Extended Travel Thread

Update: I am moving this thread back to the top as I’m about to go on the road again, leaving the comfort of lovely Yangshuo for a more rugged trip to Guizhou. If any of you have any spots in Guizhou to recommend please let me know!

I’ll be leaving late tonight for China and will probably be posting sparsely after I arrive. (Getting onto this blocked site is always a nightmare, VPNs are so slow nowadays in China.) Please leave comments, links, reflections on life here. I’ll be back in about three weeks, so I expect traffic to slow to a trickle. Have fun, play nice.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 96 Comments

Nationalism is an emotion that makes FQ subrational and weakens their arguments

When it comes to China, of course I’m biased, of course I’m a nationalist. I’m a narrow-minded Chinese nationalist. I use narrow-minded here in a positive sense, I am not an “internationalist” who “Transcends boundaries”. My thinking, my logic, my rationale are all bound by the narrow confines of my sentiments towards China.

So yes, of course our discussions will be irrational, because we are in different teams, we have conflicting interests. I want my children to grow up in a China-dominated world, you don’t. I want 1.3 billion Chinese to have access to the same level of resource consumption as Americans. I want my Chinese children to grow up working in air-conditioned offices and doing power point slides and earning million dollar salaries while exploiting the slave labor of other nations. I want China to move all of its environment-polluting factories to other countries so my children don’t have to breathe in dirty air. I want China to occupy some lands of foreign nations if possible and exploit their resources and labor. I want China to be the evil and nasty empire the US is and Britain was.

So yes, I’m irrational. There are certain issues where your thinking is bound by which team you are on. And I admit it freely.

April 13, 2011 @ 10:32 am | Comment

@Mike,

You can always find numerous anti-war blogs, websites, etc, but they were inconsequential and more or less ignored when LEADING UP TO THE WARS.

I was in DC witnessing the anti-war demonstrations when led up to the Iraq war, it was quite a big one. But when I read the news in MAJOR news outlets such as NYT, WSJ, reporting of demonstrations was very much muted, and with lots of counter-balancing material. The reporting of alledged supporting evidence or “leaks” are much more prominent and reported as very assertively. Most people I met then, even quite a lot of liberal ones, support the Iraq invasions, citing the “evidence” on the news. That’s my “Woa” moment on US media.

To be fair, I think BBC is more balanced than NYT and I probably err by equivalenting US media with “Western” media.

@slim,

I really do not enjoy your ad-hominem attacks. But to answer your question, I do read a VARIETY of news sources, ranging full spectrum from NYT, BBC, AJ to Global Times and dear old People’s daily. Faux News is the only thing I don’t check frequently.

Fully aware of the bias of each source, it is much easier for me to see the big picture than somebody who blindly trusts certain news sources’ “fair and balanced” reporting.

April 13, 2011 @ 11:54 am | Comment

To NotFQ #41 and #46:
“but all the different opinions are orbiting around the official line.”
—let’s be clear that we are once again speaking of opinions. But in the context of the usual refrain of “western media bias”, if we are basing such assessments on media “opinions”, then as I’ve said many times before, a call of “bias” basically means nothing more than disagreeing with someone else’s opinion. And that is precisely as deep, or as shallow, as FQ go when they conclude media “bias”. It is nothing more than representing disagreement with the official media opinion…never mind that there is no such thing.
Remember also several things. First, and in an ideal world, government should represent majority opinion. Second, media is in the business of catering to eyeballs. If the prevailing opinion on foreign issues blows in the same direction, then you would expect “government positions” and “media opinions” to follow suit. If there is a divide in public opinion, the government still has to take a stand. In this case, perhaps some ambiguity in media opinion might naturally better-represent the public. However, you are still reading the opinion of the person writing any given article, and if his/her opinion closely resembles the government opinion on any given issue, well, that’s his/her opinion. If you don’t like it, you are always free to read someone else’s.

I am not sure if you expect/demand a diversity of opinions on any and all foreign issues. If you do, then I am unsure as to the basis for such demands or expectations. You can’t command people to acquire diverse and divergent opinions. Their opinions are what they are.

As Mike and Raj point out, it is not only disingenuous to make sweeping statements about US media, but even moreso to generalize what happens in the US to the entirety of “the west” (whatever that is).

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To Jason #45:
you’re gonna have to try that again in English. I guess doing a face plant off a mountain bike didn’t necessarily help your English skills.

I don’t dispute that the US has human rights issues. The point is that it neither obscures nor diminishes the indisputable fact that China has loads of human rights issues of her own. And like I’ve said many times before, to try to justify China’s behaviour by saying the US does such and such is no different than that 5 year old “Billy” in the playground. It’s high time for CCP apologists to be less juvenile.

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To Red Star #47:
“What you do think motivates the US State Dept to embark on such a project year after year?”
—as Slim notes, it’s a Congressional requirement. So the motivation is likely several-fold. They want to comply with the law. And since it’s a congressional request, they’re trying to satisfy congress, and by extension, Americans. I know I know, foreign concept for CCP apologists. There is probably a humanitarian aspect. And there is probably an angle for furthering American interests…”political”, if you will.

Let’s face it, getting the upper hand against the CCP when it comes to human rights is not exactly rocket science. It is leadership in a sense, since, as the adage goes, you can’t solve a problem unless you identify it and acknowledge its existence. How is the CCP doing in that regard, do you think?

And once again, you’re treating it like a game, which speaks volumes about you as a person (not a pretty sight, in case you’re wondering). If a problem is identified in CHina, you would rather simply use the same “strategy” and accuse the US of exactly the same thing. Well, that’s brilliant stuff. However, any thought to actually rectifying the problem, such that the basis for the strategy itself is removed? Ever thought of that? Like I said earlier (and which you completely whiffed on), CCP apologists are more concerned with the game, rather than the problem. WHy is that? Pointing out the US has the “same” problems (never mind the tenuous basis for such claims) does not solve those problems in China. So what you need to ask yourself is this: do you want to solve problems in CHina, or are you more interested in playing games? Well, the latter does dovetail nicely with those juvenile tendencies often on display.

If you want to assess the effectiveness of the xinhua strategy, the answer is simple and twofold. Certainly, it is completely ineffective in actually addressing the problems in China. But on top of that, thanks to xinhua’s sterling international reputation as a source of reliable journalism, the counter-accusations don’t go very far in terms of the “game” either.

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To Red Star #51:
you wrote that as though you are living in China. Is that actually the case? (cuz I don’t think so, but please correct me if I’m wrong).

Your assertion is ridiculous. There is no need for one to be “irrational” in support of anything. It is beyond stupid to suggest that one needs to throw reason out the window if one wants to see Chinese people thrive. About the only people I’ve seen who require the benefit of being “irrational” are people who are pro-CCP, and that is very different from being pro-Chinese people.

April 13, 2011 @ 12:54 pm | Comment

@NotFQ
“Most people I met then, even quite a lot of liberal ones, support the Iraq invasions, citing the “evidence” on the news. That’s my “Woa” moment on US media.”
I’ll take it they weren’t French then…
Regarding the Iraq war (Bush Jnr’s one) here’s an interesting Wiki entry
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protests_against_the_Iraq_War
“After the biggest series of demonstrations, on February 15, 2003, New York Times writer Patrick Tyler claimed that they showed that there were two superpowers on the planet, the United States and worldwide public opinion.[1]
These demonstrations against the war were mainly organized by anti-war organizations, many of whom had been formed in opposition to the invasion of Afghanistan. In some Arab countries demonstrations were organized by the state. Europe saw the biggest mobilization of protesters, including a rally of three million people in Rome, which is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest ever anti-war rally.[2]”

You might also be interested in this
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/February_15,_2003_anti-war_protest
I missed all this as I had already emigrated…but I can tell you that no one I knew was for this war.

I think you might have to be very careful how you define western….

April 13, 2011 @ 1:16 pm | Comment

Oh, forgot to add – I read about these protests in the media of the countries involved. All UK papers covered them, including those that supported the government….

This is interesting too
http://www.johannhari.com/2011/04/08/we-are-not-being-told-the-truth-about-libya
Oh, just a blog, you’ll think. Inconsequential, even…. but it’s in the Independent – a major UK paper. He’s rather well known too….and exposing hypocricy like this, well, how long would he last in China?
😉

April 13, 2011 @ 1:21 pm | Comment

@SK,

“Second, media is in the business of catering to eyeballs.”

You are hiting the nail on its head. I guess we do not need the facade of the motto “Fair and Balanced”.

Yes, that’s what Faux News does. Would you call it the golden standard of journalism?!

“If the prevailing opinion on foreign issues blows in the same direction, then you would expect “government positions” and “media opinions” to follow suit.”

That’s the definition of “bias”, i.e. opinionated news, not “fair and balanced”. This is exactly the reason mainstream US media are turning disappoiting Chinese who are naive enough to believe they are unbiased.

But more than that, as in my experience in #52, the mainstream are CREATING consensus for the government, which I call it propaganda.

Both you and Mike mentioned that people can turn to alternative sites. For me it’s more or less window-dressing. Yes, you can go to some obscure websites to find news with vastly different viewpoint. But these websites are not going to make much impact anyway. MOST average Joe’s do not go there, and their opinions (especially foreign policy) are formed by the nainstream media/propaganda.

April 13, 2011 @ 1:25 pm | Comment

@Mike,

Thanks for pointing these wiki pages to me.

I was in US at that time, so the “liberal” ones are Americans, not French. I was genuinely surprised at the fact that even they are taking NYT’s WMD report without much of doubt. Some of them even like the “Freedom Fries” notion…

I do not dispute that these protests were reported, I read them on NYT myself then. But the reporting was given much less significance than it should be and the “evidence” of WMD provided by the US government was taken at face value without any doubt.

UK media is likely better in this sense according to the wiki link you provided but I don’t follow them as closely.

April 13, 2011 @ 1:39 pm | Comment

Math,

I continue to be a big fan of your posts. Not only because of the engineering angle (I’m determined by my profession to agree with you) but also the graphical language and the beautiful metaphors. It’s a world of dead (or dying) dogs, metal sticks, sex (as well as strange noises from the studio to indicate presence thereof) and complex love affairs. But my personal favorite has to be this one:

“no CCP official would blink twice before beating him to a pulp and farting on his face.”

I like the farting part. The only thing I miss is any mention of toilets, which seems to be quite popular with you and your friends. Come on now, I’m sure you can do better next time! Please include those references. Thanks,

April 13, 2011 @ 2:06 pm | Comment

“the facade of the motto “Fair and Balanced”.”
—actually, this too is in the eye of the beholder. What’s fair and balanced to one may not be to another. The types who enjoy Fox News may find it plenty fair and balanced.

“That’s the definition of “bias”, i.e. opinionated news,”
—actually, you’ve missed the distinction. There’s “news”. And then there’s “opinion” (my usual example is the Op-Ed section of NYT, for instance). When people call “bias”, usually the objection is against the opinion pieces. At times, the objection may be against the proportion of coverage given to certain events vs others, but in my observation, this is the distinct minority. If people can’t distinguish between “news” and “opinion”, that is the fault of the consumer. If Chinese people cannot make such a distinction, some of the blame can readily be laid at the feet of the CCP, for prohibiting Chinese people from acquiring the experience and knowledge necessary to make such distinctions.

“the mainstream are CREATING consensus for the government, which I call it propaganda.”
—how are they doing this? When are they doing this? The only example that comes to mind is the lead up to the Iraq invasion under GWB. In that case, although part of the blame is with the government for not disclosing information fully, blame can certainly be attributed to media for buying the government line much too casually, without a critical eye nor any cynicism. As did Colin Powell, I might add. But one glaring mistake does not a pattern make. The same obviously cannot be said of the CCP/xinhua etc.

What you are arguing is becoming chicken/egg. You are suggesting that, if given a different set of opinions, people/Americans would buy them. You would believe that rather than acknowledge the possibility that perhaps people/Americans simply choose to consume opinions that mirror their own. I am willing to accept that both may occur, at different times, for different people. But your seeming suggestion that it’s all one and none of the other seems…well…rather biased.

April 13, 2011 @ 2:18 pm | Comment

To WKL,
good to see you. Ahh, the potty-talk. High brow stuff. Brings back memories of the wingnut known as wahaha on FM. Haven’t seen him around these parts. Pity.

April 13, 2011 @ 2:22 pm | Comment

Saddam himself went into hiding believing he still had WMD and behaved as if he had things to hide from UN inspectors. European governments that opposed the invasion for various other reasons also believed the intel that Saddam still had WMD. Without opening the whole Iraq can of worms, it is worth repeating SKC’s observation that one mistake does not make a pattern.

Chinese nationalists project the habits, agenda and role of Chinese media onto the media of other countries. (How could they think differently?) A mainland Chinese newspaper or TV station IS the unvarnished (or slightly varnished) voice of the ruling party and on “sensitive issues” they are nothing more. They still fall under the Propaganda Bureau. This was true in KMT-ruled Taiwan until the early 1990s. This is by Leninist design and it continues to serve the party well.

April 13, 2011 @ 4:41 pm | Comment

To Slim,
that’s an interesting take. When Chinese “media” agree with the CCP, it’s because they have to. And that’s what CCP apologists are accustomed to. So when they come to “America”, they can’t reconcile the possibility that, when “American media” agree with the man, it’s because they choose to do so. They hear that “American media” is supposedly free, but see that said media agrees with government, and based on their upbringing, can only imagine that they are agreeing out of duress, and this assumption on the part of the apologists somehow disproves the notion of a free press. They fail to realize that the disconnect is within themselves, rather than in the concept of press freedom. To parlay a phrase (poorly), you can take an apologist out of CCP China, but you can’t take the CCP out of the apologist.

April 14, 2011 @ 4:56 am | Comment

@SKC,

We agree that there’s no “unbiased” news sources. Nobody would consider Op-Ed’s as fair and balanced, so I guess you are shooting into the air. Nevertheless, NEWS can easily be made biased by using different tones and selective covering one side of story.

The key here is try to read from media with different biases to offset that, this is called CRITICAL THINKING, hardly a communist relic.

“can only imagine that they are agreeing out of duress, ” What a strawman argument. Please find some idiots would agree with such silly thinking.

“when “American media” agree with the man, it’s because they choose to do so.” This is still bias. To make the matter worse, the reason they choose to do so is not that saintly. As you mentioned in previous posts, “American media” needs to attract viewers and advertisers, so they cater to the perceived view of their readers and advertisers. Yes, no duress, but money talks. BTW this is the reason Faux News is so commercially successful recently.

@slim,
Don’t dismiss the Iraq’s coverage as a one-off event, it’s just the worst one.

In running up to Libya war recently, I can still see the hidden agenda at work in persuading general public to support it. The way the reports are structured successfully persuaded most people to support it even there are record budget deficit.

Reporting on Chinese demonstrations leads to Olympic is another one: even though the pro-China demonstration has way more participants than anti-China ones by probably more than 10 to 1, all US media I have seen covers it as if most demonstrators were anti-China.

April 14, 2011 @ 9:30 am | Comment

“We agree that there’s no “unbiased” news sources”
—obviously, if you want to speak in absolutes, then no, there are no “unbiased” news sources, since humans cannot be completely unbiased, and humans cover and report the news. As I said, in selecting what news to cover, and how much time/space to dedicate to one story vs another, human bias can creep in. However, as I also said, the usual FQ rant is about “opinions” rather than news, and they are either too stupid to realize the difference, or too indoctrinated to care.

“Nobody would consider Op-Ed’s as fair and balanced,”
—you’re missing the point. The point is that nobody SHOULD EXPECT op-eds to be fair and balanced. You are reading the author’s opinion. You can agree with him/her, or not. But “fair and balanced” is a completely non-sensical metric to employ when evaluating an opinion piece.

“NEWS can easily be made biased by using different tones and selective covering one side of story.”
—and if NEWS is presented in such a way, then that bias should not be hard to detect. NEWS that is easily made to be biased can easily be recognized as such. So I am not sure where you’re going with that.

I’m all for critical thinking. I’m not sure how that relates to “communist relic”. But critical thinking is often not in abundant supply among the FQ. These same FQ are usually the ones who use op-ed pieces to exemplify media bias, so I am not at all convinced that such esteemed individuals are even capable of discerning which way is up, much less engage in critical thinking.

“What a strawman argument.”
—you took part of one sentence out of the entire paragraph, and cast a label on it? No idea what you’re trying to prove…but suffice it to say you’re not really proving it.

““when “American media” agree with the man, it’s because they choose to do so.” This is still bias. To make the matter worse, the reason they choose to do so is not that saintly. As you mentioned in previous posts, “American media” needs to attract viewers and advertisers, so they cater to the perceived view of their readers and advertisers. Yes, no duress, but money talks. BTW this is the reason Faux News is so commercially successful recently.”
—what on god’s green earth are you rambling on non-sensically about now? I suggest that American media has choice, and you say that’s biased. But then you add that the motivation for the choices they make isn’t “saintly”. Well, aren’t you being biased in saying that? Besides, although media may be free, I’ve never heard them claim to be “saintly”…that is just a completely vague yet entirely irrelevant metric to introduce out of thin air.
Yes, American media is a business. They do cater to what their viewers want to see and hear. Didn’t you just shoot yourself in the foot by admitting to that? You were trying to say that American media is the propaganda organ of the US government. Well, how can that be, if American media is just giving the consumers of American media what they want?
You then agree with my suggestion that American media acts not out of “duress”, when, barely one paragraph earlier, you were calling it a strawman, and suggesting that I should find “some idiots (who) would agree with such silly thinking.” Well, thanks to you, it looks like I just did.

So, you start with ‘American media spreads propaganda on behalf of the government’. Now you’re saying ‘money talks and American media are in the dirty business of making money’. Do you realize that, in the course of 24 hours, you’ve gone from accusing the “American media” of one thing, to accusing it of another? For a guy who fancies himself as “notFQ”, you sure argue like one.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

“I can still see the hidden agenda at work ”
—LOL, who is harbouring biases now? You see what you want to see, and that is your prerogative. But once again, the concept is creeping in whereby you will consider American media to be biased unless you agree with what they say, and how they say it. And as I’ve said before, that is the typical FQ calling card. I think my #62 is beginning to describe you more and more.

April 14, 2011 @ 10:28 am | Comment

@NotFQ
“In running up to Libya war recently, I can still see the hidden agenda at work in persuading general public to support it. The way the reports are structured successfully persuaded most people to support it even there are record budget deficit.”

I dunno – hoping you’re talking about the US press. Admittedly calling one side rebels and not covering the other rebellions as closely does expose the paper’s editorial bias – however, that jst shows the medium in question is in agreement with the government on this one issue and not that the government is controlling the medium.
Judging by the published comments, the message isn’t really getting through. Maybe the comments should be “harmonised” for better effect…
I am also sorry but I’ll have to join SKC in smiling at the “hidden agenda” – if the paper is for war, the agenda isn’t hidden as the editorial content expresses it. As far as I can tell, the US is most definitely not interested in getting overly involved in the Libyan war – Obama seems content to let Cameron and Sarkozy to do the “protecting” (of civilians…etc, etc) – and even the rebels in Libya are not satisfied (and this after they assured us they “could do it alone – just give us air cover”). Back to the agenda, all the press I read tell me that the politicians have an agenda wrt Libya. Symapthy, yes, to the rebels and a healthy distrust of Gadafi (he has past history in the UK) but no to troops there…

April 14, 2011 @ 11:38 am | Comment

@SK,

““NEWS can easily be made biased by using different tones and selective covering one side of story.”
—and if NEWS is presented in such a way, then that bias should not be hard to detect. NEWS that is easily made to be biased can easily be recognized as such.”

It’s hard to detect for you because you have the same bias as them; the reports fit your belief nicely. It’s not hard for me to detect because I read coverage from different sources and am able to tell it. That’s the CRITICAL THINKING I am talking about — get MANY sources but be critical to EVERY of them.

“So, you start with ‘American media spreads propaganda on behalf of the government’. Now you’re saying ‘money talks and American media are in the dirty business of making money’”

You seem to be unable to connect the dots. Sorry for overstimating your ablity of reading comprehension. Let me do it for you:
‘American media SOMETIMES spreads propaganda on behalf of the government’ is because they believe spreading a particular set of propaganda is good for business and want to be successful as commercial organizations. Are there any conflicts?!

Somehow you also try to equate the word “duress” with seeking commercial success. So in your definition, seeking commercial success is equivalent to “agreeing under duress”, what a stretch.

“Nobody would consider Op-Ed’s as fair and balanced,”
—you’re missing the point. The point is that nobody SHOULD EXPECT op-eds to be fair and balanced. ”
Can you read?! I meant I DO NOT consider the bias in op-ed’s to be important, I don’t expect that either. Only the bias in the news coverage counts.

April 14, 2011 @ 11:59 am | Comment

“It’s hard to detect for you because you have the same bias as them; the reports fit your belief nicely. It’s not hard for me to detect because I read coverage from different sources and am able to tell it. ”

So..there’s some news sources that you do agree with? And they don’t agree with what other news sources “suggest”?
Isn’t that a bias too?
Like you, I read a whole heap too – but finidng hidden agendae is really hard (unless it’s so blatant as to, ahem, not be hidden. People already have a preconception of how things should be in their head (I know I do), so are you sure this “hidden agenda” isn’t just your bias agains the publications you don’t agree with?

April 14, 2011 @ 12:14 pm | Comment

@Mike,

Well, I guess the word “hidden agenda” touched somebody’s nerve. I meant besides the overt editorial support, the news coverage also helps the cause. For people that do not read critically, these coverage can slowly win overs policy supporters.

BTW, I have much more respect for BBC than NYT because of its relatively balanced view. Surely I have zero respect for Fox.

As of “harmonization”, it’s the stupidity of the Chinese propaganda department. No opposition, no creditabliity. A low level of opposition usually helps legitimacy.

April 14, 2011 @ 12:22 pm | Comment

@Mike,

“So..there’s some news sources that you do agree with? And they don’t agree with what other news sources “suggest”?”

To be honest, I don’t agree with any news source. But this is missing the point.

I use news to understand the current world affair, but not want to be subject to propaganda.

I use different news source to compare and compose, try to find common denominators, which I establish as the baseline.

I would add info from sources that I believe that will not lie but just biased coverage. NYT, WSJ come into my mind for this sense. AJ a little less so and People’s daily even less so, but they usually provide quite valuable info that NYT, WSJ would like to omit.

I am fully aware of my own bias on different topics and

April 14, 2011 @ 12:31 pm | Comment

“It’s not hard for me to detect because I read coverage from different sources and am able to tell it. That’s the CRITICAL THINKING I am talking about — get MANY sources but be critical to EVERY of them.”
—absolutely, using multiple sources is good. And certainly, “critical thinking” is great. However, people like you see bias not on the basis of the source, but on the basis of the content. So when you read something you don’t like, it’s “biased”. When you read something you do like, it’s not biased. That’s not critical thinking…that’s selective thinking. You would not be the first FQ to rail against the NYT, for example, only to quote from that very same source when the material suits you. It has always amused me why people complain about a media establishment, then turn around and quote from that establishment that was supposedly afflicted with bias to begin with. You have thus far done nothing to resolve that amusement for me.

“‘American media SOMETIMES spreads propaganda on behalf of the government’ is because they believe spreading a particular set of propaganda is good for business and want to be successful as commercial organizations. Are there any conflicts?!”
—oh, ok, so now it’s “sometimes”. Any other qualifiers you would like to introduce when you are caught in a logical conundrum? BTW, if they “sometimes” spread propaganda because it’s good for their business, it implies, once again, that they are making a conscious decision to do so. I already made this point in #62: “American media” chooses to do what it does. I don’t dispute that they would choose to do things that are good for business. But that is categorically different from them being an organ of the state like Xinhua is to the CCP. And what’s good for business for media is determined by the consumers (ie. Americans) and not by the government. Media is not working on behalf of the government, though I wouldn’t quarrel if you said they worked on behalf of their shareholders.

Where, pray tell, did I “equate the word duress with seeking commercial success”? Why is it that FQ feel the constant need to argue not against what I say, but against what they hoped I had said? I never defined “duress” in #62, nor #64. So any definition you attribute to it is the imaginative product of …wait for it…your own intrinsic biases.
Besides, the reference in #62 for “agreeing out of duress” was to the mindset of people raised on the CCP way, where the media must toe the party line, and are not free to choose. The point was that, for such people accustomed to such a mindset, when you see media agreeing with government in the US, you assume they are doing the government’s bidding, cuz that’s how it works in China. People with such a mindset cannot conceive that people with choice would actually choose to agree with the government of their own volition. That’s why they think freedom of the press is a lie. In fact, the press is just making choices.

“Can you read?! I meant I DO NOT consider the bias in op-ed’s to be important,”
—yes, I can read. The problem is that you never said it, so I can’t read it. Mean what you say, but also say what you mean. I have no time for guessing at what you meant. Besides, it would require “thinking” like an FQ, and I’m not about to delve to those depths. At least you acknowledge that one should only ever contemplate making accusations of bias with regards to factual news stories, and not opinion pieces. That’s a start.

April 14, 2011 @ 2:32 pm | Comment

“However, people like you see bias not on the basis of the source, but on the basis of the content. So when you read something you don’t like, it’s “biased”. When you read something you do like, it’s not biased.”
— Wa.. It seems you have the supernatural ability of know my thinking process. Sorry, it isn’t even close. I sift out FACT for my consumption. There are facts in the contents I don’t like, but I value them as much as facts from contents I like. That sounds like your thinking process.
Nice try though. Apparently you yourself is actually a FQ who believe everybody who does not agree with you is FQ.

“then turn around and quote from that establishment that was supposedly afflicted with bias to begin with.”
— Well, biased does NOT mean lies, even propaganda does not usually need lies. I do trust that NYT report facts, that’s why sometimes I would quote them.

“Why is it that FQ feel the constant need to argue not against what I say, but against what they hoped I had said?”
–Thanks for giving me an accurate portrait of yourself.
As the sentence I wrote “Nobody would consider Op-Ed’s as fair and balanced,”, your innate belief of I am a FQ prevented you from reading carefully and instantly believed that I was using it as a sample of showing “American media” biased. — That’s what you hope I had said, not what I said.

By the way, making choice of being propaganda organ of government (well, at certain times, mostly foreign policy) does not absolve the fact that they do the propaganda.

April 15, 2011 @ 9:52 am | Comment

“It seems you have the supernatural ability of know my thinking process.”
—you are correct. I don’t know your thinking process. But i am more familiar than I ever want or need to be with the thinking process of a certain group of individuals. THis is why I said “people like you”, and not “you”.

My metric of who is and isn’t FQ has nothing to do with whether they agree with me or not. Rather, it has everything to do with the logic and reasoning with which they agree or disagree with me. Logic and reasoning, as you may know, are not FQ strengths. Like I said, at least you can discern that opinions should not be the subject of accusations of bias. So that’s a start. Having said that, I’ve only met one person who has impressed me with his reasons for disagreeing with me on China blogs, back in the early days of FM. He was not FQ. Not quite sure where he went. But it’s been downhill from there. Perhaps you can be the second, or perhaps not.

“biased does NOT mean lies, even propaganda does not usually need lies.”
—well, it is encouraging that you can also make this distinction. There may be hope yet. However, it still befuddles me when an FQ can accuse certain media of a biased presentation of the facts, then turn around and quote from that same source when it suits them. It simply reinforces the notion that, even when it comes to presentation of facts, FQ call bias when the presentation doesn’t suit them, but are more than happy to trot it out when it does suit them. Which, again, simply makes any such accusations rather unprincipled.

“your innate belief of I am a FQ prevented you from reading carefully”
—I did read carefully, but you didn’t explain yourself. Which is why I suggested that you mean what you say, and also say what you mean. Besides, I didn’t argue against your statement. I merely noted that your statement was beside the point…because you didn’t say what you mean. But nice try in attempting to turn it around…I have a field day against FQ with that one, which is why I’m cognizant of it enough to avoid doing it myself. Certainly, I’ve slipped up from time to time, but this wasn’t one of those times.

“making choice of being propaganda organ of government (well, at certain times, mostly foreign policy) does not absolve the fact that they do the propaganda.”
—this is true IFF you stipulate that agreeing with the government on foreign policy matters constitutes an act of propaganda. Only if you stipulate to that can you suggest that media are “doing propaganda” when they choose to agree with the government. However, that is a ridiculously high bar…the only way to avoid accusations of bias or of spreading propaganda would be to disagree with government all of the time on foreign policy. I am not sure if that would sit well with the Americans who consume media (since some of them do agree with the government from time to time), and you’ve already agreed that getting American eyeballs is the ultimate media motivation. Note also that we’re restricting our discussion to the dissemination of facts on foreign policy matters, and not opinion, since you’ve already agreed that it is pointless to accuse someone of having biased opinions. So if you are suggesting that merely reporting the facts as provided by the American government (thus implicitly agreeing with those facts) shows that media is biased, well, I don’t know what they could do to be unbiased in your mind.

BTW, I notice you didn’t respond to my elaboration of the FQ mindset when it comes to these media issues.

April 15, 2011 @ 1:15 pm | Comment

The tag FQ (and that of their better-paid cousins, 50-centers) is too often thrown about loosely and pejoratively (like “fascist” or “racist” or “China-basher” or the pug_ster favorite “vassal of America”). But there is a telltale style of circular and defensive “logic”, as SKC notes above, that puts one in the FQosphere.

To date, I would put NotFQ in the FQosphere:
–It is intellectually lazy to lump all “western media” or “US media” together and call it “propaganda” merely when they quote US officials. Not even VOA reports are mere rehashes of State Dept talking points. You might as well say “it’s all words” or “it’s all bullshit”. It would also be intellectually lazy to dismiss all Chinese media as Party propaganda outlets, even though that is closer to the truth than any assertion about the US, and some PRC media outlets are indeed pure party organs. (China’s financial and economic media are reasonably good, as is coverage of social issues and lifestyle trends. Coverage of Google, Tibet, Taiwan, Jasmine, and many of the issues in play on this blog does not stray far from classic propaganda. Chinese media have no choice in this matter.)
–NotFQ needs to give some specific examples of the “propaganda” and “hidden agendas” s/he so wisely discerns in US media. Start with coverage of the mess that is Libya. The reports I’m reading portray what a divisive mess this is and quote Qaddafi rants, disappointed rebels, German opponents, French proponents and ambivalent Americans. (Weirdly, Qaddafi spokesmen we see on the BBC and elsewhere sound a lot like Chinese Foreign Ministry flaks, when addressing sensitive topics in language that insults the intelligence of their audience.)

April 15, 2011 @ 4:00 pm | Comment

@NotFQ
I’m a bit at a loss here. You live in the US – and yet you say there’s government propaganda in the press. You know that the media in the west isn’t a monolith – it’s a variety of publications owned by people who have their own political views which are then reflected by their editorial content. Left wing papers espouse left wing views, right wing right papers right wing views. The Daily Telegraph will not, as far as I can tell, ever share the views of the Socialist Worker (a decent publication, I must admit). French news differ from German news and both differ from the Romanian news…and they all have their own news media reflecting the political position of their editorial masters.
Where does the government propaganda creep in? I can see it in the media affiliated by relationship and agreement of views of the editors and owners…but this fall short of all the media – and the dissenting press is not banned.
I can’t say anything about the US press…but I can’t see it as any different from the press I am familiar with. And Joe Public isn’t stupid either…mostly (some are dense as…as…as a walking pig…expression du jour) – read the comments when they are allowed. Joe Public is actually quite savvy, I find.

April 15, 2011 @ 4:22 pm | Comment

@The point is that it neither obscures nor diminishes the indisputable fact that China has loads of human rights issues of her own.

That is you flawed assumption of what CCP and even some Americans like the Glenn Greenwald and Americans and international journalist from the video or libertarian journalist, Sheldon Richman and Republican politician, Ron Paul has said.

They don’t justified that the evidence of human rights abuses in the US will washes away China’s human rights abuses from the US annual report. But they critique why US is the “judge” on this matter while US abuses their own and continue to speak that they are the champion of human rights and transparency? Why can’t it be Denmark or New Zealand where they can talk to talk and can walk to walk.

@NotFQ

FQ and 50 centers would be apply to Glenn Greenwald and Americans and international journalist from the video or libertarian journalist, Sheldon Richman and Republican politician, and Ron Paul in slim/SKC’s book. Just like the good ol’ days when anti-Vietnam War activists or way back to MLK were called Communists.

April 19, 2011 @ 2:42 pm | Comment

“But they critique why US is the “judge” on this matter while US abuses their own and continue to speak that they are the champion of human rights and transparency?”
—you still miss the point, which is neither surprising, nor your first time. You’re still fixating on whether the US is a worthy “judge” of human rights or not. How does that matter? Let’s say the US is a lousy “judge”. Does that change the fact that CCP CHina has more human rights problems than she knows what to do with? Let’s say the report was issued by (for example) Iceland rather than the US. Does that change anything? Folks like you spend more time worrying about the arbiter than about the substantial criticisms stemming from said arbitration. That says a lot, and very little, about folks like you. You’re so consumed about the messenger that you don’t even have the time nor the capacity to process the message.

Your first two paragraphs were sporting tolerable English. Your third paragraph is heading in a decidedly wrong direction, so you’ll have to try again to make it somewhat comprehensible based on standard English norms.

April 19, 2011 @ 3:01 pm | Comment

A critical mass of Red Songs choir practise is now taking place in Chongqing.

“We must use every means to earnestly organise singing lessons for all cadres and people in order to enrich the masses with spiritual culture.”

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/chinese-city-of-30m-ordered-to-sing-red-songs-20110420-1dohw.html?from=smh_sb#ixzz1K2pNmG00

Plus Peoples Daily.

April 20, 2011 @ 3:09 pm | Comment

To KT:
nice one. Once again, the only thing better than “harmony” is imposed harmony. It’s social engineering, CCP style.

The usual blowhards might again want to compare. And who knows, they may even want to compare to the US (cuz as we all know, that’s never happened before…). And they might even bring up the singing of the national anthem/Star Spangled Banner, or perhaps even schoolkids who are expected to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. But they would once again be forgetting the difference between support for your country and the enforced expectation of support for a political party.

April 20, 2011 @ 4:55 pm | Comment

@S.K.Cheung I thinks it is a little more than generic social engineering.

Cut this from my post on FOARPs site.

Good take on Bo Zilai. The rest of the Politburo either secretly hate his guts or are green with envy. As I said on CMP, Bo Zilai is a modern warlord in an Armani suit who is presently excelling in burearcratic manouvre. Either way, he had better tread carefully on the national stage. Too much charisma generates collegial suspicions.

“I suspect Bo Xilai is trying to break the mould in terms of provincial government leadership with a mix of go go business friendly policies, some proposed populist measures as low cost housing , serious population surveillance management and not forgetting his own his own mafia alliances.”

Can’t find my other stuff on CMP to add, but try this killer read by John Garnaut:

http://www.smh.com.au/business/show-them-the-money-old-china-20110325-1ca3f.html

(Not sure if Mike has already posted this link, but anyway.)

Bo Xilai is thinking ahead and not as a team player either.

April 20, 2011 @ 5:50 pm | Comment

@Hong Xing
I want my Chinese children to grow up working in air-conditioned offices and doing power point slides and earning million dollar salaries while exploiting the slave labor of other nations. I want China to move all of its environment-polluting factories to other countries so my children don’t have to breathe in dirty air.

The irony of HX’s blabbers is that the CCP and its corrupt officials colluded with the power foreign corporate interests to establish sweatshops and polluting industries in the Middle Kingdom. The CCP allows foreign corporations to get away with paying peanuts to Chinese workers and turning a blind eye to heavy emissions by production plants set up by these corporations.

April 20, 2011 @ 8:44 pm | Comment

@Jason
Why can’t it be Denmark or New Zealand where they can talk to talk and can walk to walk.

Get real boy. FQs like you will then point out Denmark’s colonial past and how NZ was formed by depriving the Maoris of their sovereignty if these two countries criticize the CCP.

April 20, 2011 @ 8:57 pm | Comment

@HX
So then what is the motivation. Do you not agree it’s something political. That is, it is using the issue of human rights as a way to gain a political/moral upper hand, a way of posturing, a way of “exerting moral leadership”

Then why don’t China turn the table around, become even more human rights conscious than the US, shame the US and gain a political/moral upper hand, a way of posturing, a way of “exerting moral leadership” against the US?

Be more human rights conscious than US? Over the dead bodies of the rulers in Zhongnanhai.

April 20, 2011 @ 9:07 pm | Comment

Math’s accounts of Ai Wei Wei’s supposed sexual escapades was eerily similar to details of the Private Life of Chairman Mao. LOL.

April 20, 2011 @ 9:23 pm | Comment

@Math
They claim themselves as the vangard of Chinese art, yet have no classical artistic work and achievements other than genital-exposing self portraits.

And the CCP authorities as well as the Beijing Olympics Games Organising Committee recognised Ai’s “genital-exposing self portraits” since he was involved in designing the Beijing National Stadium aka Bird Nest. Math does have a sense of humor of criticising the CCP.
LOL.

April 20, 2011 @ 9:30 pm | Comment

Er, this is actually Other Lisa. Richard borrowed my laptop and for whatever reason, I can’t seem to log out of his account.

Anyway, just popping in to say that though I have not read the entire thread, I more or less agree with NotFQ that many US mainstream media outlets essentially supported (and continues to support) US foreign policy, especially during the run-up to the Iraq War. The NYT was notoriously in bed with the White House—Judith Miller’s WMD stories were a real disgrace. This is not universal. What is interesting is that the news side of the NYT was very much in line with the White House while the editorial side was not. Then over at WaPo, it was just the opposite — much less biased news reporting and some truly reprehensible editorials.

My semi-hometown paper, the Los Angeles Times, by contrast had some excellent stories at the beginning of the conflict that laid out in excruciating detail the erroneous assumptions, stove-piped intelligence and incompetence that characterized the run-up and planning of the war. Also, there was a lot of very good work done on Guantanamo, renditions and torture done by various reporters such as Jane Mayer, Stephen Grey, Seymour Hersh, Dana Priest, etc. etc. etc.

What I’m trying to get at here, is that although many mainstream US media sources toe the “party line” when it comes to foreign policy, there is still a diversity of opinion and very good investigative journalism that is done by American reporters and that appears in American news outlets. It happens every day. American reporters don’t face arrest for reporting and American news outlets don’t face closure by the government for printing/broadcasting.

And though there have been some extremely courageous Chinese journalists who have done the same and who continue to struggle against censorship and out-and-out threat of arrest, there is simply no comparison in the amount of freedom to report that Chinese journalists have versus US journalists.

(once again, this is Lisa, not Richard, and the opinions expressed are purely my own)

April 23, 2011 @ 4:59 pm | Comment

as a p.s., when I cited Jane Mayer, Stephen Grey, etc., it sounds like I’m saying they were all working for the LA Times, which of course is not the case.

April 23, 2011 @ 5:01 pm | Comment

I would also add that many of the British papers were critical of the war, including the Guardian, the Independent, the BBC, the Mirror etc., and that there is a long history of such criticism, going back to the Crimean war.

Nothing demonstrates so much the vacuousness of this idea that the media in the UK is an adjunct of the government than the government’s antagonistic relationship with at least half of the media in the country at any one time. Jeremy Paxman of the BBC is famous for his scathing interviews, adopting such a critical tone in an interview with Tony Blair that my American friends who watched the interview with me were shocked to discover that any journalist could speak to a politician like that, much less the national leader.

The US media has a very unfortunate tradition of deference towards those in power. This is partly because US politicians are much more able to control who they speak to, not having to answer questions from the political opposition as British government ministers. It may also be something to do with the lack of a truly independent broadcaster like the BBC, which need not pander to sponsors etc.

April 23, 2011 @ 6:32 pm | Comment

@Raj
“What do people think we will hear from the authorities as to which “crime” Ai Weiwei committed? Or will we not hear anything specific, just some generic rubbish like “disrupting harmony”?”

I wonder weather the arrest of Ai Weiwei indicates the power struggle/fighting inside chinese central government, no matter what kind of crime he will be accused. This reminds me the 1980s in China. I donot know any of you were in China then, I was a university student back then and was excited about 西单民主墙、朦胧诗歌 and 探索电影 and was confused and upset when they were banned or heatedly criticised. But I believe that the real democracy to benefit a country/community can only be born inside this country/community not be delived from outside. Well, the concept of democracy can be imported or even put into practice, but it cannot function properly if a country/community is not ready, I believe.

I see Ai Weiwei’s incident does not only indicate the power struggle, also it can/may trigger other events. Thinking of the current economical condition and political climate, I do think there will be a big event/change happened soon (?), and reading through chinese history there is always a price to pay for changes, sometimes even very expensive, but move forward for the better of the society, I think.

By the way, I read this interesting article “Martin Jacques On Understanding The Rise Of China.” (I think there is a video of it on internet too) http://www.chinalawblog.com/2011/03/martin_jacques_on_understanding_the_rise_of_china.html

I was hugely impressed by his comparison on the difference between west and china. His view point on “The Chinese view the state as an intimate. Not just as an intimate, actually, but as a member of the family. Not just, in fact, as a member of the family, but as the head of the family: the patriarch of the family. ” is very interesting. I am still not quite sure whether I totally agree with it or I fully understand what he means, but it seems to me that it may be able to understand some comments since Richard’s post on Ai Weiwei.

April 23, 2011 @ 9:34 pm | Comment

Re:Martin Jacques On Understanding The Rise Of China.

1. Ten, twenty or forty year projects aren’t worth the paper or the forum they’re written on.

2.China is a civilisation empire and not a civilisation state.

3. Now, I know it’s a widespread assumption in the West that as countries modernize, they also westernize. REALLY PROFOUND.

4. His argument about the relationship between the State and Society is a cuddly bear load of drivel.

5. He is clueless about what Adam Smith said and in what context he said it.

The rest is broad sweep of history verbiage.

Marxism has produced a lot of brilliant scholars, but Jacques wasn’t one of them. Never quoted, and now that he has repositioned himself, will still be a lite-on Shaun Rein type.

April 24, 2011 @ 3:01 am | Comment

“The Chinese view the state as an intimate. Not just as an intimate, actually, but as a member of the family. Not just, in fact, as a member of the family, but as the head of the family: the patriarch of the family. ”

Any nitwit knows that this is a Mercantilist metaphor, and it fits in nicely with Confucianism also. Say no more about how China acts trade-wise and how the Party views itself vis a vis Society ie very stern Daddy who always knows best.

Yes, the wealthy and filthy wealthy have a very intimate relationship with the State. However, this intimacy involves a considerable degree of infidelity since large numbers are organising rat-line second passports.

April 24, 2011 @ 3:21 am | Comment

More of the same. “Never before in the modern era has the largest economy in the world been that of a developing country”.

And let us look at one significant aspect of this developing modernisation.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/are_chinas_high_speed_trains_heading_off_the_rails/2011/04/22/AFHzaNWE_story.html?wprss=rss_homepage

Note that the critics on how the bank loans for this network stack up are domestic. Factor this in with Victor Shih’s estimation of loan repayments incurred by provincial authorities. 10, 20 or 30 years anyone????

To top it off, good old Admiral Zheng gets a mention.

April 24, 2011 @ 4:50 am | Comment

Re #88
Dee: I believe that the arrests of Ai Weiwei and many others mark a decision. The power struggle is no longer up in the air.

April 24, 2011 @ 12:28 pm | Comment

“Burger’s point is, as well as more or less every other person’s point is, if only China will behave the western way. If only instead of “sabre-rattling and always sounding like a misunderstood and petulant child” and “why not throw the West a bone and let him go, declare an amnesty and then explain why he was detained in the first place.” These statements speak more of the American arrogance than the Chinese arrogance and/or insecurities. I don’t understand how referring to someone as “wailing” and a “petulant child” is not insulting. How that is not the same as calling your self a rational adult who understands the rules and plays by them.”

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/04/voices-from-china-2-the-chewiness-is-what-people-desire/237882/

Yep..when I think “Arrogant American” Richard’s name immediately comes to mind.

Something tells me she’s not spent a lot of time at The Pond…

April 30, 2011 @ 11:30 am | Comment

I just found your site and am loving it. Looking forward to future posts. BTW what is it about China that keeps you there so long?

May 8, 2011 @ 12:40 pm | Comment

That’s an interesting question. Short answer: The people, and how the government often treats them. It was my first in-person experience with an authoritarian regime, and this blog reflects my mixed feeling about them, and my over-riding love of the Chinese people. It started with my blogging about government excesses, and the more I learned about the country and its history the more fascinated I became. If you go back to the early posts in 2002-3 you’ll see how my view of China changed dramatically compared to today.

May 8, 2011 @ 11:48 pm | Comment

@Richard
I have been to Beijing and found it to be a beautiful mix of modern and old. I did not have a great impression of the people there though. It is one of those places you have to forget about where you are from and immerse yourself into their world and appreciate it for what it is. Looking back I know I should have let go of my own judgements and enjoyed the people there. I hope to have a second chance soon.

Will definitely check out your older stuff.

May 12, 2011 @ 4:51 pm | Comment

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