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Business Insider’s Reporting on China

August 14th, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

On 13th Aug, 2013 I clicked on articles with China as a tag, http://www.businessinsider.com/category/china

This is what appeared as it was (no selection was done by me):

Rare Video Appears To Show A Public Execution In China

How The Emerging Markets Will Unravel As China Unwinds Its Debt

The Sex Lives Of Top Chinese Officials

How China’s Tax Structure Crushes The Poor

STUDY: There’s A Huge, $1 Trillion Hole In Chinese GDP

Expert: Dalai Lama’s Website Has Been Hacked And It’s Infecting People’s Computers

An Eccentric Chinese Professor Spent Years Building This Bizarre Mountaintop Villa Above A Beijing High-Rise

China Freaked Out Over Japan’s New Flat-Topped ‘Destroyer’

A Big Chinese ‘Bad Bank’ Plans To Go Public And It Has Experts Scratching Their Heads

India’s New Carrier Joins The Big Asian Arms Race

Mother Of British Businessman Whose Murder Rocked China’s Ruling Class Is Demanding Blood Money

China’s New ‘Unrestricted Takeoff’ Policy Creates More Problems Than It Solves

Police Bust Up A Human Trafficking Ring Smuggling Chinese Migrants For Up To $66,000 Per Person

10 Things That Could Go Horribly Wrong In China

China’s Silly New Policy Shows It Can’t Handle Its Booming Aviation Market

It’s So Hot In Shanghai That People Are Camping Out In Air Conditioned Subway Stations

So basically these are the articles you can get on China. China is currently the 2nd largest economy, it is understandable it gets a lot of necessary and unnecessary attention. But how useful are these stories to any potential investors or readers? By reading those stories, one would be convinced that China is a “bad place” not just for business but for living. It would simply collapse any time now. There might be a positive article here and there. If you search the articles all the way back through the years these negative titles seem to be the common theme. Pretty much all of them painted a very bleak picture of  socio-economic condition of China as a country or economy. The question I have is, if these articles represent the true representative state of China’s development, shouldn’t China crashed a long time ago as predicted by Gordon Chang (who doesn’t know the Chinese language and have been to China maybe a couple of time). Gordon Chang is still considered as a China economy expert at Forbes magazine. Do authors of these articles share the same China research qualification, or as events had shown lack of qualification? Let’s face it, would you take investment advice on the US economy from someone who cannot speak English and who have never been to the country?

In predicting economic development, if an analyst predicted a stock, commodities or economy to go down, he would be forgiven if his prediction is off by a few months. However he would be seriously discredited if the opposite result happened, repeatedly. Nevertheless, in the “China is Crashing Crowd”, it is alright if the prediction is way off by one year, five year or even a decade. And to paraphrase one of my favorite movie line “Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but surely one day”.

Frankly, I don’t know how all these half truth, one quarter or one hundredth truth served its readers. Do they give a representative picture of the real China? Obviously, serious investors did not use it as a guide as China’s FDI increase tenfold from 2000 to around $120 billion in 2012. Maybe we can forgive Business Insider as it is more an amateur site like Huffington Post. However, the same trend of misreporting on China is also common on more professional site like WSJ, Forbes, The Economist, Financial Times, Business Week. What gives?

The biggest mistake any investor can make is make investment based on assumption rather than research on the ground. That’s why we see such a distortion in the English language “business” news compare to what has happened to China’s economy. Sad to say the situation has not improved but rather regressed from outright dishonest reporting to the new trend that questioned the growth of China’s economy by saying that the figure published by the government is fraudulent. Basically, they argued that China, not just the economy but social  stability is actually failing but covered up by the Chinese government. This would make things easier on bashing China since facts and figures are no longer needed to substantiate any argument.

A good example is the reporting by CBS on the ghost city Zhengzhou, where two very contrasting reports have surfaced on the internet. I highly recommend this article by Wade Shepard, titled A Journey To China’s Largest Ghost City. His website is very down to earth and represent what he sees in China, both positive and negative. Unfortunately, judging by the number of comments and hits on his video, it is obvious it is hard to attract attention if one does not use sensationalist title or report on outrageous incident. He is considered bucking the trend of not writing negatively on China and was accused by some as a paid by the government to write. His articles simply that showed China is just a country like, and unlike any other with its own peculiarity but above all similarity which make humanity so diverse.




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  1. ersim
    August 15th, 2013 at 20:50 | #1

    When it comes to western foreign policy along with public relations branch of the government aka corporate media, the late 19th century concept of the yellow peril will never go away as long as the west doesn’t see a united China disappear from the map. No matter how hard the Chinese government tries to “fit in” among the western governments, it’s always about the west dictating the Chinese government and the Chinese people how to run their lives. It’s always bad news for the west when it comes to China. A united China has always been a threat to the west.

  2. N.M.Cheung
    August 16th, 2013 at 17:47 | #2

    With the horrible events in recent days in Egypt we can make a comparison of the treatment Western government and media makes with respect to TAM. We still have a non-coup event for U.S. government and continuing $1.9 billion annual military aids to Egypt, while China was sanctioned by West and any military sells was stopped. We have media still exaggerating the deaths in TAM because they consider Chinese figures to be unreliable by definition while the casualty figures in Egypt is already many times that of China. We have reports justifying the massacres in Egypt and praised by some Egyptian liberals as necessary for democracy with no endgame in sight, while China has restored order in days and last 34 years of economic growth dismissed as bribery and hundreds of millions of people out of poverty as irrelevant and collapse just around the corner.

  3. pug_ster
    August 17th, 2013 at 04:51 | #3


    As sad as the incidents happenings in Egypt are, I do have to look at the bright side. Western propaganda didn’t mention much about TAM when they talk about what happened in Egypt. However, Western Propaganda seems to be against protesters asking protesters like asking one protester, “why do you go there knowing that you will be shot at.” Also, a news headline in nbcnews: “Brother of al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri arrested in Egypt – security sources”

  4. JJ
    August 17th, 2013 at 08:01 | #4

    Good post Ray!

    Also that guy’s website is pretty good. I can’t believe some commenters are calling him biased, especially since he also has some posts that confirm certain areas are virtually abandoned, like the mall.

    Makes me wonder if those commenters are paid shills themselves, trying to make some money on bad news from China?

  5. August 18th, 2013 at 10:51 | #5

    There is now a consensus on mainstream western press that nothing good can be said about China’s current political and economical model. In other words, if you say anything remotely neutral and not negative you are painted as a shill.

    In history, unrestrained and unfounded negativity to the Jewish people lead to the holocaust. The Chinese is the new Jew but they don’t seems to get it. To them, there is no repercussion saying anti-Chinese statement. They are of the believe that the Chinese are true evil much like they believe the Jew to be.

  6. ersim
    August 18th, 2013 at 13:24 | #6

    I find your comparison of the Chinese to “Jews” very intriguing. Why such a comparison?

  7. August 19th, 2013 at 08:17 | #7

    The Jewish people are not just persecuted in Germany, in fact all of Europe has discriminatory policies against time. It didn’t happen overnight but accumulated through the centuries, to the extent that MOST European think very negatively about them. The Holocaust happened because population of Nazi occupied countries collaborated with the Nazi in turning them out. However, in Denmark and Albania, very few Jews were arrested as the general population help hide them.

    Today, if all these negative articles about China is about Israel and Jewish people, people in the west would scream racism.

  8. ersim
    August 19th, 2013 at 18:46 | #8

    @Ray correct me if i’m wrong, are you comparing the western yellow peril with so called “anti-semitism”? If i’m not, is such a comparison too far-fetched?

  9. JJ
    August 20th, 2013 at 10:00 | #9


    That’s an interesting parallel. I’ve also read that the racist policies that were once (still?) used to limit the number of Jews in elite colleges are now used on Asian Americans.

    Here’s an interesting article on it:


    In a 2009 study of more than 9,000 students who applied to selective universities, the sociologists Thomas J. Espenshade and Alexandria Walton Radford found that white students were three times more likely to be admitted than Asians with the same academic record.

    Sound familiar? In the 1920s, as high-achieving Jews began to compete with WASP prep schoolers, Ivy League schools started asking about family background and sought vague qualities like “character,” “vigor,” “manliness” and “leadership” to cap Jewish enrollment. These unofficial Jewish quotas weren’t lifted until the early 1960s, as the sociologist Jerome Karabel found in his 2005 history of admissions practices at Harvard, Yale and Princeton.

    In the 1920s, people asked: will Harvard still be Harvard with so many Jews? Today we ask: will Harvard still be Harvard with so many Asians?

  10. Black Pheonix
    August 20th, 2013 at 16:08 | #10


    I agree.

    Also look at how Asian students and businesses are being accused of “cheating” (or even “IP theft”), it has a strong parallel to similar anti-Semitic stereotypes of the 1920’s of that Jewish students and traders “cheat”.

    Asians are just the new target for the racists, who otherwise cannot openly express their hidden anti-Semitic feelings.

    But really, any time a group of minorities out-compete the majority group, there is immediately the accusation that “they must be cheating.”

    On the other hand, when the majority is on par, the minorities are portrayed as still “backward.”

  11. ersim
    August 21st, 2013 at 07:51 | #11

    I do find the NYT article interesting in relation to the parallel between yellow peril and anti-semitism when it comes to student admissions in Ivy League universities as an example. Was thinking more about how both are related of being an “economic threat” to westerners. I guess Ray threw me off in mentioning the Jewish Holocaust in comparing China as an “economic threat”. Wondering also if Ray is trying to connect “yellow peril” with the “Jewish conspiracy”. Thanks

  12. August 21st, 2013 at 08:33 | #12

    Actually, I am looking simply from the discrimination angle. The subject matter of comparing “anti-Semitism” and “yellow peril” is simply too complicated to go through quickly. What I am saying is when the negative stereotype become accepted as the normal attribute of a group of people when bad things is done collective against them, there would be very little sympathy and outrage.

    Like I have said, discrimination against the Jew was rife not just in Europe but also North America. The case of MS St. Louis is a prominent example. If the discrimination and the defamation of the Chinese people continue unchecked I won’t be surprised if it become another anti-Chinese legislation (US congress specifically mentioned one country, China cannot be included in the International Space Station program). Yes, this is indeed extreme example but if we look back into history the detention against the Japanese American was barely 70 years ago. The case of Wen Ho Lee also proved that when ethnicity is an issue the rule of law will be bend.

  13. Zack
    August 21st, 2013 at 16:44 | #13

    these events also demonstrate that in the case of countries like the West, power is the only thing these people respect and acknowledge.
    Congress didn’t care about the human rights of Chinese civilians when anti Chinese legislation was enacted, and it’s only the sheer power of China that’s inducing some American politians to become more forthcoming vis-a-vis China

  14. ersim
    August 22nd, 2013 at 12:36 | #14

    You’re focus was more how the so called “rule of law”, that the west, and their non-western apologists, enjoy promoting to the rest of the world, is used against a certain group of people as a cover for blatant racist campaign. I get it. Thanks.

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