Sep 15

(Letter) Chinese Netters react to Voice of Germany Suspending Chinese Editor Zhang Danhong

Written by guest on Monday, September 15th, 2008 at 9:42 am
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Chinese netters have reacted to the suspension of Voice of Germany’s veteran editor Zhang Danhong for comments that were “too pro-China”. Here’s the backgrounder.

With many netters already suspicious of Western media after the slanted reporting over the Lhasa riot, have held up this as yet another example of Western media’s mandate to vilify China.

Here are some netter’s comments on Baidu:

Zhang Danhong’s trouble has nothing to do with eastern values, it’s the way her opinion has turned Western media’s values upside down. In reality it is the mandate of German mainstream media to demonize China

The reason for Zhang Danhong’s suspension is because her language does not match the views her employer, and being contrary to the German media. So what is German media’s tone? What is Zhang’s tone?
In the last two years, German media has been passionate about reporting China negativly and unfairly… and Zhang? She only said a few honest words when she thought about China’s success in pulling 400 million people out of poverty in recent decades.

On the surface, this is an example of Western media’s double standard. In reality, it is a reflection of the environment and public opinion. Zhang Danhong had thought, Voice of Germany’s attitude change towards her is because of the enormous external pressure. Seemingly, this is not only contradiction to principle of free media, more so contradiction to [Western] ideals.

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53 Responses to “(Letter) Chinese Netters react to Voice of Germany Suspending Chinese Editor Zhang Danhong”

  1. Allen Says:

    If anyone doubted that Free Speech is not free in the West – here is a concrete example why it’s not.

    By being profit driven, most media must survive by being “popular.” The problem is that to be “popular,” the media must report issues in a rhetoric, easy to digest, sound-bite fashion. In such environments, no serious discussion can be carried out.

    When someone like Zhang comes along, she challenges the ideologies held by the editors and readers. This threatens to make the paper unpopular – hence she must go.

    So even if we assume there are no conspiracies that control media (a big if), through many such little processes of self control, the media nevertheless becomes nothing more than a mouth piece of existing ideologies.

  2. Charles Liu Says:

    A retired media personality in Germany has commented in defense of Zhang:


    Can’t shut her up, so shut her pocket instead…

  3. raffiaflower Says:

    Intrstg to note how both Germany and France have swung from China-friendly leaders to more distant relationships.
    Chirac was said to be a Japanophile and had more than average knowledge of China. He opened the Montagnes Celeste exhibition in 2004(?) together with Hu Jintao, and the show was ironically sponsored by LVMH.
    Chancellor Schroeder also took a more pragmatic view of China, like former premier Tony Blair today. He was entertained once by a group of visiting Chinese children who sang Jasmine (mo li hua) for him.
    Today Angela Merkel prefers to meet Dalai Lama, LVMH was bashed for being pro-Tibetan independence and Sarkozy oversees anti-China street riots.
    Is it all in the stars, or guided by the hand of man?

  4. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Once again, wait a second. Seems Zhang said some pro-China things, and she was suspended. Those 2 things are both true, but you have yet to show a causal relationship, innuendo aside. And your backgrounder link seemed so eager to get the word out on the street, it didn’t have time to wait for a comment from the parties themselves. Now, i can understand going to “press” with comments from one side alone, if the other side is slow to respond even when given ample opportunity to present their side of the story. But to run with it with NEITHER side of the story…I’m no journalism major, but that seems pretty weak.

    So before people get frothing about “western media bias” (although it is refreshing that this is of the non US/UK variety), maybe we need a few more facts first.

  5. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Allen:
    “By being profit driven, most media must survive by being “popular.” – agreed, for the most part. Although you should distinguish that media needn’t be popular to everyone everywhere to survive. Hence you have Fox News. So as long as there is diversity of what it means to be popular, such popular media will represent at least some diversity of perspective. And if, even in that environment of diversity, some opinions aren’t propagated, well, that’s a form of Darwinism too. That, to me, is not a failing of the media. For as I said in the other thread, you should have a right to speak, but you shouldn’t expect a right to be heard.

  6. Charles Liu Says:

    The oped mentioned earlier is from Neue Rheinische Zeitung, where retired journalist Volker Bräutigam accused DW of self-censorship, and German media of spreading distorted picture of China.

  7. Michelle Says:

    Allen, “If anyone doubted that Free Speech is not free in the West – here is a concrete example why it’s not.”

    Sorry, I know i rubbed you the wrong way before in terms of legalities, but free speech does not guarantee the right to be published. Perhaps she has some wrongful termination argument….

    “the media nevertheless becomes nothing more than a mouth piece of existing ideologies.” Yes, I completely agree. How can this be avoided?

  8. Theo Says:

    The case of Zhang Danhong is a very interesting debate for Germany and for China. Should an employee of the state’s nominally independent news service be able to speak out in favour of one political party? Especially when a country has had a long experience of totalitarian parties … believe me, Germans are quite aware of the value of freedom of speech, having endured book burning and then having half the country hermeticall sealed off from it for thirty years …
    Please remember that until 1989 much of Germany was ruled by that great friend of China, Erich Honecker, and his Communist Party. Even our leader Angela Merkel was a young pioneer, so Germans are a bit tired and annoyed when people who are supposed to be independent start telling us that the Commnist Party is the great upholder of human rights. Where have we heard that before – oh, yes, from the loudspeaker in the classroom, at the military parades and the political rallies. If Ms Zhang wants to praise the Communist Party achievements she should start her own radio station, not use the one funded by German taxpayers. And if we want to debate freedom of speech I think I will choose the country that ranks 20th in the world for press freedom before the one that ranks 163rd.

    In the meantime, I look forward to seeing what the lawyers for Xinhua say in the German court case brought by the Focus magazine journallist falsely accused of being Falun Gong agents by Xinhua. Will Xinhua retract and apologise or be found guilty and face the legal consequences?

  9. wuming Says:


    “Please remember that until 1989 much of Germany was ruled by that great friend of China, Erich Honecker, and his Communist Party.”

    I am missing that part of history when Erich Honecker was a great friend of China. Please enlighten me

  10. Wahaha Says:


    Please dont educate us about Human right, we know the problems in China, and there are reasons out there that we still support this government, cuz when we talk about people in China. We dont talk about how each individual benefits or suffer from the system, We use percentage, like how 80% of Chinese feel, our time is very precious, we wont let the whole process stop simply cuz 1 out of 100 or 1 out of 1000 feels differently.

    Read the following :


    If I read the temper of our people correctly, we now realize as we have never realized before our interdependence on each other; that we can not merely take but we must give as well; that if we are to go forward, we must move as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice for the good of a common discipline, because without such discipline no progress is made, no leadership becomes effective. We are, I know, ready and willing to submit our lives and property to such discipline, because it makes possible a leadership which aims at a larger good. This I propose to offer, pledging that the larger purposes will bind upon us all as a sacred obligation with a unity of duty hitherto evoked only in time of armed strife.

    With this pledge taken, I assume unhesitatingly the leadership of this great army of our people dedicated to a disciplined attack upon our common problems.


    Franklin D. Roosevelt.

    That, is what Chinese are doing.

  11. Charles Liu Says:

    Theo @ 8, okay DW is German government funded propaganda outlet, and if Zhang wants to work there she should toe the German government’s line to report unfriendly to China.

    Here’s a commentary on ChinaElections.org (part of Carter Foundation) that talks about other German journalists being fired for “too friendly to China”:


    Dieter Klaus Hennig, a senior sports editor, was fired by a private news agency, SID, where most of the German local media deem that Hennig has been ousted for his prolonged pro-China stance.

  12. Bob Says:

    One has to wonder has the ghost of Nazi returned to Germany lately?

    Remember the persecution of Jews in pre-WWII Germany didn’t just happen overnight. It seems the Germany under Angela Merkel is looking for a new target, of which the Chinese are most convenient choice.

  13. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Charles #11:
    good god, could you not find a link that at least proffers some semblance of neutrality? Or at least one that at least claims to quote Zhang or an official DW Radio spokesperson, rather than a Chinese Ministry spokesperson with the CCP-interpretation of the events? This last piece was even sourced from the People’s Daily! Once again, it’s the pot disparaging the kettle.

    “reporters need to keep certain distance from Beijing and should be beyond the hoopla and type of the Games with an implication that Hennig’s reports were not “clean”. In other words, Hennig should have made his stories dirtier or “filthier” with his reports of China’s sports events.” – you know, someone less prone to conspiracy theories would interpret the statement as suggesting that reporters need to maintain neutrality…so in other words, perhaps this Hennig chap’s stories about Chinese sporting events should be more neutral. Not sure how the writer inferred cleanliness from that deal, but again, it is the People’s Daily…

  14. FOARP Says:

    This piece is an example of why I no longer read this website as much as I used to. There’s nothing but opinion in the article, there’s not even any quotes from the people actually involved, just ‘Chinese people are angry about X’, neither Zhang nor DW (what’s this ‘Voice of Germany’?) have actually come forward to say why she lost her job.

  15. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Bob:
    Nazis? Are you for real? You are now quoting Xinhua verbatim from Charles’ link in #11. And BTW, that’s not a good thing.

  16. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Admin:
    as you know, anything that indiscriminately accuses western media (however you define that) of systematic conspiratorial bias against China is a non starter for me.

    That being said, I do think that some western journalists need refreshers on maintaining neutrality. And there should be more balance of well-deserved positive stories about China versus the well-deserved negative ones. That to me is a point worth making.

    But seriously, some of the recent examples on this blog of purported media bias have fallen woefully short of making that point, and rather than highlighting the biases of the media, seem to do more to highlight your own. That is truly unfortunate.

  17. Charles Liu Says:

    SK, how about the link in 6? That’s not from Xinhua.

    If the Carter Foundation saw it fit to reprint, there must be something compelling about it.

  18. admin Says:


    Appreciate your comment. As you may be aware, this piece is a submission and was not written by me or our regular writers. I have personally said many times that the western media bias (real or perceived) should not be the focus of this blog.

    With that said, the direction and the quality of this blog is and will be determined by the collective inputs from regular writers, occasional contributors, and all commentators. A well thought entry could degenerate into a shouting match. A so-so post could be brought back to life by a bright comment. We will have ups and downs, but hopefully we can work together to make this forum worth everybody’s time.

    As for the topic itself, I found it was interesting because (allegedly) Zhang was suspended for her pro-China bias (this post linked a German source).

    Finally, I find it amusing that some people who were vehemently defending the “crooked teeth” reporting now find it’s objectionable to express opinions without first-hand interviews.

  19. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Admin:
    for the record, I didn’t “defend” the crooked teeth reporting. I objected to the characterization that a sports reporter here and an op-ed piece there using quotes that are neither proven nor disproven should equate to an indictment of all western journalists and all western media. So if you previously objected to my misrepresenting you, please don’t misrepresent me.

    And at least there, they purportedly quoted somebody. Even that seems to be lacking here.

  20. admin Says:


    I did not say you “defended” the crooked teeth reporting. Sorry if you felt it was a dig at you.

  21. admin Says:


    Thanks for holding this blog up to the same standard as The Times, which “misquoted” somebody to come up with a report “China banned child singer with crooked teeth from singing at opening ceremony.” I hope we can do better, even for guest submissions.

    As I understand it
    1) Zhang expressed her pro-China personal opinions (as a panelist, not in her official duty) and it caused an uproar in some German media.
    2) Zhang was then suspended.
    3) The comments from Chinese Netizens are translated in this post with original Chinese text provided.

    This post is about Chinese netter’s response. It’s a fair game to say that the response is irrational or the samples given here are incomplete. However, to criticize this entry for lacking a quote from Zhang herself or Voice of Germany is a bit nitpicking, don’t you think?

  22. ChinkTalk Says:

    I was the one posted this link from the People’s Daily.

    I am a multi-generational Chinese Canadian and my knowledge of China is limited. I have the highest regard for the integrity of this blog and the people who are involved in it. And that is the reason why I ask this blog to verify the validity of the claims from the People’s Daily. Despite the difference in opinions, I have respect for all participants on this blog – the great quality of the comments are unmatched in any other blogs or media that I have seen.

  23. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Admin:
    my objection is not to the netters’ response. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. My objection was to the contents of the link, as I thought I had suggested by writing “And your backgrounder link seemed so eager to get the word out on the street,…” in # 4. If the backgrounder was supposed to be a journalistic piece, I don’t think questioning journalistic standards is nitpicking.

    As for the teeth, a “misquote” to you was an as-yet unsubstantiated quote to me. But that’s also nitpicking.

  24. admin Says:


    I think we actually have more agreement than disagreement. The backgrounder link has a good dose of opinions. However, I don’t think anyone has disputed the basic facts stated there. It is a post on an internet forum and nowhere does it pretend to be a journalistic piece.

    I did a quick search on Google and the two English newspapers that covered this are China Daily and Epoch Times, which are not known for high journalistic standards. I also asked a friend who lives in Germany but he is not even aware of it. I have posted a link in the above comment so anybody who reads German can dig this further if interested.

  25. Charles Liu Says:

    I’m the one posted the backgrounder. After reviewing some links I found the Topix entry most comprehensive. If you have a problem with it you can sign up and comment on Topix.

    “eager” is a very subjective description; I don’t see it. It is factual – if there’s anything wrong go ahead and disput it on Topix.

    If you don’t like it, that’s too bad. Seeing the comments some people find it quite compelling.

  26. Charles Liu Says:

    ChinaTalk, see the OpEd in comment #6, Volker Bräutigam is a retired journalist in Germany.

  27. Charles Liu Says:

    In addition to Volker Bräutigam, our well respected Roland covered this two weeks ago:


    It has both China and overseas references, both for and against Zhang. As it seems if anything not in dispute is the facts of the case.

  28. Theo Says:

    “I am missing that part of history when Erich Honecker was a great friend of China. Please enlighten me”

    On 9 October 1989, as demonstrators gathered in Leipzig, Honecker welcomed Chinese deputy premier Yao Yilin to Berlin and lauded the crushing of protest in Beijing. During that year Honecker sent envoys every month to China and in public had nothing but praise for the way that China had suppressed the ‘counterrevolutionaries’…


  29. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Admin:
    I agree that the basic facts are not in dispute. It is the suggestion of causality that is ie. a and b might both be true, but that alone doesn’t prove that a caused b.

  30. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Charles #25:
    if “…seemed so eager to get the word out on the street, it…” is what’s bothering you, one could omit that from # 4 and the point would be the same.

    I’m happy some people find it compelling. Such is their prerogative.

  31. Bob Says:

    @ S.K.Cheung -To Bob:
    Nazis? Are you for real? You are now quoting Xinhua verbatim from Charles’ link in #11. And BTW, that’s not a good thing.

    Swing and miss, dude. I don’t read news off Xinhua. But really it’s nothing outrageous if one reaches the same conclusion as Xinhua. I for one am glad Xinhua has the guts to speak the truth that Germany under Angela Merkel is setting her foot on the dangerous old path.

  32. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Bob:
    ok, so you and Xinhua have reached your conclusions independently. Congrats on that one. So how exactly is Merkel’s Germany moving down the path of persecuting Chinese people as the Nazis did to the Jews? I am sure Xinhua speaks regularly; but the veracity of the contents are perhaps debatable. I don’t know about your reasoning, but I’m guessing the Xinhua logic goes something like this: Merkel doesn’t like CCP; therefore CCP doesn’t like Merkel; hence Xinhua wants to make Merkel look bad. Now, what’s a quick and easy way to smear a German….think think think…oh, I might have something….

  33. Charles Liu Says:

    SK, Roland’s blog demonstrates the causality. Here’s what DW said, per Roland:


    “during a certain discussion program, she said some things that were inconsistent with the guiding principles of Deutsche Welle… Deutsche Welle is obliged to conduct an investigation of the matter. Per standard practice, the principal cannot participate in any public activities”

    There’s your casuality.

  34. wuming Says:


    I consider myself enlightened on Honecker-CCP connection. Thanks

  35. admin Says:


    Again, I agree that there is no definite proof on causality, but wouldn’t you think the odds are pretty high that “a” caused “b” in this case?

    And just for fun, it hasn’t been scientifically proven that parachute use is helpful. Parachute use to prevent death and major trauma related to gravitational challenge: systematic review of randomized controlled trials. 😉

  36. Jerry Says:

    @Bob, @S.K. Cheung, @Charles Liu, @FOARP

    #6, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24

    Some general comments first before I get into the matter at hand

    Zhang is entitled to her opinion. Why did DW fire her? Was it for cause or whim? I will support them if they can show it was for cause, but I do not support firing somebody at will or whim. I just don’t know the facts.

    If Zhang is a good journalist, I hope she gets hired by another outlet.

    I am in favor of a diverse, robust decentralized media. No one media outlet has the obligation to hire a diversity of opinions. Journalist should practice journalism, not punditry.

    Posted out at Carter site (this appears to be a posting from the People’s daily, not the Carter Center), ‘…Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Thursday that he knew (pretty well) of Zhang’s previous reports. “The media should adhere to the principle of objectivity and justice when covering news,” the spokesman underscored.’ I disagree. There is no such thing as the objectivity; it is an ideological abstraction. What is justice? In whose eyes? I believe that somebody should investigate and report as well as possible. Qin’s comments are meaningless to me.

    Causal is not causative. Causality is part of establishing causativeness. Associative is the best you can assign to an event when there is no causality. Zhang’s remarks and her firing, until more facts are uncovered, are associative, not causal. At least IMHO.

    Neo-nazism exists in Germany, France, and the US. It is a fact of life. Andreas Strassmeier, a German, was one of the chief activists at Elohim City in Oklahoma. He is connected with Timothy McVeigh and the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building. Strassmeier’s father, Gunther, was Helmut Kohl’s Chief of Staff. IIRC, his brother was one of the top legislators in the Bundestag.

    The Germans, in general, have a very high sensitivity to and utter distaste for Nazism. The Nazi era has left a huge scar on the soul of Germany. The murder of the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics was taken as a personal tragedy by many Germans. The German pendulum swung wildly from Nazi times to post Nazi times. IMHO, they were much too liberal and let the pendulum swing too far in the opposite direction. That scar on their soul caused them to be hyper-sensitive.

    The hyper-sensitivity is one of the factors which led to today’s current immigration problems. Hence the new immigration laws. Throw in a deteriorating economy, their post-WW II angst, and their fear of a return to Nazism/nationalism, you have one confusing brew in Germany.

    Now to the matter at hand

    Bob (#12), as a Jew, I will be the first to throw up anti-semitism and Nazism where I see it. I can quote book and verse (figuratively speaking here) about the Jewish people’s suffering, persecution and near annihilation over many centuries, my family being from Russia. Thank God my grandfather immigrated to the US over 100 years ago.

    Bob, I think you should think long and hard before you suggest that Merkel is using the Chinese as a bogeyman. Perhaps you are creating a German bogeyman here. Innuendo will not serve us well.

    FOARP, I agree with your comments in #14. But I still keep on reading.

    SK, I could not have said it better myself in #15. I just never expect neutrality. I don’t even know what that is (#13). I agree with wanting a diversity of opinion and maybe some facts would be nice. Or at least quotes from DW and Zhang.

    Yes, SK, #16, there are those on the blog who wish to excoriate Western media at the drop of a hat. Does Western media include Commondreams.org, Amy Goodman, Bill Moyers, zmag.org, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Studs Terkel, etc.? I hope not. I myself am not thrilled with mainstream Western media because, more often than I like, it lacks good journalistic practices. But, the Western media as a bogeyman? Please, give me a break. So the Chicago Tribune lied when they reported the fake, counterfeit heparin (and the ensuing deaths, near deaths, illnesses, and suffering) which was manufactured in China (da lu) and distributed by Baxter in the US? I don’t think so.

    Charles, as I pointed out above, the link in #11 was only a posting from the People’s Daily. I believe that SK made that point as well. It was not reporting by the Carter Center.

    Admin, thanks in #18 for the use of the word, “allegedly”. Very refreshing.

    Charles, thanks for your post in #6. That is the kind of diversity of insight that I like. Regarding, Topix, I don’t take it very seriously and usually don’t go out there. Too many screeds way too often. Topix comments often border on the ludicrous and ignorant. So I don’t waste my time. Sorry if I missed something valuable. I do have my prejudices. But your use of zonaeuropa.com looks good. I was not aware of it.

    BTW, Topix is not in the same league as Fool’s Mountain. Nowhere close. At least IMHO.

    In general, Charles, thanks for posting this. SK, thanks for your critiques. Admin and FOARP, you made some good points.

    I still love this blog. Lively and meaningful. Well, at least most of the topics. I saw the elections post and ran away very quickly after scanning the comments. Great post by Allen followed by some screeds. I liked some of the comments. I just don’t play when, for my taste, there are too many screeds. Too mindless and meaningless.

  37. Charles Liu Says:

    Jerry, thank you for the thoughtful comment.

    – For Quotes on DW please see comment #33.

    – I also recognize Carter Foundation didn’t originate the reporting, which is why I said “reprint” in comment 17.

    – I have never used Topix so I don’t have strong feelings one way or the other; I linked to the Topix blogpost based on its own merit.
    (BTW not suggesting you are an anti-Topixite, just making a Sienfield joke 🙂

  38. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Charles:
    I don’t know Roland from a hole in the ground, but I’ll take him at his word from #33.

    Given that, then Germany’s Voice does have some explaining to do. I’d like to know exactly which guiding principles Zhang contravened. Hopefully the principle is not that an employee cannot compliment a nation that DW doesn’t approve of. I’d also like to know the outcome of the investigation, and whether Zhang was either reinstated or outright fired. And if it’s the latter, then I’d like to know the cause for dismissal.

  39. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Admin:
    if you’re going to invoke the concept of scientific proof, then the contents of this discussion have even farther to go to meet that burden.
    In science, you deal with odds and probabilities. But when you’re dealing with a dispute between 2 parties, I think time would be better spent getting the goods from those parties rather than worrying about log ranks and two-tailed t tests.

  40. Jerry Says:

    @Charles Liu, @S.K. Cheung
    #4, 25, 30, 37

    Charles, thanks for your comments in #37. I saw Roland’s piece after you posted it in #27.

    A few comments on the “eagerness issue”. I too suffer from the “rush to publish” and desire to scoop the news. As I get older, I have learned to discipline myself, to write out my comments in Word, to save the comments and to begin reflecting. I often re-read various parts of the blog. I edit and re-edit my words. I often investigate further. I come up with additional things to say. I remove certain comments. Time is a good thing.

    Regarding “backgrounder” links, I would be most careful. Words like “backgrounder” and “fact checking” are loaded terms (I am not saying that you used the term “fact checking”). May I suggest that you let us know a few links you may have found and then invite others to contribute additional links, information, knowledge and wisdom as they will. I know that inviting others is an implicit understanding in this blog. I just find that being explicit sometimes helps, especially since there are several/many cultures represented here. (I have no idea how many cultures are represented here, so I use the term “several/many”.)

    I went out to the NHRZ Google-translated webpage. The Google German-English translation is pretty clunky. Several quotes from Zhang.

    “My criticism is that only about negative things reported. On progress is not watching. With such a huge country like China with this complex development, I wish more thorough background reports.” I agree with this remark. I would ask for more balanced reporting. But she did not use the old journalistic trick/tool of the trade. Interview people and find a credible person whose viewpoint coincides with yours. Report those remarks. You get your point across without becoming a pundit. You get to remain a journalist.

    ‘Another Zhang quote: “I have until 1988 and even lived in China, then it was really bad. That was one reason why I have my country back. Compared to then enjoy the majority of Chinese today is much more freedoms. But if you here in the newspapers look, you think that China is a very bad, bad country, the flouting human rights. …”’ Again interview somebody credible with similar opinions.

    “Well-observed, true spoken. Zhang had also felt that the Communist Party of China had “more than any political force in the world” to the “realization of Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights contributed.” The article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is short and succinct: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” Too much ideology and nationalism here, in my opinion. Too much PR flack. This will raise a ruckus in today’s Germany. Nationalism and ideology got Germany into real problems during the Third Reich. Many Jews and other undesirables were killed and imprisoned. As I said earlier, this is a scar on the German soul. So if you are an immigrant who is well positioned in the German media at DW, this kind of nationalistic chest-beating will raise the hackles of many a German. IMHO, free speech is a privilege and right. With every right or privilege, there is also responsibility to use it wisely, whatever that means. And to confuse matters even more, if I were Zhang I would be angered to hear constant attacks against my native country.

    ‘Ms Zhang, also states that the blocking of Internet sites critical of the organizations Falun Gong and Free Tibet by Beijing “justified indirectly” with the notice, in Germany could “not child pornography sites or right-wing extremism aufmachen”’. I would definitely not have used the “child pornography” comparison. The other comparison is a little bit too much of stretch for me. But it is arguable.

    Volker Bräutigam brought up some good points in the defense.

    “A case of censorship? From self-censorship? A media scandal? A political affair? We will see: The piece lubricate the DW performs with Zhang Danhong, of all things.” I don’t see this as an accusation of censorship. Brautigam raises a question. That is all.

    He does suggest a hate campaign. He suggests possible legal action by Zhang. He suggests that DW mishandled this affair. I do concur that DW seems to have mishandled this. They overreacted to political questioning. Unfortunately, public broadcasting media is under political attack both in Germany and the US.

    Brautigam is the voice of one man. I know nothing about him. As SK writes, we really know nothing about Roland either. Roland seems more credible than Topix, but who is to say?

    DW is dancing around the facts. Zhang seems to be less than forthcoming. But if litigation or investigation will be or is involved, the less they say the better. At least that is how it works in the US. Don’t want to jeopardize the case.

  41. ChinkTalk Says:

    Jerry – please read some of the pieces from Geoffrey York of the Globe and Mail _


    Is he a journalist or a pundit.

  42. Jerry Says:


    A pundit is a commentator, critic, sometimes called a “talking head”.

    Mr. York is a journalist. His blog pieces seem to be both: part pundit, part journalist. His blog shows no tendency to do deep investigative journalism. It is light reporting with some commentary. I would describe it as superficial. He writes for a Canadian paper, so he puts less hype into his writing, which is good. I have no idea about his normal reporting.

    James Reynolds of the BBC is better. Still, both he and York seem to pander to a Western view of China. Perhaps that is what they are instructed to do; who knows? I don’t mind a Western view, but I would also like to know the Chinese views, the Eastern views. I just want a bigger picture. Fortunately, this blog is giving me a chance to see some of the Chinese viewpoints. It has been interesting to say the least.

    When Zhang made her comments, she was taking on the role of pundit. She was not as low-key, understated in her remarks as Reynolds and York, but then again, they are commenting/reporting for their respective employers. I am not familiar with her journalism for DW. But, if she is a good journalist, she probably has a reputation for being so. Most journalists protect their reputations (and future in their career) by being judicious in their speech. People pay much more attention to a noted journalist’s remarks than to those of the man or woman in the street.

    A great journalist investigates and researches thoroughly the topic on which they are reporting. They try to see the biggest picture possible. They know how to listen. They are less concerned with their own ego than with getting the story accurate. And they are relentlessly asking questions. Of themselves and people involved with the story.

    Let me name, IMHO, some of the finest journalists in the world. For interviewing, I recommend Studs Terkel on WFMT Chicago and Terri Gross of “Fresh Air” on NPR (WHYY Philadelphia). For television journalism, I suggest Bill Moyers of “Bill Moyers Journal”. If you want to listen to a great radio news show, try Amy Goodman of “Democracy Now”. For work as a foreign correspondent, I consider Robert Fisk of The Independent UK as the finest around. For local reporting in Seattle, I enjoy listening to Steve Scher of KUOW Radio and his fine talk show, “Weekday”.

    For commentary on foreign policy, I would cite intellectual summa cum laude, Avram Noam Chomsky. I also would cite the late Edward Said.

    For commentary on the environment, I would turn to physicist Vandana Shiva, theoretical physicist Fritjof Capra and zoologist David Suzuki.

    Because of my exposure to great journalists, including the late Edward R. Murrow and I. F. Stone, I have high expectations of journalists.

  43. ChinkTalk Says:

    Jerry – what do you think of


  44. Jerry Says:



    Thanks for the question, CT. For some reason, it is very hard for me to use the word, “Chink”. For me, it has the same connotations as kike, yid, hebe, jewboy, pollock, wetback, gook, slant, beaner and the “N” word (this is not an inclusive list).

    CT, I read AsiaTimes occasionally. Some of the people on the YKBOO listserv use AsiaTimes as a source for news articles which they forward to all of us on the listserv. Per Fagereng, a radio host on KBOO-FM radio in Portland, Oregon, has interviewed Pepe Escobar and maybe one more correspondent who write out at Atimes.

    Atimes has some good investigative pieces which are thought-provoking. Definitely not mainstream media.

    Now, let me get Socratic with you. CT, what do you think of York and Atimes?

    BTW, for various reasons, the China Post and Taipei Times grate on my nerves. I hardly ever read them despite living here in Taipei. They are reminiscent of tabloid journalism.

    I can only take Channel NewsAsia for so long. They are too much like “Lifestyles of the Rich, the Famous and Wannabe’s in Singapore.” They actually have some good journalists, but they don’t use their journalistic talents very much. Very insipid, vapid, meaningless and irrelevant to me. I think of them as the station with the pretty girls who read the news (provided to them by stringers) and have very little clue as to what they are reading. I would not call them journalists; I would call them PR flacks. Too reminiscent of US mainstream local TV news. What a waste of time and money.

    For news here, I watch BBC World. They are far more serious and intelligent than any TV news station around, including PBS (Bill Moyers, Frontline, POV and Now being exceptions).

    One addition to outstanding interviewers. Enrique Cerna of KCTS in Seattle, Washington and his show “KCTS Connects”.

    Mazel tov. A bi gezunt.

  45. ChinkTalk Says:

    Jerry – do you know any good Chinese journalists


  46. Jerry Says:

    #45, @ChinkTalk

    “ZIE GA ZINK”. CT, LMAO or if you prefer, LMTO (tokhis or tuchus). A shaynem dank dir shmooz, CT. Nobody has spoken Yiddish to me while I have been in Taiwan (well, my dad does when we are talking on the phone). Gey gezunterheyt. L’chaim.

    No, I do not know much about the journalism scene in Taiwan or China or Vietnam. But I have become acquainted with Sharon Pian Chan of the Seattle Times newspaper. She is a journalist there and also was recently elected AAJA National President (Asian American Journalists Association) for 2009. She might know. I certainly don’t.

    CT, Zay gezunt. Mazel tov.

  47. skylight Says:

    If she is a true patriot she should go back to China to work for Chinese reform and practice journalism and free speech! At least she doesnt have to fear to be arrested for her views and beliefs like Tibetan journalists in China.


  48. Jerry Says:

    #45, @ChinkTalk

    “Jerry – do you know any good Chinese journalists?” Last night, I remembered 2 sources which might help you. You might want to try out the fellows page at UHK Journalism Centre’s China Media Project or China Digital Times, which is based at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.

    Here is an article I found by taking a link from another article. I started at http://chinadigitaltimes.net/. They email me daily updates. I noticed this article from the Guardian UK, “China’s Slow Civil Awakening” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/sep/19/china?commentpage=1). In it, the commentator, Jonathan Fenby, mentions an article by Zhang Hong (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/sep/18/china). Zhang is “… editor of Beijing’s Economic Observer online”. More of his writing is at http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/zhanghong and http://www.eeo.com.cn/ens/.

    I went out to China Media Project (http://cmp.hku.hk/). They have a fellows page out at http://cmp.hku.hk/~/fellows/. There you will find a boatload of Mainland journalists who have had fellowships at UHK Journalism Centre.

    Hope this helps, CT.

    Zay gezunt. Mazel tov.

    #47, @skylight

    “If she is a true patriot”. That is a nice bludgeon. ::smile:: I would prefer to tell Zhang to do what she wishes, just as I would tell you.

    A bi gezunt. Mazel tov.

  49. Christoph Says:

    Hi, as a German I feel I should say something on this. Anyone who seriously compares the China critical/unfriendly current within the German media with Nazism is not a serious partner for discussion. Full stop.
    Those who really read German media will notice though that there is a wide range of opinion and reports on China that is all but streamlined “anti China”. There is a widespread undercurrent though, that can surely be disputed.
    As for the market pressure of DW as mentioned before: as a publicly funded station, DW does not face direct market pressure.
    Also for the change of government theories above. Yes, Merkel is certainly not inclined to be too friendly with the Chinese leadership. I personally would hope she would be more pragmatic in this regard (although not in the Schroederesque sense of pragmatism). However, the impression that the German government can directly and timely interfere in the editorial matters of a publicly funded media is mistaken. These media have a high degree of self-governance. Check here http://www.deutsche-welle.de/dw/0,2142,3326,00.html
    I did not follow the DW Chinese service in detail, so I can’t judge on accusations of being overly pro-Chinese government there. However, the DW has a mission to be committed to a value order that the Federal Republic of Germany see itself based on. That value order – for example – would say that a political order no matter how many people it lifted out of poverty – to use the most stereotyped discursive tool here – is not legitimate when it routinely makes use of torture, extra-legal arrests, labor camps etc as the Chinese government does.
    You might want to dispute this value judgment (or dispute the factual statement. Since the Chinese government happens not to produce statistics about its extra legal arrest this is tricky). Yet, you cannot complain that you loose your job when you are in the position of a leading journalist in such a station and you make value judgments (saying “The Communist Party of China has more than any political force in the world implemented Article 3 of the Declaration of Human Rights” is certainly not solely a factual statement because there are no objective standards for such a judgment) that are widely seen to contradict this value order.
    Other accusations for DW China service that private emails were published on anti.cnn also sound quite hair raising, although they are hard to verify.

  50. wuming Says:


    “Hi, as a German I feel I should say something on this. Anyone who seriously compares the China critical/unfriendly current within the German media with Nazism is not a serious partner for discussion. Full stop.”

    I fully agree with your sentiment. I would hope you find the comparison made between 2008 Beijing Olympics and 1936 Berlin Olympics, or calling Beijing Olympics “Genocide Olympics” to be equally un-serious.

  51. FOARP Says:

    @Wuming – I don’t accept the ‘genocide olympics’ moniker, I don’t even think the 1936 games deserved that name, but I certainly think that it is quite valid to compare the Olympic games as held in Beijing with other games held in dictatorships – that includes 1980 in Moscow, and the Berlin games.

    If Chinese citizens do not like the fact that their state is a dictatorial one, then their problem is with their current government, not with those from other countries who mention this fact.

  52. jack Says:

    It is not surprising this happened in Germany. Much of the anti-China sentiment from the white world stem from the self-guilt of the left. They read China as if reading their own bloody history. One can see this plainly from some of the comments here (see Theo).

    Journalism needs to stick to facts. Modern demoncracy needs a balanced media in order to function. The interest of the West and the world is ill served by picking only the facts that confirming the journalists’ own view. In this case, we also see the cherry picking of journalists.

    Germans are still insecure, therefore, speech are still not free, not until Mein kampf can be freely distributed on the streets.

    A difference between East Berlin and Beijing is the lack of the wall. In Beijing, you can walk out of a Communist Party Office desk job and join Walmart within 20 minutes. Now show me another place you can do that.

    Where is the current headquarters of the National Socialist German Worker’s Party in Berlin? Where is your WalMart? These are indications of tolerance. You haven’t got much have you?

  53. Bill Says:

    To be honest, in the eyes of most Chinese people, the Zhang Danhong incident is an insult to freedom of speech,and it hurts the image of Germany.

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