So how do people in China perceive the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal?

I’ve been wondering about that for some time, and this new article helps shed some light on their reaction to Abu Ghraib. It looks at what China’s Netizens are saying on the country’s message boards, and it’s very interesting.

The graphic images of Iraqi prisoners being abused have evoked condemnation of the US from almost every corner of the globe. That too would have been the predictable reaction from China. As a country which has been on the receiving end of regular American criticism for its human rights violations, the torture revelations present a clear opportunity to return the ‘favor’.

China’s official media and many of its citizens have lived up to that expectation. Surprisingly, however, many of China’s internet users have turned the Abu Ghraib prison scandal into a lesson in the value of a free press and government accountability – two features of the US system that are sorely lacking in China.

….[A]lthough the People’s Daily network chose to publicize only those internet postings that fit this established pattern of anti-U.S. criticism, the postings as a whole show a wide diversity of opinion among Chinese netizens. Many people have derided the US as hypocritical, but others have taken this opportunity to hint at China’s own difficulties in this area….

Far from eliciting a simple, one-sided anti-US stance, the US torture revelations are providing fodder for wide-ranging discussions on human rights, democracy, and the role of the media.

In the more than 500 comments on the Iraqi prisoner torture posted in the past week, about 45 percent expressed a clear anti-American sentiment. Yet one-fourth of the postings praised the US media for its role in exposing the abuse and criticized China’s press for not being able to do the same on problems at home. What’s more, over a third of all postings included some sort of praise for America’s democratic political system.

Lots of the posts were also highly anti-US, the article says, but that’s not surprising. And it was refreshing to read how many are responding to such comments by noting that at least in America the truth can come out and the government be held accountable.

The Discussion: One Comment

Words of Mass Deception

Piers Morgan, the talented but dangerously stubborn editor of Britain’s ‘Daily Mirror’ tabloid newspaper has been fired by his board of directors. He had refused to resign after the newspaper published photographs of what appeared to be British soldier…

May 15, 2004 @ 10:05 am | Comment

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.