rd, 2013 at 04:54 | #26

    you can practically hear the moans and cries of outrage and disappointment from all these China bashers, led of course by the chief China bashers in the NYT.
    well tough shit, China turned around and made what was a disaster into a massive benefit ie taking down the out of control Ministry of Railways and reasserting civilian control over rail infrastructure and streamlining it.
    hence the profit lines doubling.

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