Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A Second Cultural Revolution?

NSWN blogger asks whether the anti-CNN movement in the China blogosphere might have sparked a second cultural revolution. It seems China.com* is leading an effort to purge the Southern Metropolis Daily of its deputy chief editor Chang Ping for having dared to point out some unfortunate consequences of the Chinese netizens' campaign against foreign media. NSWN writes, ". . . I cannot comprehend China.com's game of catching Chinese traitors inside China. Even if their ridiculous goal is attained -- the closing of Southern Metropolis Daily -- what are the Chinese people getting as result?"

I think the question is: what is the Party getting out of this? Although I agree with the larger point he is making here, I take issue with the assertion by NSWN and others that the Western media bears responsibly for the recent rise in Chinese nationalist sentiment. ( NSWN wrote: "Exactly as I was worried about, the unprofessional conduct by CNN and other western media on the March 14 incident has triggered off an outburst of fervent nationalism in China.")

The campaign on the part of some enraged Chinese netizens needs to be viewed within the context of the overall -- and longstanding -- propaganda program of China's government which has lately launched fervent attacks against the peaceful spiritual leader of Tibet's ethnic minority.

Moreover, the anti-CNN hullabaloo and the overall campaign against the Western media have lacked the most rudimentary critical rigor. As The Wall Street Journal aptly put it: "The precise basis for the complaints isn't clear, although critics have circulated a few photographs published on news Web sites that they argue were misleadingly cropped or captioned. "

We cannot know that the bombastic nationalism of Beijing's news media and the netizens' campaign are truly independent (as many commentators presume and China's netizens claim). What cannot be denied is that what appears to have begun as an earnest bloggers' campaign has morphed into something truly ugly. Chinese websites have spawned "harassment, including violent threats, against foreign reporters who took part in a recent trip to Lhasa" reported the WSJ Monday. Curiously -- and perhaps tellingly -- over the weekend the government of China made no move to censor those posting death threats against Western journalists, despite the requests of foreign press organizations.

I suspect the Chinese Communist Party -- whether it initiated it or not -- is content to milk the netizens' campaigns against the Western media for all they are worth in these run-up months to an Olympics that will see thousands of foreign reporters swarm China. The government may want to discredit its foreign visitors in advance, lest their reports shake the Chinese peoples' confidence in the Party.

Please see my follow-up to this post, Has Western news media biased sparked Chinese nationalism.
NSWN has a shocking photos concerning a recent "forced eviction campaign."
* China.com is listed on NASDAQ notes NSWN blogger.


  1. AnonymousMay 05, 2008

    Jotman, you make good points sometimes, but this, is totally a waste of my time.
    speculation + ignorance to the result to the 'western reports'

  2. You apparently know nothing about China. You may never heard of May 4th movement.


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