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July 13, 2009



Lots of good info and insights here, especially regarding the discussion of China's ethnic policies.

Being a Chinese American who do visit relatives regularly in China, I still do believe that the Western media is extremely biased against the Chinese government in terms of headlines, who to cover, and is rarely ever apologetic when caught with mistakes.

Rather than dismissing the Chinese bloggers as simply "nationalists", perhaps the Western media should just admit its faults especially when caught with mistakes. Afterall, we all complain about Chinese government's usual tactics of burying the truth and ignoring criticisms. For the Western media to criticize the Chinese government when it does the same to its critics is a bit hypocritical.

For all of its worth, I noticed that after the creation of the anti-CNN site, CNN and the US media has been ALOT more careful in filtering out the none-facts when it comes to reporting on China. The restoration of Western media's credibility within China is an important step if the Western media actually wishes to change China for the better.


I think you are vastly underestimating the ability of the Chinese government to change policy. If there is a social consensus within the party and outside that something needs to be done, then the policy will change.

However, the main thing may keep the status quo is that people are divided as to what the new policy should be. Broadly speaking some people think the policy is too soft and some people think it is too hard. If this situation remains, then you are likely to see the current policies remain, even though no one likes them, because it's the closest thing to a compromise between two opposing views.

Change, but change what?

One other thing. Information management was part of the strategy, but there has been some information to manage. One thing that is coming out of the Western news reports is that for the most part the police seem to be behaving well. While there are accusations of police bias, if the police were randomly shooting people then none of the information management techniques would work. So to suggest that the Chinese government is relying *only* on information management is quite flawed.

It also brings up some issues that legitimate people can disagree on. For example, does the state have a legitimate right to censor rumors and information that would incite more rioting?


Also I don't think that the Western press is less biased.

The Uighurs simply do not have the sort of media skills and leadership that the Tibetans have. Also, portraying the Uighurs as innocent victims of foreign oppression opens up the issue of Uighur detainees in Guantanamo and the US designation of the ETIM as a terrorist group. These are big messy complex issues that most media groups in the US don't want to touch.

Also, the situation in Urumiqi looks a lot like the situation in Los Angeles after Rodney King. And talking about solutions like "affirmative action for Uighurs" gets you into the problem that a lot of the people in the United States oppose affirmative action. Criticizing Chinese restrictions on mosques, and pretty soon you wonder about US restrictions on Islamic charity groups.

So what happens is that the frame story of oppressed minority just doesn't work in this situation, and there is far, far more acceptance of the Chinese government's view of things because Chinese biases in this situation much more closely resemble American biases.

The other thing is that I don't think that most Americans are inclined to react with outrage. To most Americans, this looks like "just another intractable ethnic conflict" and there is nothing that grabs peoples addition here more than any other ethnic conflict in the world.


West’s hatred for the Chinese people - not just its government – is clearly projected through its “just” and “unbiased” news medium.

In demonizing an ancient people with a proud and glorious civilization, the West projects its own intimately-known evils of racism, colonialism, hypocrisy, barbarism, and cruelty onto the historically-feared Chinese.

Two birds with one stone: the West gets relief from its own guilt -- after all, it has got a lot of blood on it hands in the last 500 years--and indulges in murderous envy of a people who are returning to her rightful place in the world.


Rebiya Kadeer's photo incident is worth emphasizing not because it exposes her as a liar -- as you've argued, this kind of mistake is too obvious too be intentional -- but because it reveals the WUC's casual relationship to evidence -- one that, not coincidentally, is shared by Free Tibet organizations and most other self-proclaimed human rights groups: Any rumor goes, nothing needs verification.

The reason they can maintain this attitude is because the Western media not only eagerly, but blindly eats up everything fed to them by those organizations. Their excuse being, since NGOs don't have the organizational capacity of information gathering as government do, they're free to claim whatever they want based on whatever they (claim to) have. That's why the WUC's latest claim of "over a thousand Uyghurs deaths" based on "reports on the ground" continues to be quoted by every West media outlet.

I remember the conversation during a MFA press conference last year between spokesman Qin Gang and a correspondent of the German dpa. The latter was defending a report of his agency about the situation in Tibet that had turned out to be false, by saying they were forced to rely on exile Tibetan sources because they couldn't get more information from the Chinese authorities. Qin called it "gangster logic", comparing if to a man defending theft and robbery by saying he's hungry but has no money to buy food.

I thought it was a pity that that conversation didn't draw any attention in the China expat blogosphere, because it's a shockingly accurate characterization of the standard (or the lack thereof) of many, if not most Western media outlets' reporting on China -- or any other country outside the NATO and its allies.


Most Western media show knee-jerk sympathies for any organization/people that oppose the Chinese government, even when such people do horrible things, like the Uighur rioters. Reading through the major Western papers on this incident, it is obvious that most of them show no sympathies to the Han Chinese killed. They paint the picture of the rioting as another instance of ruthless government crackdown on a people that are "oppressed". There is no mention of China's preferential minority policies, which are among the best in the world. This is a persistent manufactured theme in Western media. It shows everywhere. The bias is clearly there. It is pathological.

I feel so sorry for the innocent Han Chinese who were killed in this riot. They were given almost no sympathies in Western media as if they deserved to be killed in such a cruel way. This is saddening.

On the other hand, I cannot say that I sympathize with the Chinese government, not after they started to block anti-cnn and other online discussions. They may have shown openness to international reporters this time. But they still tightly control domestic discussions on this incident as if its people are stupid and need to be told what to do and what not to do.

So let me say this categorically: down with Western media and down with the geriatric CCP Propaganda officials who are out of touch with the world.


One other thing, I don't think the Chinese government shutting down the internet and cell phones was intended mainly to control the press.

What was happening was that people were using social networks posting extremely inflamatory and untrue rumors about massacres and atrocities that simply were not happening. Also, using social networks allow people to organize more easily and had those networks remained in place, it's pretty clear to me that the mobs would have used them to coordinate beatings and killings and to try to overwhelm the police effort to control the situation and protect the innocent.

Even considering that this power can be abused, I think that the Chinese government were perfectly justified in shutting everything down. Since shutting everything down didn't hugely adversely impact the ability for journalists to report what they saw. The natural tendency is to think of the police as the bad guys and the demonstrators as the good guys, but here is a situation where it seemed to me that this really wasn't the case.

Also talking about the Chinese governments "information strategy" makes it seem like things are more coordinated they they really are. Chinese bloggers think for themselves, and the government has to manage them rather than control them. In addition, a lot of the tactics that overseas bloggers have used against the "mainstream media" were invented by groups within the United States (conservative groups like Fairness and Accuracy in Media) against what they see as "liberal bias."

Also Western media has one huge weakness when it comes to accusations of bias. I've never heard anyone get upset that the People's Daily or Xinhua is biased. Everyone *knows* that they are biased in favor of the Chinese government, because they very loudly and very clearly state that they are biased in favor of the Chinese government.

The problem with the New York Times and the Washington Post is that they *claim* impartiality and neutrality, which makes targets for groups (both conservatives and Chinese nationalists) that don't think that is true.


The media will inevitably make mistakes, and this is understandable. What's revealing is that these mistakes always manage to make China look worse. It's as if they're thinking, "When in doubt, always err on the anti-China side."

WGJ has a good point

Why did Kadeer and her organization claim (after the photo mistake had been pointed out) that someone--perhaps an agent working for the Chinese government---gave them the wrong photo just before she stepped into the interview room, and that they could not find the person who had deliberately misled her after the incident all across the US? Maybe Kadeer was sincere, but this ex-post explanation is not.


Rebecca, very good analysis as always. I just have one small question: Rebiya Kadeer grew up in Urumqi; shouldn't she be able to tell apart Urumqi from another city (e.g., Shishou) in such a large photo?

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