How Chinese Media become Themselves again

Schizophrenic no more: the Little Dragon's Exhilarating Self-Help Emancipation.

Schizophrenic no more: the Little Dragon's Exhilarating Self-Help Emancipation.

The “Global Times” (GT) had  originally set out to be more worldly-wise than Chinese publications for a domestic readership – after all, propaganda that is meant to convince foreigners has to be more subtle than, say, the Chinese-language edition of People’s Daily. That, anyway, would correspond with the CCP’s logic, which tries to make people in- and outside China believe that Chinese  citizens are too innocent to look at the world without strong, protective ideological sunglasses.

In their beginnings, they even mentioned June 4, 1989 at the GT. It seemed to be a reasonably safe thing to do, as long as this was only published in English.

Back then, JR read in that paper that the Global Times English edition  wanted to show

how China is closely connected to global affairs, and at the same time presenting the complexity and fascination of China to the world.

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1. A GT Editorial about the Internet’s “Western Cultural Pattern”

(March 25, 2011)

But under the propaganda department’s newly adjusted and still correct political guidance, the GT is now exploring the limits of China’s connections to global affairs:

The Internet has brought so many benefits for China. Its rapid growth here proves that Chinese and Western societies share much more in common than previously imagined.

However, the Internet often calls for instant change in China, to narrow the gap between Chinese and Western societies. This is impractical, and the revision of some Internet rules inevitably take place. This is a natural and nearly instinctive need based on China’s social reality. However, this need has often become politicized.

I’m not sure if the “politicization” of “this need” is blamed on foreigners, if it is meant in a neutral way (just a surprising natural phenomenon), or if politicization refers to the CCP – the party which, after all, sees everything in a political light. The article’s following paragraphs seem to provide no clues either.

Nor does the second paragraph make much sense:

Stemming from Western society, the Internet has a Western cultural pattern that China has copied thoroughly. Friction and maladjustment inevitably take place as China syncs up with the Internet. This is bound to be a process of mutual change and compromise.

Without some scientific explanations, this introduction is useless. After all, the internet is just the internet. It isn’t particularly Western or Chinese. An automobile isn’t particularly Western or Chinese, either. Only its brand makes a car somewhat more sortable. But the internet has no brand. Politicized, eh?

JR isn’t going to conduct a scientific survey of the GT’s past nine-hundred or so editorials – what strikes him is that GT articles now seem to care much more about expressing the CCP’s political volition, than about selling the consequences of such volition to foreigners.

In JR’s view, this actually makes the GT a much more informative read than what it had previously been. Its new approach could help foreigners to understand China better, just as Radio Beijing, before the 1990s, resembled domestic media coverage and propaganda more closely than it did in more recent years, under the name China Radio International (CRI). Radio Beijing (or Radio Peking, even earlier) gave foreigners a more accurate picture of how Chinese domestic media address their audience.

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2. A GT Editorial about “Keeping High Public Satisfaction”

(March 24, 2011)

The editorial of Thursday, i. e. one day earlier than the one referred to above, could be translated into Chinese and then be republished by domestic papers. Chinese readers would hardly notice that it had originally been written for foreign readers.

Compare the article with “Reality you can Believe in” – a translation from the GT’s Chinese edition (Huanqiu Shibao) -, for example. It could be the same author, addressing exactly the same readership.

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3. A GT Editorial about “Odyssey Dawn”

(March 23, 2011)

Libya, pain, chaos, evident realities, and Western attempts to deceive China. Who needs to teach foreign readers about Western ulterior motives? Isn’t this carrying coals to Newcastle? After all, we, the foreign readers ourselves, are exactly those wretched people who want to deceive the gullible Chinese netizens and shortwave listeners, aren’t we? So why should we want to read a GT rehash of our own schemes?

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Don’t get JR wrong. The “Global Times” is doing something it should have done from the beginning, to be really useful to its foreign readers. It’s beginning to work as a bridge between the Chinese “public” (as it functions in the country’s domestic media), and the outside world. It could almost become a competitor to JR’s Beautiful (Bridge) Blog, with Chinese articles translated – or transposed – into English. The GT won’t even have to hire foreigners anymore.

GT could make itself useful, if it continues on this path, if it continues to give us foreigners a more authentic idea of how the Chinese mass media view the world. But then again, maybe JR’s taste is so weird that many other GT readers will feel differently.

4 Responses to “How Chinese Media become Themselves again”

  1. Been trying to decode your new sketch JR. To my visually unsophisticated mind, it looks like a love child produced by a Ku Klux Klanner and that character in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

    Dead serious. Either way, I’m not inviting him to my next birthday party.

    Foreigners working for Chinese media outlets. I had a coronary when watching CCTV one night, and there was one of my favourite and very credible Oz news readers Edwin Maher trotting out rosy PRC statistics. Immediately traded the tv for a carton of beer.

    Like

  2. Bollocks – you’d better find out very quickly what this sketch is really showing. It’s my masterpiece to date, and misinterpretations will spoil this household’s Saturday qi.

    Yeah, Edwin Maher… I overheard the storm of indignation when he started working for CCTV International. There are certain things news anchors simply shouldn’t do. But then, one of Germany’s paramount newsreaders once fell for the dream of becoming a Hollywood diva by impersonating Karin Göring (Hermann Goering‘s wife in the movie “The Populist”. She gave up her news job for it when faced with the choice between Hamburg or Hollywood, but the Karin Göring role never materialized.

    And the public, as far as I can see, had a helluva time of it. We laughed our asses off. 🙂

    Like

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