CRI: a Foreign Expert meets his Censor

rhombic antenna

easy listening

Keith Perron: When I was at China Radio International, I was doing many different things in different departments. I wasn’t just working for the external service, but I was also working for the domestic service, and this is where it got really strange. I used to do the afternoon slot, and it was live, and in the control room, I could see there were two windows – there was one window that was looking over the corridor, and then there was another window overlooking this little room with this old man wearing a blue lab coat, and I have to tell you that China Radio International technicians still wear lab coats.

Colin Newell: Well, I wear a lab coat!

Keith Perron: Yeah, but for very different reasons, you know! And I was seeing this guy there every day and it was curiosity. I said I have to find out what he is doing. So during the news break and the chance to have some water, I headed over there, and I walked into the room, and I could hear from the speaker the same thing that I can hear in my studio. And I started talking to him in Chinese, and I said, what is it… what are you doing here. He said, well, I’m the censor for your show! And I said, oh, really, and he said, yeah, you know, if you say something inappropriate, we have this red button here, I push this red button which sends a signal to this tape machine, which just starts playing classical music. And I said how fascinating, fascinating, is there a seven-second delay or anything? And he said, what’s that? You know, so I thought there was a seven-second delay. So then I went back to the room, as the news had ended, and I thought, I feel so sorry for this guy. He sits there for three hours having to listen to me and, you know, drink his tea, do the crosswords puzzles, it’s rather boring. So I decided to say Hello to him. Well, I did that, and I didn’t get a reaction. And I thought, this is odd. OK, so I waited a little bit and then, before we went to the top of the hour, and the news, I said, well, I’ll play a song for the poor guy, I said, I’ll play the song dedicated to the guy sitting across in the other room with a blue lab coat and drinking his tea – still no reaction! So when the news was on, I went back, and I said, oh, you know, we talked again, and I said, how much English do you speak? And he said, none. And I said, wait a second, you speak no English, and he said, yeah, yeah, yeah, a little, little, little. So Collin, think about it, this guy is going to censor what I’m saying on a show that is in English – he can’t speak or understand it.

Keith Perron in a one-on-one interview with Colin Newell,, first aired on Media Corp, Singapore, May 30, 2010

4 Responses to “CRI: a Foreign Expert meets his Censor”

  1. This was funny and sad at the same time…


  2. Yeah. Besides, maybe Chinese censorship is either very confident that foreigners won’t say anything inappropriate, or they don’t really care in advance about what is said on the airwaves, so long as it isn’t said in Chinese.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: