The war through Chinese eyes

It’s kind of surreal, watching the Chinese news station and then visiting the news sites on the Internet as they cover the war on Iraq. There has not been a single piece on CCTV, not one, that hasn’t begun with language similar to, “The US-led war on Iraq, which is certain to create a humanitarian tragedy….” or “As protesters around the world demonstrate against the US-led attack….” Everything is sharply, embarrassingly slanted against the USA. I watched news coverage this morning as they went from story to story on Iraq, each one replete with quotes from ant-US loudmouths. They interviewed peace protesters in New York and San Francisco, Chinese governmental officials pleading that it is “not too late to stop fighting and seek a political solution,” economists prophesying the havoc this war will wreak on the world economy, one after another after another, not a single voice, not one, telling the other side of the story.

Of course, I have no right to be surprised. This is, after all, a government-controlled media. I guess I’m not surprised, but more insulted. After all, this blatantly mangled and falsified news is an affront to the intelligence of anyone with half a brain. This is the channel that is watched mainly by expats here. Does the government think we are all retarded? Can it possibly be fooling anyone but itself?

I really wish I could convey in words what I am seeing on the television today. The phony “debates” where everyone agrees and there is no argument; the hammering away at tired phrases (“the inspections were making progress”); the assumptions of mass killings of “innocent civilians”; the evil of “defying international laws” and “ignoring the rights of a sovereign nation.” Never once, in this conversation that is so concerned with “humanitarian” issues, never once have I heard mention of the inhumanities of Saddam’s regime or the plight of most Iraqi citizens under one of the world’s most oppressive totalitarian dictatorships. Nothing about the games Saddam has played cynically for 12 years to block weapons inspections. Nothing about Saddam’s bloodthirsty history.

I’ve always laughed at the rosy picture the media here always paint when it comes to China’s economy, and my colleagues assure me no one takes them seriously. Today it’s different. It’s one thing to exaggerate, but what I’m seeing today is something worse, something much uglier. It’s depressing.

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