NYT slams China’s deranged new policy on breaking news

And I choose the word “deranged” carefully, as the policy serves no interest other than to protect the prickly old Party from looking bad.

News has always been a tough nut for Communist dictators. It happens unexpectedly, giving bureaucrats precious little time to prepare the correct ideological explanation; it often undermines whatever propaganda line the state is pushing, and if it happens to involve embarrassing events like riots, strikes, accidents or outbreaks of disease, it can make the party bosses look less than perfect.

The Soviet Union dealt with the problem with the infamous Article 70 of the penal code, which basically defined anything the state didn’t want people to hear as “anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda.” Now China proposes to take the art of censorship a step higher with a bill that would severely fine news media outlets if they report on “sudden incidents” without prior authorization.

“Sudden incidents” sounds awfully similar to what most of the world knows better as “breaking news,” and in most countries it’s considered a core function of the news media.

I thought everything changed after SARS, and that the government now permitted, even encouraged, honest, swift reporting about disasters and threats to its citizens. Another big step back in the Age of Hu, and a decision that gives us invaluable insight into the party psyche: they’re still scared, power-drunk and willing to see citizens die to keep them looking good. They fool no one. (Or at least no one who thinks for himself.)

Update: For those of you who haven’t been following this story, here’s an update from the unlinkable SCMP:

A law that would allow the government to impose fines of 50,000 to 100,000 yuan on media outlets that run independent reports on public emergencies has sparked strong resentment among journalists despite officials’ assurances it would apply only if a report caused serious damage.

Outspoken journalism professor Zhan Jiang , from the China Youth University for Political Sciences, said the assurances by an official from the State Council Legal Affairs Office that the media would be encouraged to expose public emergencies covered up by local governments had failed to convince the media that the law was not aimed at restricting press freedom.

“The interpretation is not convincing. If that is really the case, they should have revised the draft of the law and inserted clauses that protect the rights of journalists,” he said. “There is not a single provision in the law to protect the rights of journalists, and they are talking about restricting the rights of journalists.”

Professor Zhan said another provision in the draft, which stipulates that information about public emergencies should be provided by the government, had also caused concern. Public emergencies include accidents, public health crises, social unrest and natural disasters.

No matter how the government tried to contain negative publicity after the content of the provision was released, the law was a clear case of intimidation of the media, Professor Zhan said.

Hu wants China to be a huge capitalist middle-class country, with no freedom of speech.

The Discussion: 34 Comments

There’s an easy loophole to get out of this. Just blame any embarassing breaking news on American hegemony.

And then talk about it with Philip Cunningham on “Dialogue.”

Yang Rui: “Many Americans blamed the Chinese government for the deaths of 5 million Americans in the Great Bird Flu epidemic in 2007.”

Cunningham: “Well let’s look at the war in Iraq….”

July 4, 2006 @ 1:41 am | Comment

The Chinese government is such a reliable source of news in times of emergency.

“Mothing wrong with the river, we’re just closing down the entire city’s water system for five days of … maintenance.”

July 4, 2006 @ 6:58 am | Comment

The silver lining in all of this is that this proposed law is increasing Chinese of the need for greater press freedom. If this law ends up not being enacted (and I think that is a real possibility) its proposal and subsequent failure will end up being a good thing for freedom of the press in China.

July 4, 2006 @ 7:52 am | Comment

China’s policy – good ones and better – is not for foreign devils’ review. China rises!

July 4, 2006 @ 7:56 am | Comment

Oh, oh, somebody’s in desperate need of some downers here.

July 4, 2006 @ 10:22 am | Comment

Don’t feed the troll.

July 4, 2006 @ 10:26 am | Comment

I won’t feed the troll, but I WILL say, that Tibetan Buddhism came from India, not China.

Tibetan Buddhism is one of the last living remnants of the original kind of Buddhism, which came from India. Tibetan Buddhism is THE MOST “Indian” kind of Buddhism of all.

July 4, 2006 @ 11:53 am | Comment

PS, just to make it all the more clear: Buddhism started in India, not in China. The first Buddha, (lived circa 500 BC) was Indian.

Buddhism did not even scratch the surface of China until approximately 2,000 years ago, when Indian Buddhist monks went to China, around 500 years after the First Buddha lived in India.

More simply: Buddhism started in India. So, if Buddhism belongs to any nationality, it’s India.

July 4, 2006 @ 11:57 am | Comment

Imagine a large earthquake in the S. China Sea,
and an even bigger tsunami bearing down on Guangzhou and Hong Kong. A Sudden Event.

Alas, no warning is allowed in the media, so millions perish.

Thanks, Hu!

July 4, 2006 @ 12:03 pm | Comment

Oh! I “do not know the basic!”

Buddhism REALLY came from CHINA!

Thank you, THANK YOU, Jessica, for telling me!

Now I know “the basic!”

And now I can dance around like a savage, waving my Little Red Book around, and I can shout:

“DA DAO! Down with all revisionists! Buddhism started in China! DA DAO! DA DAO!” And I can run around like a fucking savage and beat the shit out of anyone who does not agree with me.

THAT is the way of MAO! Yes, YES! Now I see.
And that is the true way of Buddhism! The TRUE essence of Buddhism, is to run around like savages and say, “MAO! MAO! MAO IS LIKE THE SUN!”

Thank you, thank you for explaining Buddhism to me. Buddhism is Chinese. All good things are Chinese. Why? Because China is CHINA! And ALL good things are Chinese, and all bad things are foreign. Therefore, Buddhism is Chinese.
And Mao was a Buddha. And Tibet has always been part of China. Why? Because, China is CHINA! And that is always good. And that is the essence of Buddhism.

July 4, 2006 @ 1:04 pm | Comment

If Tibetan Buddhism really preaches Chinese unity and harmony, then why don’t the CCP leave the Tibetan monasteries alone to continue promoting their “Chinese” religion? Why spend so much money employing secret police in Tibet, when there are so many other dangerous individuals threatening to bring down the great Chinese nation, such as reporters who report bad news without permission, bloggers who post subversive poetry on the Internet, F*L*G members who meditate in public and so on.

July 4, 2006 @ 4:17 pm | Comment

Boy, Jessica is off its meds again.

July 4, 2006 @ 4:25 pm | Comment

By the way, this particular troll, who pretends to be in China, telling westerners to “go home,” actually resides in New York state, where it is attending university.

So, um, get out of New York State, everyone!

July 4, 2006 @ 4:38 pm | Comment

Not commenting on the post in particular, but just for the sake of information, Tibetan Buddhism belongs to the Mahayana branch of Buddhism. The Buddhism preached by the Buddha adheres to the three baskets canon, which is preserved throughout Southeast Asia, but is near extinct in India. This is the Theravada/Hinayana version of Buddhism.

Several generations after the death of the Buddha, Mahayana Buddhism originated in Northern India. Without getting into theological details — Mahayana Buddhism spread to East Asia, e.g. China. While it also spread to Tibet early on, it died out there, Tibet reverting to the Bon religion.

Later, the marriage of Wencheng princess to the Tibetan ruler caused a second conversion of Tibet. Therefore it’s arguable that Tibetan Buddhism is very much related to Chinese Buddhism. Later Tibetan rulers, for various political reasons, sometimes aligned themselves with Indian Buddhism, and at other times aligned themselves with Chinese Buddhism. In any case, Buddhism in India died out after the Moghul Invasion. Hence the Chinese language has preserved more Buddhist texts than any other language. Also, more Buddhists exist in China than any other country.

Another tie between Tibetan Buddhism and China is that the Manchurian emperors were major patrons of Tibetan Buddhism. Tibetan monks were commonplace in major cities in most non-Han dynasties. As a result, Tibetan Buddhism also has a long history in China proper. I personally have read many books by Han Chinese living in inland China who adhere to Tibetan Buddhism. Of course, Tibetan Buddhists remain a small minority amongst Han Chinese Buddhists.

Another example concerns the scriptures. Most of the original Indian Mahayanist scriptures have been lost. Therefore it is necessary to seek them in Chinese or Tibetan. In general, Tibetan copies translate word by word, whereas Chinese copies translate according to meaning. Therefore, by comparing Tibetan and Chinese copies, we derive again the original Sanskrit version.

In conclusion, concerning the claim that Buddhism belongs to India — it is true historically, but really Buddhism is invisible right now in the current Indian cultural tradition (with exception of the Dalits who opt for Buddhism so to reject the caste system of Hinduism). While Mahayana Buddhism did not originate in China, China is the primary Mahayanist country. As well, Tibetan Buddhism and Chinese Buddhism are much closer related than most people think.

Of course, this topic really has nothing to do with the post. I don’t know how it got into the comment section, but in any case, I’m just clearing things up.

July 4, 2006 @ 4:49 pm | Comment

I wonder why nobody brings up the reports that the media ban clause was inserted into the proposed emergency situations law at the last minute by certain interests. A far more interesting story than the black and white way it is portrayed around the blogosphere at the moment.

July 4, 2006 @ 5:20 pm | Comment

Zoomzan said:

“China is the primary Mahayanist country.”

NOT ANYMORE! China is a Communist country. Communists are the sworn enemies of all religions. And at any rate, Buddhism originated in India, and Buddhism today is MORE FREE IN INDIA THAN IN the BLOODY COMMUNIST PRC!

And when you FUCKING LYING COMMUNIST WHORES go on and on about religion in China, about all the religions which YOU ARE SWORN TO DESTROY, you make me want to tear my hair out. Here I go: ARRGGH! (RIP!) ARGGH! (RIP!)…

…(pardon me, folks, I have a lot of hair, so this will take a while….)

July 4, 2006 @ 5:40 pm | Comment

There is no reasoning with unreason. In response to my assertion that China is primarily Mahayanist, Ivan wrote:

“NOT ANYMORE! China is a Communist country. Communists are the sworn enemies of all religions.”

From my post, it should clear that I’m using Mahayanist not as in political affiliation, but rather as in historico-cultural ties, in same way that one would say Cambodia is Theravada, even though during the Khmer Rouge reign many monks were killed.

Now, Ivan, if you reviewed my previous post, you would realise that I have mentioned nothing which relate directly to the last two centuries. I only sought to inform you on bits and pieces of Buddhist history. Now perhaps you are bent on remaining ill-informed — in which case please excuse my misplaced well-intentions.

July 4, 2006 @ 7:15 pm | Comment

So presumably you’re going for the body hair first?

Can you furher narrow down the IP address to which university in NY this jessica nutbag attends?

Cornell perhaps. All that isolation makes one go nuts…Lord of the Flies, etc.

July 4, 2006 @ 7:25 pm | Comment

RE: Jessica Copeland., TPD’s newest troll

For some reason, I dislike it when commentators adopt as pseudonyms real names of other nationalities. It’s like they’re trying to validate their own views by pretending to be someone they’re not. I have a hunch that Jessica’s real family name is only one syllable and that she was not born in the United States. Not even a high school dropout reading at a 4th grade level would write this:

You have no value. You do not know the basic.

July 4, 2006 @ 9:48 pm | Comment

Jessica is already well known over at the Free Hao Wu site, where she/it/he takes delight in mocking a family grieving over the arrest of their brother/son. If I had seen her/its comments earlier I’d have deleted them, as “Jessica” is a symptom of all that is sick and repellent with a certain variety of angry Chinese haters (luckily there are very few such people over here, and they do not represent in any way the people of China, though they believe they do). I’ll leave the comments already placed, but will not hesitate to delete others as they come in.

July 4, 2006 @ 9:54 pm | Comment

Richard, I was gonna ban it but thought I should leave it up to you. I am so angry at “Jessica.” It can spew its hatred and irrational attempts at discourse and whatever. But when it starts spamming freehaowu, a site dedicated to a very real person who is a really good guy…

Well, Jessica can just go f*ck itself. I’d really like to meet Jessica face to face and kick its pathetic ass. And don’t think I wouldn’t. This person doesn’t deserve any consideration or any response. It should just go crawl back under whatever rock it came from. Hi, Jessica! You are pathetic. I hope you rot in whatever hell you believe in.

July 4, 2006 @ 11:29 pm | Comment

I going to preface this by saying I by no means endorse Ms. “Copeland”‘s (å?£çˆ¬æ»¥, maybe?) assertions about Christians, the UK, Westerners in general or any hate she’s been spewing at freehaowu.org, but I wanna back up Zoomzan a bit on this one. This map for instance:


In terms of Mahayana Buddhism, which is believed to have begun being taught in Pakistan but the oldest scriptures for it are in Chinese. By the time it reached China, in other words, it had become a full fledged system.

Three things: it is not at all clear whether Mahayana was developed before, during or after it traveled to China. The answer, since all that travel was overland, is probably “all of the above”. Second, that travel doesn’t appear to have been through Tibet, but around it, through Central Asia. It might have something to do with mountains…

And finally, Tibetan Buddhism is a bit of a smorgasbord. Mahayana is a major component, especially for the current Dalai Lama, because of his emphasis (and that particular schools emphasis) on compassion and specific ways of thinking about being compassionate. But Mahayana is not all of Tibetan Buddhism, and Tibet being surrounded by all those other Buddhist places, it makes sense that you can’t really say their Buddhism just comes from one place or the other.

I have to go now, I’m having an irony overload talking about compassion in response to comments like “I think you are typical Christian Western bigots who are brainwashed and outrageously ignorant” and “FUCKING LYING COMMUNIST WHORES”. Brain… can’t… contain… irony… must… drink heavily. Ivan, you’re welcome to pull up a little red plastic stool.

July 5, 2006 @ 1:20 am | Comment

Lisa, I’m with you 1,000 percent. I guess it thinks it’s a big game, mocking people who live in terror that their loved one has disappeared in the hands of the secret police.

Next time, feel free to delete – “Jessica” is absolutely not welcome here.

July 5, 2006 @ 3:26 am | Comment

Lisa, I’m with you 1,000 percent. I guess it thinks it’s a big game, mocking people who live in terror that their loved one has disappeared in the hands of the secret police.

Next time, feel free to delete – “Jessica” is absolutely not welcome here.

July 5, 2006 @ 3:30 am | Comment

Richard, I will delete with extreme prejudice.

And I did check its IP address – still at that New York university, which makes its bleatings all the more pathetic.

July 5, 2006 @ 9:52 am | Comment

Richard, how long are you going to put up with this shit?

July 5, 2006 @ 5:35 pm | Comment

It’s getting deleted nbow. I’ve been away.

July 5, 2006 @ 5:45 pm | Comment

Our troll of the week sounded a lot like a Korean university freshman who’s undergone six months of political indoctrination by upperclassmen. However disturbed the troll is, its mentors are even more twisted.

July 5, 2006 @ 6:24 pm | Comment

Actually, the more I think about it, our troll sounds like a trained propagandist. On one thread, it made reference to the Branch Davidians at Waco. Waco happened 14 years ago. The troll sounds youngish, definitely wasn’t born in the US, and was probably a primary school pupil in China at the time. I’ll bet few US undergrads would be able to answer the questions, “Who were the Branch Davidians and what happened at Waco?” Someone has coached our troll on how to respond to criticisms of things like religious freedom and FLG.

July 5, 2006 @ 8:31 pm | Comment

I’m glad that the troll’s been banned. But unfortunately she’s got what she wanted: hijacking the thread.

The China Law Blog made a very interesting comment before the troll jumped in. I’m quoting it again for your reference:

“The silver lining in all of this is that this proposed law is increasing Chinese of the need for greater press freedom. If this law ends up not being enacted (and I think that is a real possibility) its proposal and subsequent failure will end up being a good thing for freedom of the press in China.”

The report from SCMP also indicated a high of level dissatisfaction among Chinese journalists and intellectual over the new policy proposal. I search the China Law Blog but couldn’t find any more information of discussions within China about this new legislation. Have I missed something? So I’m wondering whether the China Law Blog could further elaborate his comments or point me to the right direction for relevant discussions.

I’m not in China. Reading news and blog discussions are my only avenues of getting more information on this topic. Many thanks.

July 5, 2006 @ 8:57 pm | Comment

Dylan’s comment is good and not something I would have picked up on. I guess western reporters didn’t either.

I like how they act as if the proposal is to protect us from “disseminating groundless news or rumors, or reporting false information”. But when it comes down to how they will actually prosecute, the sole determining factor seems to be ‘that fines would only be imposed if reports caused “grave consequences to society”.’

I guess truth–or even truthiness–does not factor in. (this law would really jive in well with Bush and the recent NYT brouhaha.)

July 6, 2006 @ 1:35 am | Comment

quotes above from the Shenzhen Daily

July 6, 2006 @ 1:37 am | Comment

My name is Jessica. Ghod has abandoned me, and I am so sad! I pretend to live in China, where I can yell at foreigners to go home! But I don’t live in China! I live in New York! I go to college there! I spend all day in front of a computer, writing nasty things on blogs. Why? Because I don’t have a life!

July 6, 2006 @ 12:53 pm | Comment

My name is Jessica too! You can call me Jessica Two! And when the CCP say you “can” do something, you’d better do it!

You America! You always hegemony! America always hegemony on the human right! Why you think you can hegemony on the Human Right! You think you super! You think you White Christian are all hegemony!

You no hegemony! China is rising power, you be sorry now! Oh shit! I don’t get money from
parent these month! How I can live in New York
without money! My parent Communist Party Secretary, how they can send no money after construction project for economic development?
And how farmer can complain? And how my parent arrested now? How can be corrupt?
How China journalist expose my parent corruption? How I can no money now?

You America! You always hegemony on the Human Right! How I can have no money now?
How China journalist send my parent to prison for stealing from farmer? You America! You America think you superior!

I go to Starbucks now and waste the last 20 dollars I have. Then I become prostitute cause no more money from parent. Damn America!

July 6, 2006 @ 7:54 pm | Comment

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