Jun 30

The Weng’An Riots: “How hard is it to give the masses the real picture?”

Written by Buxi on Monday, June 30th, 2008 at 11:37 pm
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In the aftermath of the Weng’An (Wengan) riots, most newspapers are running with Xinhua’s short three paragraph report on the issue. I believe in keeping with recent trends, we will hear a much more detailed analysis and explanation from Xinhua shortly. In the mean time, there have been several online editorials from various newspapers, in some cases perhaps bending official rules on independent reporting by highlighting netizen comments rather than their own story. Many of these editorials are focusing their attacks on the local government, while insisting that the central government desires something else. I hope their interpretation proves to be the case. I translate two editorials below.

First, an article from the online site of the Jiangsu Communist Party newspaper Xinhua Daily, which is not directly related to the national Xinhua: (“How hard is it to give the masses the real picture?”, 原文)

… Article begins with a repeat of the first paragraph of the Xinhua story on the incident …

The incident’s cause is simple; it’s all because of dissatisfaction with the county public security office’s determination on “cause of death” for a female student. Emotionally, it’s very difficult for people not to place their sympathies with the weaker party. The majority of people are logical and rational, and that’s a point that no one, not even the national leadership or officials of every level would try to argue. So, unless it’s reached the point of extreme desperation, no one would risk everything to surround and attack the government. And from a logical point of view, it’s not difficult to determine that the people might have had good reason to rush into action.

This should have been a simple case. It shouldn’t have been difficult for the local law enforcement authorities to give the masses a satisfactory answer, to give the masses the truth. But very clearly, both the local authorities and related media appear to be dodging the nature of the question itself. In both the explanations of the local authorities and the media’s reporting, it only roughly described the actions of the masses surrounding and attacking government offices. But the actual fuse that led to this incident, the details on the actual case involving the death hasn’t been explained or described. The short description that “some people are dissatisfied with the determination of ’cause of death'” isn’t enough of a conclusion. This is no different than wrapping gunpowder with paper (ed: similar to the English idiom walking on land-mines), and will lead to guesses and assumptions, and the people’s dissatisfaction is completely understandable.

Based on online searches, the media controlled by the local government hasn’t given any sort of reporting on this story. But in contrast, on Baidu and other internet forums, there are detailed descriptions and analysis of all the events erlated to the incident. Although the credibility of the messages on these forums can be debated, but they all largely agree that the girl might have been raped, and that the evil-doers avoided the appropriate punishment because of links to the county government. Although the sources of this information isn’t completely reliable, but because it’s the only information available, the direction this information is leading the masses can be easily imagined. English politician Charles James Fox has a famous saying: “When people are persecuted into exchanging thoughts secretly, only then can speech bring danger to the nation.” (Ed: Anyone know the actual quote? Mine is a translation.) In reality, regardless of whether the female victim’s case involves a conspiracy or improper legal enforcement, local security and government offices should all immediately publish the truth, and let the masses learn the truth. The only result of sealing off news will be pushing the masses into the dead-end of listening to “rumors”. If the masses aren’t clear on the truth, then a momentary angry reaction is difficult to avoid.

Numerous recent similar events have been able to raise a huge reaction, stimulate so many different voices, all because local governments have been unable to reveal the real picture to the masses. Instead, in this combination of truth and evasion, all types of speculation and doubts will not cease. As long as this type of information is restricted, the necessary result of not understanding the truth will be the masses not believing in, and holding hostility for the government. This sort of confrontation between the masses and government offices is of course not something we enjoy seeing. And to the government itself, this is not a good thing.

In reality, giving the people the real picture isn’t difficult. Comrade Hu Jintao in his report to the 17th Congress clearly said: “development socialist ideology and democratic government is the unswerving goal our goal is struggling for”. But socialist ideology – democratic government’s basic characteristics should be open fairness. It’s important for government at all levels to hold firmly to the principle of open fairness, and allow both administration and law enforcement to become increasingly transparent. Letting the masses understand the real picture during actual work isn’t just the basic request of the spirit of the 17th Congress, but also the best method of resolving problems. And only this way, can we avoid a repeat incidents similar to this.

Second, an “online comment” published on Caijing (“Will the central government please fully investigate the hitting/smashing/burning incident”, 原文).

The official media recently issued a report titled “Guizhou Province Weng’An (Wengan) Prefecture Had A Hitting/Smashing/Burning Incident”, and logically speaking shouldn’t be a big deal. I’ve never even heard of this place Weng’An.

But unexpectedly, this common piece of news is followed with so many follow-on posts, with a tone very different from the official media version. During the follow-on replies, we can see that popular opinion is that of extremely outrage. Will this become another “South China Tiger Incident”? Is the local government using its control over the media to control the situation? I don’t know, but I ask that the central government completely investigate this issue.

Reading the official report carefully, there are many suspicious points: “Some people instigated the masses ignorant of the truth into attacking the public security and government buildings. Subsequently, a small number of criminals took advantage of the opportunity to smash the office, and also burnt numerous offices and some vehicles.”

I’d like to ask: who are these “some people”? In China, the vast majority of citizens are “obedient people”, how can “some people” instigate them? Is it that this group of “some people” really that skilled, or is that the government has done something inproper?

A “Hitting/Smashing/Burning Incident”, the use of this keyword deserves some deep consideration. Are the people of Guizhou really such trouble-makers (刁民)? Is it possible that the local government is using our country’s propaganda policies, knowing that if they escalate this issue to a “Hitting/Smashing/Burning Incident”, then the propaganda ministry is allowed to interfere and seal off all discussion of this issue?

Since ancient times, the majority of these cases involve officials forcing the people into action. So-called trouble-makers, that’s only the government’s version.

Luckily, Weng’an (Wengan) county is a low-ranking government office. Even if the problem involved Guizhou province as a whole, the central government can also handle it.

Central government, please thoroughly investigate this incident, so that we can welcome the Olympics as a completely peaceful China!

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82 Responses to “The Weng’An Riots: “How hard is it to give the masses the real picture?””

  1. MutantJedi Says:

    Charles James Fox

    “Opinions become dangerous to a state
    only when persecution makes it necessary
    for the people to communicate their ideas
    under the bond of secrecy.”

  2. DJ Says:

    Ha! Buxi, I just translated a portion of the very same Caijing article for your previous post.

    Now, EugeneZ, you can see a clear difference in translation styles between Buxi and I, can’t you? And this just provides a further proof that he and I are not the same person. 😉

  3. jen Says:

    Xinhua has a new report in English (http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-06/30/content_8466981.htm) but not in Chinese.

  4. jen Says:

    i take that back…the chinese report is just buried: http://www.xinhuanet.com/chinanews/2008-07/01/content_13689272.htm

  5. JD Says:

    Wow Buxi. You have an oddly misplaced confidence in Xinhua. Here’s a good report on what Xinhua really is and how it works:


  6. Luoluo Says:

    It’s a good post. I hope there will be some follow-up reports.

  7. DJ Says:


    I don’t think those two links you provided are the same article in English and in Chinese. The English one was written by writers working for Xinhua, and contains a fairly reasonable report of the incident with quotes from various parties. The Chinese article, however, comes from local Guizhou news report (金黔在线-贵州日报), and is, frustratingly, of the typical style of official non-sense and white wash everyone hated so much. That article basically reported that the party boss of Guizhou held meetings with local officials to discuss the incident, already casting it as mostly caused by misguided people incited by a few and laid only light blame on officials who “didn’t do a good enough job” locally.

    The contrast between the responses at the local and central levels are stunning. What’s particularly ironic (or maddening) is that Mao himself had famously declared: “one has no right to make pronouncement without proper investigation first.” 伟大领袖毛主席教导我们:“没有调查,就没有发言权” (《反对本本主义》1930年5月) Can’t those (regional level) officials understand that rendering official judgment on such incident before the completion of an open and fair investigation brings disrepute just as bad or even worse than the allaged criminal acts of the local officials in such incident?

  8. MutantJedi Says:

    An early report on Xinhua in English was pretty sparse

  9. werew Says:

    here is a personal account

  10. Buxi Says:


    Thanks for that link. Just a quick explanation for others, it’s the personal account of Zhou Shugang (aka Zola), a journalist/blogger who made history by investigating the story of the “nail-house” in Chongqing. He’s since been involving himself in other similar cases. You can read about him by Googling his name online.

    The story doesn’t have too many new details, yet. Zola made it to Weng’an without too much difficulty. He saw the girl’s body still covered by tarp (and refrigerated?) next to the river/bridge. It was surrounded by police tape. He saw and talked to people in the town, but didn’t come away with many new conclusions or information that I could see. He has copies of the official document stating “cause of death”, as well as the “appeal” written by the family; and he says he will post them on his blog soon.

  11. Buxi Says:


    Gee, thanks… I’ve just been dying to learn what Reporters Sans Frontiers thought of Xinhua.

    More seriously, the fact that Xinhua acts as the Communist Party’s “throat” isn’t exactly news. It’s somewhere in the party charter, I’m sure. And in recent years (especially recent months), Xinhua has no longer played the rule of complete obfuscation, because that’s what history and the country demands. There is no reason for the Communist Party to protect the officials in Weng’an, because the Party’s survival depends on precisely that, and I think they’re well aware of that. The sooner the facts are clear and the guilty parties in Weng’an are dragged out, the better.

    There is definitely change in the air. Guizhou TV is now broadcasting video of the riot, and promising a detailed investigation according to law.


  12. Buxi Says:

    A Chinese article; everyone seems surprised how open the debate on Xinhua and Strong Country are:

    I hurriedly opened all the major forums, carefully searching for the true story. Quickly I saw that on many forums, amongst the tens of thousands of replies, some were actually saying that Xinhua forums were discussing this. That’s not possible! This serious of an incident, historically this has never been allowed to spread. The claims that Xinhua would allow this kind of discussion to exist must be fake! I was too afraid to click on the link in the story, and instead typed in the full address for the Xinhua forum – shock! There really was “Wang’an incident”, and it was on the front page!

    Searching for the word “Wang’an”, there were more than 6000 posts!!! The fact that Xinhua forums were allowing this debate, is it possible that it’s the actions of a single forum manager…? Although it’s hard to imagine Xinhua’s management could be that weak, but I wanted to confirm the behavior of other “voices” (propaganda), and I found that Strong Country forums – the place that President Hu just visited: “Hold on Wang’An!!!”, “Support the Wang’An people!”, etc, etc – searching for ‘Wang’an’ had more than 800 posts.

    A shocked feeling… the Internet really has changed!

    The “Wang’An” incident is now open, and freedom of speech has really taken a big step forward. We should let the government see that netizens are more than just a mob. We will passionately monitor developments in the case, exercise the wisdom of the netizens, and exercise the netizen’s role as surveillance over the government. The South China Tiger incident, the tent incident… netizens have been actively involved based on our conscience, without any consideration of compensation – and it looks like the results have been very positively received!

  13. BMY Says:


    Let me explain further Buxi’s “Xinhua acts as the Communist Party’s “throat” isn’t exactly news”
    It’s not news at all. we were taught all the time in schools “舆论是党的喉舌“(Media are the party’s throat and tounge). But It’s not on the party charter.

  14. BMY Says:

    the government defined the incident is (according to Xinhua ) “石宗源指出,“6-28”事件是一起起因简单,但被少数别有用心的人员煽动利用,甚至是黑恶势力人员直接插手参与的,公然向我党委、政府挑衅的群体性事件。”

    the definition is backed by center government

  15. XH Says:

    There seems to be another version of the story circulating around very different from what we’ve heard, although it might be rumor, I have no idea. This one is saying that the girl really did drown and that the two suspects were not at all related to the local county officials. It actually made the comparison here to the Lhasa incident. It’s getting more confusing as to just what actually happened.

    http://blog.dwnews.com/?p=38955, see comment 13.

  16. S.K. Cheung Says:

    It is noteworthy that the presence of “open” discussion on China-based sites about this sad sequence of events represents progress; such representation also clearly illustrates how much more progress remains to be achieved…someday.
    Ironically, this seemed to have started with local low level minions trying to cover their asses…certainly not an extinct personality trait in North America.

  17. DJ Says:


    石宗源 is “省委书记、省人大常委会主任” (basically the CCP boss of the Guizhou province for the English only readers). So his pronouncement of this incident is not necessarily the same as one coming from Beijing.

    I am curious what he meant with “胡锦涛总书记作出重要指示” (Hu, the national CCP boss, provided important directives). What are those “directives” from Beijing?

  18. BMY Says:


    石宗源 can says that is very likely backed/directed by ““胡锦涛总书记作出重要指示”” or the central committee

  19. DJ Says:


    I just found that ESWN translated two paragraphs of the news report “starring” 石宗源. Here is the key part:

    Shi Zhongyuan pointed out the 6.28 incident was a simple affair that a small number of people with ulterior motives manage to manipulate and leverage, with the direct participation of organized crime forces, to provoke and challenge the Party and the government publicly. It was a bad situation with serious damages, leading to huge property and economic losses while also affecting the stability and image of Guizhou. Afterwards, the Party central and the State Council paid a high degree of attention. Secretary General Hu Jintao issued an important directive; the Politburo standing committee member and Central Political and Legal Committee secretary Zhou Yongkong issued two important directives; Minister of Public Security Meng Jianzhu telephoned multiple times to command the frontline actions … The provincial Party Commitee and government carried bout the spirit of the important directives from the central government leaders and calmed things down with the restoration of stability being the top priority …

    [Edited to add] ESWN, by the way, was clearly mistaken in attributing this “just about unreadable” article to Xinhua. As shown by the link provided by jen in comment #4 above, this article was carried by the Xinhua Net but originated from Guizhou Daily.

    Then ESWN also seemingly answered my question on what the directive from Hu was, quoting from Ming Pao.

    It is said that Chinese president Hu Jintao has questioned why the disturbance took place. According to informed sources, Hu Jintao personally asked about this incident and what to know, “Why did such a small criminal case trigger such a large-scale mass incident?” In his directive, Hu Jintao demanded that the local government should calm down the demonstrators and protect social stability; at the same time, the directive asked that the local Guizhou media should actively report the affair and lead public opinion, without blocking information from going to the outside.

    [Further edited to add] The very last part of the directive from Hu may sound a bit worse than it is, assuming Ming Pao got it right. The description in Ming Pao is as follows:


    The subtle difference I would introduce in the translation goes as:

    At the same time, Hu directed that there is no reason/need for a blockage of the information flow to the outside. Instead, the local Guizhou media should proactively report the incident and [by not standing on the sideline] play a role in guiding the public discussion of the affair.

  20. jen Says:

    thanks DJ, I realized the difference almost immediately after I posted the Chinese article but didn’t get a chance to look at the Chinese article closely. It’s almost entirely based on stuff from Shi Zongyuan, who is getting vilified online. Though Xinhua still hasn’t published a new Chinese report beyond the original 4 sentence one and the one from the local Guizhou paper.

  21. JD Says:

    Gee Buxi, it’s surprising that you think Xinhua’s more detailed report would actually be worth something, which I why I automatically assumed you were just naive. You think “freedom of speech has taken a big step forward” do you? That’s analysis in the best Xinhua tradition.

  22. DJ Says:


    What’s your point? Would you prefer there not to be any direct and frank discussion about this incident anywhere in China instead? Would that scenario help preserve equilibrium in your world view?

  23. JD Says:

    DJ, my point is that information control and propaganda in China are even more prevalent than generally recognized and trends point towards increasing information control, not decreasing it. Discussions via blogs and SMSs within China are a positive development but there are increasing efforts to restrain them. Free discussion and liberalized circulation of information isn’t an explicit or implicit policy objective.

    Xinhua is, obviously, not a point of direct and frank discussion about the incident. It is a central organ of misinformation and propaganda and it makes no sense to hold it up as a model. If Xinhua were disbanded tomorrow, China would be a far, far better place.

  24. AC Says:

    The official version (in Chinese):


  25. Buxi Says:


    DJ, my point is that information control and propaganda in China are even more prevalent than generally recognized and trends point towards increasing information control, not decreasing it.

    That’s a ridiculous distortion of the truth. The existence of information control and propaganda isn’t even an open secret, it’s been a long established way of doing business. DJ, I would even say ESWN’s translation is pretty accurate, I’m sure Hu Jintao called on the Guizhou media to properly “guide” public discussion of the story; that’s all part of the standard Communist Party’s perception of how media functions in general.

    Your allegation that information control is “increasing” is precisely why human rights organizations like AI and RSF are mocked and rejected as biased garbage by the vast majority of Chinese. Increasing? Increasing from what? There’s a greater amount of control over information flow than 3 years ago? 5 years ago? 15 years ago? 20 years ago? You don’t think open discussion of this topic on Xinhua, the explicit condemnation of government officials is a step forward? What is it, exactly? A step back?

    Thanks AC for the link. Should we translate it here, or should we let ESWN do the job? Actually it looks like the press conference has probably just ended, so the reports are coming in pieces.


    Basically, it is exactly what I predicted at the very top. The Guizhou public security ministry in conjunction with the public relations/media office held a news conference detailing specifics on all those involved. I don’t expect this to silence all the doubters (and why should it?), but coming 3 days after the actual riot, it’s reflective of a new attitude towards openness with the media. It’s the government admitting that the people have a right to access this information.

    – the official version is that the 15 year old girl was out with 3 friends (I’ve heard elsewhere they were drinking);
    – around 10-11 PM at night, the girl made half-joking suicidal comments about jumping in the river;
    – later, girl was sitting on the bridge, friends playing around her;
    – girl falls in.
    – police make determination that it’s a suicide.
    – family demands DNA exam. coroner again determines that there’s no sign of rape.
    – family demands 500,000 RMB from the families of the three friends with the girl.
    – this led to street protests, etc, etc.
    – on 7/1, the family apparently agreed to burial for the girl, but on the condition of one more final autopsy.
    – the autopsy will proceed, with coroners sent by the provincial government joining the local coroners.
    – they’ve arrested 50 people, and still insist they were part of some kind of local criminal organization.
    – identity of all three friends are provided; two are 18+ and working at the local paper factory. All of their parents are local farmers.

    Now, what we do with this information? This is only one side of the story. But, I haven’t heard any reports of reporters being kept from Guizhou (anyone else?), so hopefully we’ll get a full picture on the story soon.

  26. JD Says:

    Buxi, you do a fine job of advising on the official line but do you really expect readers to believe that media control isn’t increasing because you say so? Despite your passion, the evidence contradicts you. Xinhua “open discussion”? Please, don’t be naive. Surely you must understand the role of Xinhua.

    The vast majority of Chinese would like better access to information, particularly on subjects such as the Sichuan earthquake and the efforts to bring those responsible for the collapsing schools to account. The rising popularity of blogs and need to share information via SMS are good indicators. Attempts to stifle such information flow through increased enforcement and threats (false “rumors”,etc) will surely fail, but that’s not stopping authorities from trying.

    Numerous blogs previously accessible in China have been blocked and overall on-line monitoring has been stepped up. Here’s an interesting article which confirms (plus excerpt), in addition to the other sources you cite:


    With the Olympic Games approaching, “the suppression is getting much more severe, just in the recent months” after unrest in Tibet, he said. Reports of greater media freedom in the wake of the recent devastating earthquake in Sichuan province were premature, Zhang said. “As soon as the Chinese authorities regained their function, they resumed their censorship,” he said.

    The propaganda machine has been running at full tilt in 2008. Even foreign blogs and discussions are filled with attempts to misinform and propogate the official line.

  27. werew Says:

    I think Xinhua and Strong Country forum is sending a message to other less central controlled forums to not censor 6-28 related threads. I think the top saw that censoring 6-28 is pointless or that initial censoring and locking of information is done through tradition procedure (made by lower level and not through top directives). This censoring of information goes very much against Hu’s recent speech of leading public opinion. Commercial forums are run by people who don’t want to get into trouble with central government, so without central approval, they don’t dare to allow these kind of threads run free. But now the message is sent, 6-28 threads are not getting deleted anymore, or that’s what I perceive is the phenomenon on Tianya. Some of them are gaining hundreds of replies and the almost all the recent threads are about 6-28. Also I think you are wrong about censorship worsening. Xinhua at least try to talk about it and reported it, although the statement made by Shi Zhongyuan done the exact opposite of calming people down. The central should fire him for being so incompetent and escalating people’s anger. Xinhua and CCP are rather new at this “not-censor-but-talk-about-it-to-lead-public-opinion” business. I think they will improve in the future and react faster, allow flow of information, and not resort to stupid political CCP language.

    By the way, here are the official document on the rape/murder/suicide case, retrieved by the same guy from the link I posted last time.

  28. werew Says:

    NVM, they are still deleting threads on Tianya. I just checked and several of the popular ones just got deleted.

  29. MutantJedi Says:

    The CCP wants the appearance of openness.
    It’s like trying to figure out what’s going on behind a fence by using the slats as a zoetrope. I don’t see the CCP running with the unity and precision of one of North Korea’s mass performances. … perhaps more like herding cats with a lease that gets longer the further the cat is away from the central government.

    I can see a link between media censorship, spreading false rumors, shutting down blogs, etc and 30,000 (Xinhua’s number) people participating (from active to passive gawker) in a mob/protest/riot.

    Wen and Hu are smart enough to see this link too. So, why are we always seeing the same sort of pattern. Is the illusion of controlling the message so seductive that they just can’t let go. Or is the problem getting the cats inline. The backgrounds and corruption of many many officials must make this a daunting task.

  30. SR Says:

    JD, ‘Reporters without Borders’ has made itself a clown after it was revealed to had taken and was continuously taking money from CIA. You lost all your credibility when citing them as reference. Or wait, whose payroll is your name on?

  31. Buxi Says:


    I believe the CCP can handle actual openness, but the concern is that others will control the media the same way that the CCP currently does, except for *other* political purposes. That’s not hypocritical, that’s just the way they see the world. If someone is going to control the media, they’d rather it be them instead of money interests controlled by those in Western capitals.

    And some Chinese sympathize at least somewhat with this point of view, because it’s easy to suspect a foreign political hand involved in the Eastern European color revolutions…

  32. FOARP Says:

    @Buxi – On the other hand, it was quite easy to see who was backing people like Milosevic and Yanukovich. George Soros may have paid for the rock bands, but nobody was paying the people who backed the Orange revolution to be there. As much as I dislike the influence that people like Murdoch (and his loathsome wife) have over some sections of the media, they cannot be said to control the flow of information in the way that the CCP tries to.

  33. EugeneZ Says:

    “It is said that Chinese president Hu Jintao has questioned why the disturbance took place. According to informed sources, Hu Jintao personally asked about this incident and what to know, “Why did such a small criminal case trigger such a large-scale mass incident?”

    Excellent question, Mr. Hu! I am curious what the answers you come up with. In my view, it is the real or perceived lack of social justice in the minds of China’s Mr. Johnny Six Pack ! In my personal experience, legal means of resolving legal issues is only one trick out of many, and legal resolutions are arbitrary and always negotiable (based on power, money, influence, and connection). Power is the strongest currency in the Chinese society, and it is tradable, although not as efficiently as goods on eBay. To digress, one time I came up an idea of starting an internet auction business to trade power amongst Chinese government officials, the market potential is huge. It is a currency appreciating as fast as China’s GDP, 10-11% a year, namely. I dropped my idea because friends tell me that such a business might be illegal.

    Having said that power has extraordinary tangible and intangible value in China, the question of ligitimacy is huge. And that is the question that Mr. Hu or his postdeccessor needs to figure out.

  34. MutantJedi Says:

    Good grief SR.
    Discredit the reference certainly. I read the report and found it to be opinion, which is a far stones throw away from proof or confirmation. But when you fire off this “whose payroll is your name on” stuff, you are only feeding the unproductive paranoid “Spy vs Spy” stuff where, in the end, nothing is believed. And when nothing is believed you will have social unrest.

    “Why did such a small criminal case trigger such a large-scale mass incident?” Like EugeneZ, I am curious what answers the party will come up with. (I really wish people would provide references to the things they quote. I also wonder how an alleged murder/rape is small. Small is like shoplifting. Makes me wonder if Hu was really asked this question.)

    No. I don’t buy that the CCP can handle actual openness. If they can, I ask for a public discussion on 6/4. How about something simpler, a public inquiry on the building practices in Sichuan with respect to the collapsed schools? Not going to happen? I guess it would be too much to push for a public examination on … well… I am wasting my breath. And, by your own contradiction, you also know I’m wasting my breath. You can’t have both the CCP being able to handle openness and the CCP controls the media for their own political purpose.

    This is a reoccurring pattern. Religion is controlled which creates a belief vacuum which makes the public vulnerable to anything wacky enough to get through, such as the FLG. Media is controlled which creates a knowledge vacuum which makes the public vulnerable to anything wacky enough to get through, such as baseless rumors and even the foreign propaganda that the party fears.

    I am not anti-CCP. But, their own paternalism is the greatest threat to social stability in China. They have to recognize that the people are growing up. The people can figure out for themselves what is good for China.

  35. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Buxi #31:
    You’ve been consistent in your criticism of the CCP’s information-control penchant. Don’t start being their apologist now. That they have their perceived reasons for acting a certain way does not excuse it, nor make it any more acceptable.

  36. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To SR:
    I agree with MJ. I thought the bloggers here were above the “who’s on whose payroll” nonsense.

  37. Wahaha Says:


    Do you know why West media put so much accusation on the information control in China ?

    I am not saying I like it, I hate it !!!. I like chinese government stops censoring the information within China, but I fully support its censorship on information from outside world.

    If there was no internet censorship against West media, China’s internet would be flooded with attacks by West media, West media will search in every corner of China for bad news and put it on the internet. From what I have read in West, no government would be able to function under such attacks.

    For example, even West democracy has failed embarassingly in poor or developing country, you never read any articles on media questioning the possible flaws in democratic system, they always try to find other explanations, a lot of Americans dont even know Russia has become an authoritarian country.

    No government would allow media’s questioning its political system. There is no exception !

  38. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha:
    The way to counter misinformation is with information. Is the CCP not confident that those sophisticated enough to access the internet would be able to discern “reality” from the seas of information and misinformation. As noted elsewhere, it reflects a very paternalistic attitude…CCP know best, trust us…
    So instead, CCP controls all information. The Cantonese phrase would be “chop off your toes to avoid the ants in the sand”…I don’t know if that translates properly into mainland Chinese, or if it’s just a HK phrase.
    North American internet is not censored…are we flooded with attacks to the point of distraction? I can’t speak for of the US government, but our Canadian government is functioning just fine, thank you very much.
    If the CCP can’t trust her own citizens to make proper use of information, then she either doesn’t have a very high opinion of her own people, or she’s afraid of the conclusions people might draw from such information.

  39. Wahaha Says:


    here we go again, ” is CCP not confident ….”.

    There are 1.3 billion people in China, there is no way that government can solve all the problems at same time, you have to give government time to solve problem one by one !!!

    Though West scholars talk about the economic accomplishment under Chinese government, West media always attack the problem chinese government has not yet been able to solve, and claimed that the political system will never be able to solve.

    Suppose the gas price is $10/ a gallon, and all the media tell you is that Obama will not be able to solve it, but Hilary has solution, you would vote for Hilary even you are from Obama’s hometown.

  40. MutantJedi Says:

    Oddly, I find myself sympathetic to Wahaha’s arguments but not to the point of agreement. Sometimes the stupidity that happens south of the border simply makes my brain hurt. These people build museums and theme parks dedicated to the concept of a 6000 year old universe.

    However, in the cloud of American lunacy, you will also find rational voices from all sorts of perspectives. There is no way you would ever ever find a unified voice in the media for one candidate on any issue. If you had “all the media” going one direction, there would be a strong market created for disrupting voices. Sure the American media is driven by the market but a free market is self-correcting.

    I think a few events of 2008 casts a bit of a shadow on the thesis that the Chinese people need to be protected from negative Western press. I’ve got “Don’t be too CNN” in my iTunes playlist. 🙂

    It’s also a bias to presume that all Western press is negative to China.

    Where do we draw the line Wahaha? Censor outside but not inside. Hmm… What if on the inside someone talks about something on the outside? What if someone visits from the outside and starts talking about outside things? What if someone from the inside goes outside and comes back? Are there enough bricks to build a wall high and wide enough? And exactly where do we build this wall? Actually, I think you’ve already got this wall and you’re not too happy with it. Censorship of outside information is tightly linked with internal censorship.

    Trust is the government’s big problem and that didn’t get eroded by the Western media.

  41. BMY Says:

    I am not the fan of no censorship. I think porn,criminal activities sites, religion extremist sites.gambling sites,violent Hollywood movies,violent computer games etc should be filtered.

    I like the Singapore style censorship but not the Chinese government’s censorship.


    I don’t think the media attacks would just simply disable a government.

    “No government would allow media’s questioning its political system. There is no exception” is not true if you look around and would find almost every government get attacks from media all the time.

    a side note: you might not need so many “!!!!” to state your point.

  42. Wahaha Says:


    Criticizing government is different from attacking the political system.

    Communism was considered as a threat to the political system in West after WWII, So came McCathyism and communist members were suppressed until global economic failure in communist countries.

    Criticizing government means “Changing tires for my car.”

    Attacking political system means “Changing engine for my car.”

    A BMW is still a BMW after changing tire; a BMW is no longer a BMW after replacing with a Toyota engine.

  43. MutantJedi Says:

    BMY – yes, absolutely, the government needs to censor somethings. I’d add to your list things that incite hate. Of course, the question is always where is the line drawn. What is a crime? In some places, what you call your teddy bear can be a very very serious crime.

    Even violence becomes sticky… I hated Home Alone because of its violence but I love Kung Fu Hustle.

    Where that line gets drawn is interesting. We could argue, like Oli did with religion (and I don’t completely disagree with him), that the line is already drawn to keep the media within socially acceptable bounds. Even the media needs to obey the law.

    What a tangle. But as someone pointed out, the point of reference in measurement of China needs to be within China. 1976 to 1989 to now. 加油中国!

  44. Wahaha Says:


    I dont know if you have read “China’s new intelligentsia” by Mark Leonard, there are lot of thinktankers in China trying to find a proper way for the future of democracy in China.

    I dont think West media will help the democratic process in China, on the contrary, it may hurt the democratic process in China. Like the report 3.14 in Lhasa, west media “proved” government’s point that “some people in West try to divide China. The report by west media is so formated: first, something bad happened in China, then somehow it was a problem of human right, then look what “communist party” did, then back to human right, then concludes that China needs West democracy.

    Chinese dont need this crap, cuz the thinktankers in China know the problems, they will study the democratic systems in other countries, I am sure that they read Gordon Chang’s “The Coming Collapse of China”; I am sure that they studied the democratic development in South Korea; I am sure that they studied the democratic system in India; and I am sure that they studied what has happend in Russia in last 17 years.

    West media and West politicians never mentioned how democracy went in other countries, they just talk. Chinese thinktankers dont need textbooks, only examples can convince them, if no example, then “cross the river by groping the stone”. If some Chinese refuse to ignore the examples and wave the textbooks of democracy, like little red guard waved little red books in culture revolution, they better not play a part in the democratic process in China.

  45. Wahaha Says:


    To your question :
    ………..Where do we draw the line Wahaha?

    My answer :

    Complete the sentence, dont talk like “you are wrong. you should follow (our) rule.” West media better talk like “You are wrong, if you had followed (my) rule, the result would be ……”.

  46. Buxi Says:


    I do hope we’re above the “who are you paid by” kind of debate on this blog. But that said, RSF as an institution is pretty clearly selective in some of its targeting… look at the number of journalists it lists as being killed in Iraq or Pakistan this year, versus China. And then look at what its (only) activist campaign is focused on.

    A significant amount of their financing comes from (according to their website) “private foundations (the Soros Fondation, the Center for a Free Cuba, the National Endowment for Democracy and the Fondation de France)”. At least three of these are politically motivated. To be honest, if we were funded by China’s “National Endowment for Socialism” (which doesn’t exist), I think you would have every reason to question our motives.


    Understanding the motives of the CCP in controlling the media doesn’t mean being an “apologist” for it. Even in the United States, very firm rules exist to keep any single entity from controlling too much of the media in any market; that’s also a recognition of the dangers and power of media.

    For me, my interest is more on how to find a solution that allows open reporting/debate for the Chinese in China, while addressing the CCP’s concern. A Singapore-style solution seems possible to me.

  47. MutantJedi Says:

    I don’t have the answers. Frankly, the answers must come from the Chinese, even if that means “cross the river by groping the stone.” (请问,那句话是成语吗?)

    I’m confused with your comment #45. What I was trying to say was that it is very difficult to draw the censorship line at the border without compromising free speech inside the country.

  48. Buxi Says:


    I don’t have the answers. Frankly, the answers must come from the Chinese, even if that means “cross the river by groping the stone.” (请问,那句话是成语吗?)

    It’s not a traditional idiom. It’s a quote from Deng Xiaoping during the early years of the reform process, similar to the black cat/white cat thing. It means exactly what it sounds like: cross an unknown river by feeling for stones with our feet.

  49. MutantJedi Says:


    I read the report that was referenced earlier. It fitted too neatly into a formatted package. Criticism of an organization based on its funding is absolutely fair game.

    I don’t know a lot about Singapore (don’t sell chewing gum, don’t litter, and don’t forget to flush). Can you detail a Singapore-style solution?

  50. Wahaha Says:


    Sorry, I dont have answer for the line of censorship, I am not political major. Chinese dont mind criticism, but the criticism better be constructive ( even better with concrete examples), not destructive, the report better be connected to the problems Chinese really care, not the problem West care. Most important, dont treat us like we were brainwashed.

  51. Buxi Says:


    I know only a little more than you about Singapore, but I do know that it’s accused of basically banning politically motivated speech, and even censors “slanderous” foreign media.

    I’m sure we have someone here who’s very familiar with the Singapore system? I’d really like to learn more.

  52. MutantJedi Says:

    🙂 What is the Deng Xiaoping quote in Chinese?

  53. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha #39:
    “Suppose the gas price is $10/ a gallon, and all the media tell you is that Obama will not be able to solve it, but Hilary has solution, you would vote for Hilary even you are from Obama’s hometown” – do Americans seem that stupid to you? If so, you need to associate with a different group of Americans; or make up much much better examples. By the way, your examples, while often colourful, don’t actually support your point, because those examples are all arbitrary.

    “Attacking political system means “Changing engine for my car.”” – not such a bad thing if you can find a better engine. And that’s the problem you create in a one party system where the government and the political system are one and the same.

  54. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To BMY:
    I think restricting access to porn, etc is a legal issue, and not censorship in the same sense as what can occur in China. But I agree, some of those are absolutely necessary.

  55. BMY Says:


    this blog has talked a lot about the democracy for China and many western media’s bias. Buxi and Youzi had very different views regarding democracy just on the 3 threads few days ago.

    I also agree with you regarding the textbook democracy if you see my comment about Youzi, but “…they better not play a part in the democratic process in China” might go too far.

    Also MutantJedi has never denied the media bias towards China and never talked like superior self-righteous person . You were targeting her like she is RSF might not be very fair.

  56. Wahaha Says:

    To SKC,

    How many Americans care if the elected governers keep their promises ? I know they care once every 4 years.

  57. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Buxi #46:
    I agree. re: the media in the US, I think it’s also to do with anti-trust issues, akin to Microsoft and IE. No one likes a monopoly, but if anything that’s what China has wrt media (official ones anyway).

  58. Wahaha Says:


    I didnt target MutantJedi.

    Yes, sometimes I sound like an “extremist”(my apology), to balance the “extremists” on the other end.

  59. Buxi Says:


    I think it’s important to keep in mind that you’re debating with two specific people, not necessarily “everyone in the West”. And both S.K.Cheung and MutantJedi both have made good points.

    Word of advice to all, I don’t think we’re here to fight for China’s “independence”… I can understand why you might feel like we need to because of discussions on other forums, but the reason we’re here is to explain our point of view, not necessarily tell them that they should go away.

  60. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha:
    how the heck should I know? Some? A bunch? How about at least the number who voted against the incumbent in the subsequent election. What’s that got to do with anything? Do people care if their governors keep ALL their promises? Some? Just the really important ones? I do think they care more than once every 4 years; it’s just that they get to act on those sentiments at those intervals. Having said all that, I have no idea of what you speak.

  61. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha:
    if I was an extremist, do you think I’d be bothering with this blog? I think you’re barking up the wrong tree.

  62. BMY Says:


    your #52:摸着石头过河

  63. MutantJedi Says:

    谢谢BMY 🙂

  64. sara Says:

    we need the truth

  65. FOARP Says:

    “A BMW is still a BMW after changing tire; a BMW is no longer a BMW after replacing with a Toyota engine.”

    Conversely, a Honda Civic is still a Honda Civic even after putting a supercharger in the engine, giving it a full body-kit, lowering the suspension, fixing neon lighting to the underside, a rear spoiler, giving it a neato Olympic-themed “Jia You Zhongguo!” paint job, a go-faster stripe, and changing the hub caps for those ones which continue to rotate even when the car is stopped.

    Someone out there needs to write a piece on the street-racing subculture that is growing in cities like Shanghai, all I know is what a HKer I sat next to on my last flight back from Shanghai told me – and it sounds totally wicked.

  66. TibetanPhotoProject Says:

    I just want to toss in a couple sources into the media mix when trying to sort out some truth to China’s media. These are not meant as anything other than added resources and other perspectives. http://www.tibet.net and our own effort at http://www.tibetanphotoproject.com

    Visually and Respectfully, Joe and Sazzy

  67. Wahaha Says:

    To, SKC

    You ask me “if American seems stupid.”. No, lot of them are very smart, lot of them are very intelligent. But I think they are very naive about their political system, they only care if they can vote or not, they dont care if their votes count. They think cuz they can vote once every 4 years, they think the government is their government, that is ridiculous.

    That if government is people’s government or not is not determined by the voting system, it is determined by what kind of people “drive” the government, the driver determine the direction of the “bus”. You can “vote” for a driver to take you a good hotel, but what if the driver was tipped by a hotel, he will take you to the hotel anyway.(you know this happens everywhere in tour business.) Does that mean your vote in any way guarantee you a good hotel ? you may select different drivers again and again, you still wont find a good hotel, if, all the drivers are tipped.

    When you talk people’s government, the first thing you should care is if the “drivers” are “tipped”, not if you can vote or not. The real democracy is that you can select a driver who is not tipped, otherwise it is faked democracy.

  68. Wahaha Says:

    “not such a bad thing if you can find a better engine.”

    Sorry to say, this is so called west arrogance. How do you know your engine is better ? maybe your engine is better for a car on a nice highway, but our car will go into mountains.

  69. Wahaha Says:

    The job of free media is to inform the passengers in the car that the driver is on the wrong route, or is about to turn left while he should turn right.

    But what if the media purposely give the passengers wrong information ? what if the media doesnt know the information the driver knows ?

    Why should we change our driver NOW as west media told us ? the driver has done pretty good job.

  70. Buxi Says:


    Someone out there needs to write a piece on the street-racing subculture that is growing in cities like Shanghai, all I know is what a HKer I sat next to on my last flight back from Shanghai told me – and it sounds totally wicked.

    I know a liiiiiitttle bit about it, having known some racers in Beijing (also doing a steady business in marijuana). First of all, there’s absolutely a huge street-racing subculture in HK, Taiwan, and the overseas Chinese community. If the term “rice rocket” isn’t in the English dictionary yet, it should be.

    And there are plenty of posers in mainland China, looking to adopt anything they see in the West. Any hip-hop club in Beijing is regularly packed with kids wearing Sean Jean, LeBron James jerseys, and bandanas… Chinese kids who’ve never actually seen the projects, dealt with 5-0, or slung crack. But yes, racing is something they’re picking up…

    But in reality… so far at least, this is a tiny minority. Very small number. The vast majority of Chinese kids are still “good kids” who listen to their parents, study hard, and occasionally sleep around (or at least brag about it).

  71. Buxi Says:


    I just want to toss in a couple sources into the media mix when trying to sort out some truth to China’s media. These are not meant as anything other than added resources and other perspectives. http://www.tibet.net and our own effort at http://www.tibetanphotoproject.com


    Thanks for visiting.

    Tibet.net is regular reading for us, as well as many other Chinese. We’re well aware what the TGIE and CTA are saying. The fact that a conflict remains isn’t because we don’t know their perspective, its because we simply disagree. I do wonder if they know our perspective, however…

    Any plans to film and document inside China? I hope you aren’t going to suggest there are no authentic elements of Tibetan culture and religion inside China. The people at Kham-Aid are doing very good work (in cooperation with the government in many incidences) in preserving, restoring, and documenting Tibetan cultural heritage in western Sichuan.

  72. FOARP Says:

    @Buxi – Ever go to Pegasus in Shanghai on hip-hop night? Incredible to see what are obviously the off-spring of rich parents busting do-rags and basketball jerseys like it was South-Central or something. On the other hand, hearing 南京话的rap was quite cool, even if I didn’t understand one word in ten. Rice Racers (and the people who supply body-kits, neons etc. for them) are definitely something that’s going to take off in the next few years.

  73. Netizen Says:

    For CCP, it’s impossible to to give the masses the real picture

  74. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha:
    it is ironic, humourous, and belies incredible (and misplaced) arrogance for a guy who’s been in the west for 10 years to be passing judgement on our system of governance. This blog isn’t about the US or Canada. But how many Americans or Canadians do you think would want the Chinese system here (apart from you, perhaps)? Now, how many PRC Chinese would prefer something other than what they’ve got, do you figure?
    Seriously, have you been royally screwed over by someone? You’ve got a chip on your shoulder the size of Texas. Even with your relative inexperience with democracy, can you conceive that perhaps most people around you are generally content with it?
    If you’re talking corruption, yes there’s corruption. So are we going to compare the extent of corruption here vs in China? Some US rep from San Diego (I forget his name, Duke something, I think) got a little chummy with some military hardware companies last year, and is now in jail. What happens to corrupt officials in China? And again with your absolutely goofy “examples”…last I checked, we weren’t electing bus drivers, or tour operators. So if you have proof of corruption, our system has means to deal with it. Does yours?? And if you don’t have proof, then stop spouting off already.
    Oh yeah, our engine is better. How many countries in the world use a variation of our engine? How many countries in the world still use yours? How many who once used yours have seen the light and made the switch? I don’t mind if you say that China isn’t ready for some form of democracy today; but if you’re saying that China’s system is better than ours, you’re 4 standard deviations beyond ridiculous.

  75. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha #69:
    forgot to add, so is all western media in cahoots now? Huge conspiracy to pull the wool over people’s eyes? And everyone in the media is in on it. Geez buddy you’ve got a good and warped imagination. Is our government sending us subliminal messages as well? Perhaps putting stuff in our water? Where do you get off?

  76. Buxi Says:


    You’re misinterpreting Wahaha’s words. He never claimed that the United States would want the Chinese model; the United States is at a totally different stage of development, and it has the luxury of MANY things that China can not afford.

    What he said is that many Americans naively assume the American model is best under all conditions, and well, we think that’s simply not correct.

  77. Wahaha Says:


    I mentioned before, the wealthier the country is, the more freedom the government will give to its citizens.

    You are living in a country with only 33 million people, vast deposit of natual resource and income average $36,000 a year, you wont hear much complains. There is nothing media needs to cover up.

    How about let us compare US media report on Iraq war to China media report on Weng’an ?

  78. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Buxi:
    I think he’s saying Americans are naive to think their model is best for their condition; his post didn’t even mention China.

  79. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Wahaha:
    sounds like the official Chinese media report on Weng’an is still filled with fluffy language; the more direct stuff still seems to be coming from individuals and blogs…hardly what the government should take credit for, unless you feel their allowing access to such blogs is of itself deserving of credit.
    I agree the US media failed miserably in the run up to the Iraq invasion. However, the shortcomings of the war effort and the underlying policy seem to garner ample coverage now. I agree more should be said about the Iraqi perspective.
    “nothing media needs to cover up” – certainly true in Canada. But what does the media NEED to cover up in China. Why does the media NEED to cover up anything? Ok, China is poorer than we are. So her citizens require and deserve less information than us?

  80. Buxi Says:

    The real picture is becoming more and more clear. A news video with the three teenagers with the girl when she died, and previously accused of rape:



    This kind of open coverage is taken for granted in the West… but almost unheard of in modern China. I agree with you that Chinese citizens deserve more information, not less.


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