Nov 17

Ah, that tricky Chinese propaganda machine, how devious it is to deceive the foreign media!

Written by DJ on Tuesday, November 17th, 2009 at 7:26 am
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It was practically a news story that wrote itself. Soon after president Obama made a roundabout endorsement of non-censorship, it was reported via twitter and then repeated by the China Digial Times that China pulled the coverage from news portal NetEase 27 minutes after the transcript appeared.

The Associated Press went with a title “Chinese censors block Obama’s call to free the Web“.

One prolific blogger who goes by the name of Hecaitou said that a transcript of the exchange posted on the portal Netease was taken down by censors after just 27 minutes. A full Chinese-language transcript of the event was later posted on the official Xinhua News Agency Web site but required four clicks to locate the relevant section.

The Washington Post also chimed in with “Obama backs non-censorship; Beijing, apparently, does not“.

The question, and Obama’s answer, appeared almost immediately as a top news story on the official New China News Agency, known here as Xinhua, as well on as several popular Chinese Web sites.

But about an hour later, the stories about Obama embracing Internet freedom disappeared.

The sina.com site, for example, initially ran the story under the headline: “Obama: The Internet is a tool for becoming stronger and citizens can participate.” An hour later, anyone going to that link got the message, “Cannot find the page.”

The news was also deleted from Xinhua, which initially posted a story about Obama’s answer on Internet censorship but later carried a notice that said, “Sorry! The news you are checking has been deleted or expired.”

The Reuters similarly reported it with “Obama visit arouses mistrust in China’s Internet populace“.

Last but not the least, BBC wasn’t far behind with “Obama’s message censored in China“. [UPDATE] Raj argued in the comment section that this BBC article didn’t contain the same level of empirical inexactitude as the other three reports. He is right, and I just crossed out this one. Actually, I added this BBC link a very short while after I already published this post. I was doing a last scan of the Google News and thought, “Gee, the BBC is also doing this!” So I confess that in my haste, I committed precisely the same sin that I didn’t accuse those reporters for the other three media outlets of making.

As noted at the beginning of this post, it sounded like a perfect China news story, or was it too perfect? Roland Soong at ESWN posted a copy of Xinhua’s transcript found at NetEase and simply commented “You can click on it to see if these remarks are still available now”. Well, I decided to take up the challenge.

NetEase frontpage

The above image is a cropped screen capture of the NetEase front page. The text marked by the red rectangle links to a transcript of Obama’s interaction with the Chinese students in Shanghai, complete and uncensored.

Xinhuanet frontpage

This one is the special report page on Obama’s visit from Xinhua and the marked link goes to a complete and uncensored transcript of his Q&A session.

As for People’s Daily, I couldn’t find a direct link to the transcript on its special coverage page after a casual scan. The reason, I suppose, is because the editors thought Obama’s discourse on information freedom was an IT related topic. So an article entirely devoted to that question of Internet usage and Obama’s complete answer is placed on the site’s IT Channel front page, as shown below.

People.com IT frontpage

I won’t bore you further with links to a large number of Chinese media sites, national or local, that prominently carry coverage of Obama’s interactive session. So, what gives?

Hmm, I could list some possible answers.

  • A. The reporters, when it comes to reporting on China, feel no need to verify their  single source of hearsay.
  • B. One reporter rushed out a report without doing homework and others copied it.
  • C. The reporters do not know Chinese and their favorite sinologists were too busy to read anything for them.
  • D. The reporters do not know Chinese and their Chinese interns are all spies sent over by the CCP.
  • E. The Chinese propaganda machine set up these reporters by faking a censorship stunt and then flooding the net with candid reports.
  • F. The Chinese propaganda machine is extremely efficient and responded to the unfavorable news coverage aboard immediately and effectively.
  • G. All Chinese websites serve two sets of pages, depending on whether the queries come from within or without.

Obviously, the correct answer must have been one of more choices among C, D, E, F and G. As we all know, any other suggestion is simply inconceivable.

There are currently 2 comments highlighted: 53661, 53932.

83 Responses to “Ah, that tricky Chinese propaganda machine, how devious it is to deceive the foreign media!”

  1. jdmartinsen Says:

    Judging from the comments about the particular exchange in question as reproduced on various online portals, I’d go with H: non-state media were quick with the delete button in anticipation of censorship that never came, and recovered afterward once the official outlets kept the transcript intact. See Lian Yue’s comment about Phoenix (有意思,《奥巴马回答网友提问防火墙和TWITTER》在环球网还屹立不倒,凤凰网倒是删掉了。这就是娘娘不急太监急啊。) which follows a remark that Netease had removed the Twitter-related text.

    This of course does not absolve the reporters, because the deletions/404s wouldn’t have lasted all that long.

  2. Wukailong Says:

    “The reporters, when it comes to reporting on China, feel no need to verify their single source of hearsay.”

    Here’s my theory:

    Reporters in general feel no need to verify their single source of hearsay.

    Of course, I’m never going to convince anyone that this is true, but whenever I know a subject in depth, the media is almost always wrong.

  3. Raj Says:


    I actually had a look at the BBC article. Nowhere can I see a comment that Obama’s comments were pulled off every website. Instead it says things such as:

    But in news reports about the session, Chinese media outlets largely ignored the criticism and played up the positive comments.

    You can “largely ignore” something by not giving it significant attention. Does the article say that the news was wiped clean from the Chinese internet?

    In an article about the event, China’s state-run news agency, Xinhua, said Mr Obama was “upbeat” about Sino-US ties. The report noted that the US president’s talk to students on Monday covered a wide range of topics, including cultural exchanges and climate change. But it did not say that Mr Obama had urged China’s leaders to welcome the free flow of information – particularly on the internet.

    A similar upbeat note was struck by the state-run China Daily. “There’s room for both of us,” it quoted Mr Obama as saying in a front-page headline.Television news bulletin were sometimes even more circumspect with their reporting of Mr Obama’s first full day in China.

    The main national television news show on Monday evening hardly mentioned the visit by Mr Obama to China. It was the seventh item on the 1900 programme – coming after a long report on the funeral of a former vice-premier who has long since slipped from memory, and an item on a Chinese writing museum. The short report on Mr Obama was not broadcast until 20 minutes into the bulletin and lasted just a minute. It did not show the US president meeting with Chinese students in Shanghai.

    Then there’s this.

    But some media outlets did go further than others – the Beijing News was one. It reported Mr Obama’s comments on the benefits of allowing people to communicate freely using the internet. Free access to the internet “allows people from across the world to ensure their own governments are responsible” it told its readers.

    Internet chat rooms had even more leeway to comment on Mr Obama’s question-and-answer session with the handpicked students.

    Maybe I have misunderstood the criticism, but if I haven’t could it be a case of:

    I – Chinese netizens desperate to find reasons to criticise the free media jump on Roland Soong’s comments without bothering to read the articles.

    I haven’t analysed all of the articles you listed. If I did so would I find the same thing, or was it just the BBC that actually got it right?

  4. BMY Says:

    I don’t have access to CCTV and People’s Daily so I can’t confirm what BBC reported was true. Even it was true, I see there is no difference between BBC and others “largely ignored the positive comments and played up the criticism ” while some Chinese news outlets “largely ignored the criticism and played up the positive comments.”

    After I read the BBC article and I got a impression that the news of President Obama’s visit were no top enough as BBC complains “…news show on Monday evening hardly mentioned the visit by Mr Obama to China.It was the seventh item on the 1900 program…” Maybe it was true.

    I am looking at the major Chinese portal sites right now: 163,sina, people.com.cn,sohu,xinhuanet . President Obama is on the very top first news on everyone’s the front page. Does BBC “largely ignore ” these Chinese media outlets?

    When Chinese media actually focus on the real news: Obama’s visit while many other media just focus on the old news:censorship

    Chinese propaganda machine beat free world propaganda machine on this round, at least to me.

  5. Raj Says:


    Even it was true, I see there is no difference between BBC and others “largely ignored the positive comments and played up the criticism ”

    That’s not the point DJ is making, he’s accusing the foreign media of lying in saying that Obama’s comments on censorship were downplayed/cut, or not doing their homework properly.

    I am looking at the major Chinese portal sites right now: 163,sina, people.com.cn,sohu,xinhuanet . President Obama is on the very top first news on everyone’s the front page. Does BBC “largely ignore ” these Chinese media outlets?

    Again, where does the BBC say that the Chinese media ignored Obama’s visit? It says that a specific news programme put the visit down the list of news items reported. It also says that Obama’s criticism was largely ignored. You can report on his visit whilst giving little coverage to certain things he said – that’s not rocket science.

    Moreover, what is said on the TV and the newspapers is arguably more important than what goes on the internet. If you watch the news, you usually watch the whole thing – you don’t pre-select which stories you want to see first. So if the Obama visit and/or his criticisms are downplayed, that effects what people see. Similarly with newspapers if you buy one then you usually read every headline, even if you may not read every single piece of text.

    With the internet, the consumer has to be proactive in looking at stories. Moreover it’s free (usually) so there’s no incentive to read everything. Plus far fewer Chinese people have access to the internet than own a TV and/or buy newspapers. Therefore even if Obama’s comments were accessible on the internet they would have reached far, far fewer people than had they been widely reported on TV and in the print media.

    Finally, the BBC article does give credit to the Beijing News.

  6. Raj Says:


    DJ was not making a criticism of the foreign media in saying it was too negative, it was that it was lying about “censorship” of Obama’s comments/not doing its homework. Similarly the foreign media wasn’t saying “oh look at the Chinese media, always being so positive”, more that negative comments had deliberately been pulled/cut/etc.

    President Obama is on the very top first news on everyone’s the front page. Does BBC “largely ignore ” these Chinese media outlets?

    Again, you’re ignoring (twisting?) what the BBC said. It did not allege that his visit was not being reported by anyone. It said that a specific main news broadcast put the visit down the list of news items. It also said that Obama’s critical comments were largely ignored by other media outlets – it did not say they barely reported his visit at all. You can report a visit by someone whilst highlighting certain things they said and ignore/downplay others.

    Furthermore, far more Chinese people watch TV and buy newspapers than use the internet. If Obama’s critical comments were downplayed/cut from those media sources, it would affect far more people’s view of the visit. This is especially true because you can’t select what you watch on TV, unless you turn it off/change the channel. As that means you’d miss other news, people are morely likely to take note of all that is said. Similarly if you buy a newspaper you’re going to read almost all the headlines at the least, if not the articles, as it would be a waste of your purchase if you didn’t.

    Whereas with the internet, most news is free and you can pick and choose to your hearts’ content. Plus you have to proactively seek out news stories, even if they’re easily accessible. So arguably if there was “censorship” of some of Obama’s comments on the TV and in the print media that’s far more influential than the availability of comments on the internet.

    When Chinese media actually focus on the real news: Obama’s visit while many other media just focus on the old news:censorship

    The top article on the BBC’s Asia-Pacific page is titled “China and US ‘to work together'”. How is that focusing on censorship?

    What I think you mean is that the foreign media are reporting on all the news, whilst the Chinese media is focusing on the old news – China is great and everyone loves it.

  7. Berlin Says:

    I agree with Martinsen that there is much self-censorship at work on this one. I have quite a number of my articles deleted from douban.com as the web site wants not to “harm our operations”, even if the same article appears in “official media” such as 侨报。

  8. Berlin Says:

    I am a big supporter of non-self-censorship.

  9. Charles Liu Says:

    BMY, you can see for yourself how much Obama coverage was on CCTV, and what kind of coverage there was, by searching CCTV news clip archive

    A link from above CCTV site search claims Obama answered 8 student questions (5 audience, 3 web) and all 8 were listed:


  10. linho Says:

    U.S. Ambassador to China: “China Expert” is an Oxymoron

    “Don’t mistake me for being an expert, because I’ve been here for three months,” Huntsman said. “And I’ve come to the conclusion that ‘China expert’ is kind of an oxymoron. And those who consider themselves to be China experts are kind of morons. So you take what you can, you learn what you can, and you begin to pull all the pieces together, and still it kind of remains sometimes a somewhat confused environment.”


  11. Charles Liu Says:

    To follow up on comment 9, here’s another link found on CCTV, Obama speech:


    I looked for few key terms (democracy, rights, equality, freedom), and they are correctly translated. Feel free to tear apart CCTV’s translation, by all means.

  12. Steve Says:

    @ linho #10: Great comment!

  13. pug_ster Says:

    I thought it was funny that MSNBC went to a internet cafe while Obama during his town hall meeting and expecting the ‘netizens’ there would be watching this meeting live, instead claiming that they are ‘censored’ but they are playing online games and watching movies instead.


    I have a question: What people do in front of a computer in the internet cafe?

  14. dewang Says:

    Since we are comparing Chinese media and the “Western” media, I thought I compare two “gold” standards. So I decided to take a look at how NPR and Xinhua covered the Hu-Obama meeting:



    If you are to take notes on each articles, the list of items are actually about the same:

    Importance of cooperative relationship between China and U.S.
    Need for continued dialog
    Human rights
    Climate change
    Military tensions
    One-China policy vs. support for Dalai Lama / Taiwan
    North Korea

    Obviously NPR speaks from the U.S. interest. Obviously Xinhua speaks from the Chinese interest.

    Is NPR completely objective? No. It does not give equal weight to the Chinese interests.

    Is Xinhua completely objective? No. It does not give equal weight to the U.S. interests.

    The moral of the story? At least there’s “common ground” on listing the issues. I think that’s good.

    But as DJ’s article points out, garbage like the Associated Press or Washington Post certainly do not help. These are examples of the pathetic state of some “free” media in the “West”.

    I just hope better media in the “West” like the NPR gets a bigger audience.

  15. perspectivehere Says:

    Dewang #14 makes an excellent point. NPR is National Public Radio. It differs from the other media outlets in that it is non-profit and in part funded by the government-created Corporation for Public Broadcasting as well as contributions from corporations and foundations. The other media outlets – AP, Reuters, WaPo etc. are owned by profit-oriented corporations whose main objective is shareholder value but whose reputations and credibility depend on creating an impression among their audiences that they serve the public interest. This could mean that for issues affecting the economic interests of their owners, these media outlets will offer biased views favoring their own economic interests.

    This is a dynamic even seen in “the West”: for example in this essay:

    Can PBS and NPR Save the Democracy?
    By Al Tompkins

    “In the future, can we trust our news organizations to cover the issue of corporate mergers, duopolies, and media cross-ownership honestly and critically? Based on the coverage leading up to the FCC’s decision, I doubt it.

    Thank God for public radio and public TV. In the future, they may be our best hope for reliable watchdogging of media issues. They will be the only voices that do not have a financial stake in the stories.”

    Thanks to RAJ for pointing out BBC’s reporting on this. BBC is also quasi-government owned/funded (I think) and this may also give it less of a profit-making drive that affects is news-reporting agenda.

    So here’s the argument: The media industry in China is highly regulated. Foreign profit-making media organizations would very much like to expand into Chinese media markets without restrictions. Having to deal with restrictions and regulations increases the costs of operations in terms of management resources and outlays for compliance, while reducing revenue making opportunities, resulting in a lower rate of return on investment. It is very much in the economic interest of the media corporations owning AP, Reuters and Washington Post (and NYT, CNN, etc) to bang on and on about censorship and media restrictions because they would stand to benefit most from the economic opportunities that deregulation would bring.

    “Cui bono?” (who benefits?) is often a good starting point for understanding which direction media bias favors. Follow the money. He who pays the piper calls the tune. It does not entirely define the outcome (things are never that simple) but it needs to be raised as a key factor.

  16. perspectivehere Says:

    The essay I linked in #15 above is worthwhile to quote at length. The thundering silence by the U.S. mainstream media outlets owned by the largest conglomerates on proposed changes in the U.S. FCC (Federal Communications Commission) rules on cross-ownership of media can be seen as a good example of the “self-censorship” (called “self-serving blackout on the debate” in the quote below) by these media outlets:

    “In the weeks before the FCC’s decision, PBS and NPR were the only two broadcast outlets that seriously covered the issue of ownership caps and cross-ownership.

    NPR broadcast a series of stories spread over a week, including an in-depth interview with the FCC chairman. WNYC’s On the Media has been mentioning the story for a couple of years.

    PBS’ “NewsHour” has covered this topic in depth for more than two years. In addition, PBS’ Bill Moyers has pounded on the issue of media ownership for more than a year. Moyers rang the bell about how corporate media were ignoring the story even when the FCC announced it would consider changing ownership rules last October. He reported on the program NOW:

    ‘In 1975, there were some 1,500 owners of full-power TV stations and daily newspapers. By 2000, that number had dropped to about 625.

    And remember the Telecommunications Act of 1996? It led to a wave of mergers. There are now 1,700 fewer owners of commercial radio stations — a one-third decline. Today, just a few players dominate. One conglomerate alone — Clear Channel — owns more than 1,200 stations and controls 11 percent of the market. And by the way — that legislation was also supposed to lower the rates you pay for your cable service. Instead, costs have increased almost 30 percent. Why? Because the big giveaway of ’96 did not increase competition — it increased monopoly. The nation’s seven largest cable operators control more than 75 percent of the market.

    Yes, it’s true: the typical cable consumer today receives about 60 channels. But those so-called “choices” are determined by a handful of corporate giants … companies like Viacom, AOL-Time Warner, Disney, and News Corp.

    But do we hear about all this from the mainstream media? Hardly.

    Of the major broadcasters, only ABC reported the FCC’s recent decision to review media ownership rules … and that report was at 4:40 in the morning. While the big newspapers did somewhat better, only the Los Angeles Times mentioned that its corporate owner, the Tribune Company, was actively lobbying for deregulation.

    (Interview with Gene Kimmelman, Consumer Union): Those broadcasters and newspapers are whom we rely upon to tell that story and allow the American people to have that public debate. And they don’t want to have that debate. They want a deregulatory-minded administration just to get out of their way, eliminate ownership limitations, let them join together. And the American people unfortunately may find out about this on the back end after it’s all happened.’

    The network coverage did not improve as a final vote grew nearer. Reuters reported, “With a critical vote on media ownership rules by the Federal Communications Commission expected in the coming week, on May 15 (2003) ABC News’ report is the only prime-time network coverage of any kind devoted to the rule changes, according to a news tracking service, and some charge the nation’s broadcasters have employed a self-serving blackout on the debate.”


  17. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Wow, WP, AP, and Reuters definitely messed up on this one. All the links are still up, a day later.

    On the other hand, were those reporters unabashedly making stuff up? They reported specific instances at specific times where the links that were initially available became disabled.

    So maybe jdmartinsen’s choice H in #1 is where it’s at. If the links were posted, then pulled, then reposted again, who knows what the reasons may have been. But if I were one of those reporters filing a story with such claims, as jdmartinsen says, I would’ve hit refresh one more time right before filing it, just to make sure that the story is still good at the time it was being released.

    It’s encouraging that the US president’s call for internet freedom is not being muffled by China. It’d be even more encouraging if such a message was being allowed to stand within China. Are there any PRC users who can check if those links to Obama’s transcript are available within China?

  18. DJ Says:

    Frankly, I was baffled by the stark discrepancies I found in this case and still wonder exactly what transpired. I first checked into this matter right after the time when the AP article came out. At that moment, I easily found complete and accurate reports and transcripts of Obama’s words prominently presented all over Chinese media sites. I actually felt that I landed a blog post article that wrote itself.

  19. Charles Liu Says:

    DJ, I think it’s pretty much the same old “Echo Chamber” at work here. Mainstream media has in the past picked up stuff from “China experts” like China Digital Times which I found to be very questionable.

  20. Uln Says:

    Clearly the Western press agencies messed up once more, showing once more that the system is far from perfect and that the World is stupid for relying so heavily on them.

    All the more urgent to have a Chinese media INDEPENDENT from the state, which would be able to earn credibility worldwide and counterbalance the weight of the Western Agencies, not only in Chinese affairs, but in the World of media at large.

    The OP had a good point, and he could have drawn useful concludions, except that he is too tempted to see all in a China vs.anti-China perspective. DJ, those journalists didn’t make that mistake mainly because they are Anti-China, but because they are confused by the erratic CCP’s attitude on media and internet.

    All the criticism of Western Media (which is fair and useful) should not distract us from the essential problem here, which is this: Chinese media are directly and completely controlled by the CCP, to serve the interests of the CCP.

  21. BMY Says:

    @Raj #6,

    I can’t really argue what has been reported on the Chinese paper and TV as I don’t access them. The only Chinese paper I read is Epoch Times and the only TV program I watch is Two and a Half Men.

    I only can access those websites which were accused of cutting off Obama’s comments of internet censorship and I found out it was not true as everyone else found out. Then I clearly stated I believed Chinese media has done a better job than some others on this particular case of a visit. Your comment as “What I think you mean is …….. – China is great and everyone loves it.” is bit of over stretched of what I said.

    However, I do acknowledge there is censorship on Chinese media. But on this particular case DJ posted, i don’t see it. I am very glad I can see there is progress towards more media freedom here.

  22. BMY Says:


    Thanks for the CCTV link. Unfortunately I don’t have a fast broadband at home and can’t really watch it.

  23. Stinky Says:

    The irony of this post is simply too rich. I’m using a VPN to leap the GFW so that I can access your site to read a post about how the Western media has got its story about Chinese censorship all wrong. Fantastic stuff. Way to go Fool’s Mountain. Wouldn’t want you to rethink your priorities. Blogging for China, indeed.

  24. Wukailong Says:

    @BMY: “The only Chinese paper I read is Epoch Times”

    You’re kidding, right? 😉

  25. Uln Says:

    @23 Stinky – You are right about the irony, good observation. However, it looks like you are taking this post as the official position of Fools Mountain, and I don’t think this is true. This blog accepts the posts of many writers with very different points of view, for the sake of debate about China. Someone correct me if I’m wrong.

  26. Raj Says:

    Uln is correct. Whilst it would be nice to have more “joined up thinking” in regards to posts, we can’t (and shouldn’t) manage what other people contribute, apart from exceptional circumstances – that’s the price of having a range of views here.

  27. dewang Says:

    Fools Mountain is an experiment in progress. I’ve linked to this Buxi article numerous times and its also part of our Featured Posts:


    The concluding paragraph, and I quote here:

    Both vacuums and pure oxygen environments don’t support life. Now that we’ve opened the window, flies, mosquitoes, and bacteria can all enter. For the undesirable insects, we can exterminate them; if they keep coming, we’ll keep exterminating them. Once we’ve gotten some fresh air, our immune system will improve, and our view of the world will have been broadened. We will be able to prescribe the right medication for the right bacteria; the methods we use to react will become a better match.

    While that message was intended for the “pro-China” camp, I think it is also wise for the West to heed to as well.

    As perspectivehere, #15 stated, there is a fundamental flaw with “free” and capitalistic media.

  28. BMY Says:

    @WKL #24

    No kidding. All local Chinese paper just copy/past articles from Chinese (mainland,HK and Taiwan) internet and local English paper. They are not worth the money nor the time of driving to newsagency. “Epoch Times” got hand in when I walk in the street or get off the train. It saves my money and time and it is entertaining.

  29. justkeeper Says:

    @NMY: You must have never read the “Southern Weekend”.

  30. BoBaaTi Says:

    Some people have mentioned PBS as a good news source; I wonder how most mainland Chinese would perceive Jim Lehrer’s interview with Xiao Qiang (China Digital Times) and Winston Lord (former US Ambassador to China). It can be read/watched online at http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/asia/july-dec09/humanrights_11-17.html.

    Media in the West definitely have their problems. But the beauty is that people in the West aren’t constrained to one media or one viewpoint. Westerners can easily log on and get a diverse range of views, from CNN to Huffington Post to Fox to Al-Jazeera to BBC to Channel News Asia to China Daily to Fool’s Mountain etc. Whether they do or not is irrelevant – for those who want free information, it is easily accessible. In China, this is not the case (a point Stinky made ironically clear). Yes, Western media need to be held accountable – but so does all media. And it seems the most important place to start for the Chinese is right at home. After all, it seems to me that they don’t suffer much when Westerners have ignorant opinions, but they do suffer from a lack of free information and accountability.

    I am happy that the CCP put the transcript online, but disappointed with the hand-picked questioners and refusal to air the meeting nationwide.

  31. pug_ster Says:

    I just find the Western Media obsessed about the Chinese government. You have never heard this kind of obsession towards other friendly nations like Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Japan, India, or the UK. Where’s the ‘fair and balanced’ reporting into that?

  32. tanjin Says:

    A good discussion on the dramatically different situation between US-China by BBC and CBS news anchors.

    You can expect to hear some well-know facts from these two renown news anchors

    1. things couldn’t be worse, pessimism raising.
    2. managing decay
    3. seeking personal enjoyment with instant gratification
    4. a strong sense of entitlement on everything, including freedom and democracy, “easy-spoiled attitude”
    4. 37% people in poll see the country in the right direction

    1. things keep getting better and better, optimism raising
    2. manage expansion
    3. labor hard with patience, willing to sacrifice for next generation
    3. 300 million middle-class people, 1 billion more are up coming, already one third billionaires as many as US
    4. 87% people in poll see the country on the right direction
    5. “Could China crash down in someday” — not see on the horizon

    “The future of US-China relations”

  33. Charles Liu Says:

    Uln, “Chinese media are directly and completely controlled by the CCP”

    It appears your “directly”, “completely” claims are made without considering the effects of China’s expanding private media sector. Here’s what Professor Rowen @ Stanford said about composition of China’s media in his report “The Growth of Freedoms in China”:


    “China had 2,053 newspapers and 7,999 magazines by the end of 1998, with a total circulation of 30 billion and 2.5 billion respectively. The number of newspapers represents a tenfold increase from the two hundred China-based newspapers that existed fewer than twenty years ago. At the top of China’s newspaper empire are the several major mouthpieces of the Party, including the People’s Daily and the Guangming Daily, whose influence has been declining due to competition from the less Party-controlled and more reader-friendly local newspaper”

    Feel free to find newer data to validate which direction China is trending, but consider this – Forbes pick of 7th most powerful people in China is Hu Shuli, an independet journalist known for challenging the government and business interest:


  34. tanjin Says:

    BBC video: President Obama uses smiles and personal charms to “breach China’s historical defense”


  35. rolf Says:

    Western media. How they work! Note the headings

    While President Barack Obama gave a speech and answered a number of questions, the question/answer that is drawing the most attention in the western media is that one about Internet censorship. Here are the western media report headings on that issue (17/11):

    Obama to China: Uncensored society is healthy Charles Hutzler, Associated Press

    Obama in China criticises internet censorship Jane Macartney, Times Online

    Unrestricted Internet Access Makes the U.S. Stronger, Free Speech Makes Him a Better Leader Jake Tapper/ Yunji de Nies/ Stephanie Smith/ Sunlen Miller/ Karen Travers/ Jon Garcia/ Ann Compton, ABC News.

    Obama gently chides China on cyber censorship Aileen McCabe, Vancouver Sun

    Obama chides China on human rights Peter Nicholas, Los Angeles Times

    Barack Obama criticises internet censorship at meeting in China Tania Branigan, The Guardian

    Obama Tells Chinese Students Information Should Be Free Sumner Lemon, PC World

    In China, Obama says sites like Twitter should be open New Strait Times

    Obama Pushes for Freedoms in China Jonathan Weisman, James T. Areddy. Wall Street Journal.

    Obama on Freedoms,Twitter in China CBS News

    Obama Talks Human Rights in China Fox News

    Obama Pushes Rights With Chinese Students David Barboza and Mark McDonald, New York Times

    Obama talks Twitter; urges openness at Shanghai town hall Chuck Todd, MSNBC.com

    Obama discusses censorship during Shanghai town hall Margaret Talev and Athena Zhao, Miami Herald

    Barack Obama criticises censorship in meeting with Chinese students Malcolm Moore, Shanghai

    Obama Pushes Rights With Chinese Students Huw Borland, Sky News

    Obama, In China, Promises An Open Internet J. Nicholas Hoover, InformationWeek

  36. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Stinky,
    since you’re in China, can you access some of the aforementioned transcripts without eluding the GFW? After all, I presume that Obama’s motivation for speaking out about internet censorship wasn’t so that folks sitting in the comfort of their American homes can access translated transcripts off of Chinese websites, but that folks within China can have access to same.

  37. Charles Liu Says:

    BMY @ 22, “CCTV link. Unfortunately I don’t have a fast broadband at home and can’t really watch it”

    Actually, the CCTV link provided in comment 11 has Obama speech transcript in Chinese (for domestic consumption) as well as link to the video.

    For those who are interested, Obama speech transcript seem readily availble inside China, for example the ample links found on China’s most popular search engine, baidu.cn:


    I would be hard pressed to believe Baidu makes two sets to search results, even for the .cn comain, without seeing some credible academic/research proof to back up such claim.

  38. dewang Says:

    Looks like the Chinese paper, “Southern Weekly” scored an exclusive one-on-one interview with Obama as he was about to leave China for South Korea.

    Malcolm Moore – the UK based Telegraph correspondent in Shanghai has an article:

    “Barack Obama’s exclusive interview with the Chinese media”

    The part that is directly related to DJ’s post here is what Moore claimed:

    Since just about everything that Mr Obama said while he was in China was censored out of the domestic media, the print readership of this interview represents the widest audience of ordinary Chinese that the president is likely to reach.

    Sheesh! Propaganda “freely” spreads in “free” media, and if not for Fools Mountain, who might have known?!

  39. S.K. Cheung Says:

    “Propaganda “freely” spreads in “free” media, and if not for Fools Mountain, who might have known?!” — this is what I was referring to in #36. All we know so far is what you can access, sittin’ on a dock by the Bay. The more important question is what people can access sitting in China. And in that respect, Mr. Moore has a leg up on all the usual suspects around here.

  40. dewang Says:

    haha, that’s a funny one. Maybe you ought to ask if Mr. Moore reads Chinese and whether he visits news.163.com.

  41. Jerry Says:

    @S.K. Cheung #39

    SK, you wrote:

    All we know so far is what you can access, sittin’ on a dock by the Bay. The more important question is what people can access sitting in China. And in that respect, Mr. Moore has a leg up on all the usual suspects around here.

    So, with that in mind, I thought it was time to revisit David Bandurski of U of HK’s Journalism and Media Studies Center and their wonderful China Media Project. He recently wrote an article, on November 10, titled On Journalist’s Day in China, two warning bells.

    By David Bandurski — Tensions between professional values and the party line have quietly marked every Chinese Journalist’s Day since the holiday was inaugurated on November 8, 2000. Nine years ago, the November 8 issue of Guangdong’s Southern Weekend argued boldly that journalists should show “social conscience” by exposing the truth. On the same day, however, propaganda leaders stressed that journalists must “be firm and unshakeable in carrying out the news theory and policy direction of the ruling party.”

    This year, Journalist’s Day has come and gone with little cause for celebration among journalists in China who harbor professional ideals. The holiday was marked, in fact, by two distinct warning bells.

    The first warning bell came as recent troubles at Caijing magazine culminated in the resignation of editor-in-chief Hu Shuli (胡舒立).

    Hu’s departure marked the end of Caijing as one of China’s most outspoken and professional media outlets, and as a key destination and training ground for top journalists. It also underscored the way the professional spirit in Chinese media is now being squeezed more tightly than ever between the priorities of government censorship on the one hand and the prerogative of commercial profit on the other.

    The second warning bell came in the form of a speech by politburo member Li Changchun (李长春) to mark Journalist’s Day, in which the ideological chief laid stronger emphasis on media control and avoided all pretense of caring about the public’s “right to know.”

    In a sobering analysis of this year’s speech, Song Zhibiao (宋志标), a journalist who works at Southern Metropolis Daily’s editorial page, noted important changes from Li Changchun’s 2008 speech. Song’s post was quickly expunged from mainland-based websites.

    [Bandurski shows a Baidu search and goes on to note — ABOVE: A search for Song Zhibiao’s analysis of Li Changchun’s Journalist’s Day speech through Baidu.com comes up with a warning saying results cannot be shown because they do not comply with laws and regulations.]

    As in last year’s speech, Li gave top priority to “the principle of party spirit [in journalism]” (党性原则), the notion that news media must adhere to the party’s propaganda discipline and to “correct guidance of public opinion.”

    But this reiteration of the priority of media control was complemented in this year’s speech by clear changes in official language concerning citizen’s rights and information.

    Song notes that in Li Changchun’s 2008 speech the term “truth in the news” (新闻真实) made an appearance. This year, the term made a rapid exit.

    Perhaps more worryingly, Hu Jintao’s so-called “four rights” — the right to know (知情权), right to participate (参与权), right to express (表达权) and right to monitor (监督权) — which appeared in the political report to the last Party Congress in 2007 and made Li’s speech last year, were dropped altogether this year from the main portion of Li’s speech dealing with priority work for the future. The language appears only in Li’s preamble, which outlines “valuable experiences” in media policy over the past 60 years.

    These rather conspicuous absences seem to indicate that top leaders would rather not stake out a position on the ethic of neutrality (中立价值) for the news media, and intend to emphasize the news media’s fealty to the party over any interest, however tentative, in social rights. …

    David’s analysis causes me to wonder just how much of the interview made it into Southern Weekend. And what potential questions to Obama were censored out before the interview. A mainlander might be able to reach a link, but what are they getting when they reach the link? I am not there in da lu, so I can only wonder. It seems that Bandurski and Moore may have a better grasp than any of us out here at FM.

  42. stuart Says:

    “I just find the Western Media obsessed about the Chinese government.”

    If the Chinese government behaved in a more open, responsible, mature, and accountable way they wouldn’t get so much scrutiny. At their insistance no questions were allowed from reporters at Hu’s and Obama’s joint ‘press conference’. That kind of childish paranoia from a country with serious global clout deserves a closer look.

  43. miaka9383 Says:

    Through out this discussion everyone seems to forget…
    Despite all of the economic growth in China, China is still a developing country. They are still finding their way dealing with the Global Community.
    Where as United States is a very young country but had a crash course with foreign relations after wwI and wwII, now it is being cocky and thinking it is a super power with no humbleness.
    What you guys don’t see is the Conservative reactions to Obama’s visit, they are comparing it to when Kennedy visited the Soviet Union and Soviet Union at the time in return believed that Kennedy was weak and took advantage of them, the conservatives believe that the same thing will happen to Obama.
    But these reactions from the U.S and the childish paranoia it is all part of the growing pains. Not that I don’t think childish paranoia is ridiculous and absurd, but I know it is just part of the process of growing.

  44. Charles Liu Says:

    Stuart, did China irresponsibly invade another country on false WMD accusation, like we did? Did the Chinese leadership adopt “the 1% doctrine” paranoia like our own dick Cheney?

    I think it’s only fair that we try to measure ourselves with the same bar that we set for others.

  45. pug_ster Says:


    The US will always have ulterior motives for China. In the 1970’s the US welcomed China with open arms because they believe that they can spread their influence over China as a counterbalance over the USSR during the cold war days. China was then welcomed to the WTO and the UN security council. US wants to push democracy to China but ultimately wants to have influence over China politically and economically but after the TSM incident in 1989 they realized that they don’t have political influence anymore. Frankly the Democrats being more concerned about jobs and economy are more concerned about China’s economic influence whereas Republicans welcomes China’s economic influence more than the Democrats.

    I don’t understand why the US is complaining about the trade imbalance when the US don’t considered themselves as the problem. After 1989 the US severely limits the exports of high tech products to China and limits Chinese money to buy/invest into American companies. The US is making a huge mistake in doing so because many other Western countries will ultimately sell high tech products to or allow Chinese money from China in boosting their economies and US will be left behind economically.

  46. pug_ster Says:

    Update: Who would’ve thought an American criticizing US media?

    Envoy criticizes US media over Obama visit


  47. Stinky Says:

    The folks at Flogging for China must be receiving handouts from China’s Ministry of Propaganda. If not, you’ve been duped. Instead of griping over the occasional misteps of the Western media in its handling of China, why don’t you take on the much more serious issue of media censorship in China? I suggest starting with a discussion of Fool’s Mountain and the fact that it’s been blocked by the Great Nanny. Afterwards, you might like to move on to a discussion regarding the interview with President Obama in this week’s edition of Southern Weekend (南方周末) and the reasons why the Chinese media has been ordered by the Ministry of Propaganda not to distribute the piece. (For those who are interested, more on this subject can be found here http://chinadigitaltimes.net/2009/11/propaganda-department-bans-obama-interview/).

    In the end, considering the lack of important speech and media freedoms in the People’s Republic, Fool’s Mountain’s emphasis on perceived Western media bias rightfully belongs to the category of pet peeves. Put simply, criticizing the West’s much superior press and media is a waste of time when China’s is so much worse. As the apt passage from the Bible suggests, “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” (i.e., Why do you criticize the relatively minor faults of others when your own faults are much greater?) Reading this and other similar posts here at Fool’s Mountain, I’m reminded of the Chinese idiom 五十步笑百步, which I would modify to read 万步笑五十步 (hint: 万步 refers to the Chinese media / 五十步 refers to the Western media).

    Again, I must point out the obvious irony of this post and Fool’s Mountain’s apparent raison d’être: While you obsess over the minor transgressions of the Western media, you appear blind to the fact that people like me are forced to 翻墙 (i.e., “scale the [Great Fire]wall”) in order to read your blog. Once again, for something like the 20th year running, the French organization Reporters sans frontières (i.e., Reporters Without Borders / 无国界记者) has ranked China near or at the bottom of the list of countries on its annual Press Freedom Index (in 2009, China ranked just 168th out of 175). Likewise, the same organization has labeled China one of just 12 global “Enemies of the Internet.” With such important stories left unaddressed here at Fool’s Mountain, how can you expect anyone (well, except for the intrepid Pugster, of course) to take anything you say seriously. The day the Chinese media enjoys the same freedoms as the Western media; the day that the Chinese press reports on the West with the same accuracy as the Western press now reports on China – that will be the day when I, for one, will begin seriously listening to what Fool’s Mountain has to say about anti-China bias in the Western media. Until that day, such posts are not simply meaningless, they are an embarrassment.

    Press Freedom Index: http://www.rsf.org/en-classement1003-2009.html

    Enemies of the Internet: http://www.rsf.org/en-ennemi26134-China.html

  48. S.K. Cheung Says:

    “Maybe you ought to ask if Mr. Moore reads Chinese and whether he visits news.163.com.” — perhaps I should. He would have a much better idea of what information is and isn’t available in China than many of the self-proclaimed experts around these parts.

    And I believe, in its haste to make a point, this thread omits the bigger picture. Let’s even stipulate that every Obama speech transcript that is available to the California google experts are also available to internet users in China. It might be encouraging, and certainly noteworthy, that a foreigner’s criticism of how China conducts her media control is made available to the Chinese masses. But, at once, the fact that this might be noteworthy is also indicative of the sorry state of censorship in China. And certainly, Jerry’s link in #41 does not provide for much hope either.

    At the same time, assuming those same stipulations, it is amusing to see the apparent glee at the fact that a couple of news outlets apparently got their story wrong on this occasion. If it were me, I wouldn’t be happy about it, but simply relieved, since it shows that, on those rare occasions, China does in fact have the capacity to openly propagate criticism of itself. Most of the time, that capacity appear sorely lacking.

  49. Charles Liu Says:

    The media claim that Obama speech was not covered outside Shanghai is simply false, as I have spoken to someone in Shenzhen who watched it on TV live last Saturday.

  50. Jerry Says:

    @pug_ster #45 #46

    “The US will always have ulterior motives for China.” (#45)

    Pug_ster, “ulterior motives” are the norm in foreign relations, for most countries and their leaders. Hell, “ulterior motives” are the norm for many human beings.

    In addition to “ulterior motives”, skullduggery, espionage, treachery, CYA, double-talk, euphemisms, to list just a few, are also the norm in foreign relations, for most countries.

    And, surprise, surprise, most countries even spy on their allies and friends.

    “I don’t understand why the US is complaining about the trade imbalance when the US don’t considered themselves as the problem.”

    Accountability is not the norm for most countries and their leaders. “Wagging the dog”, “Whipping boys”, “fall guys”, scapegoats, to name just a few, are the norm for most countries, their leaders and human beings in general.

    “The US is making a huge mistake in doing so because many other Western countries will ultimately sell high tech products to or allow Chinese money from China in boosting their economies and US will be left behind economically.”

    Well, time will tell. Forecasts are dangerous. The world is chaotic and dynamic.

    You wrote in #46:

    Update: Who would’ve thought an American criticizing US media?

    Envoy criticizes US media over Obama visit

    Pug_ster, the American press is covering this too. AP put out an article titled US envoy criticizes coverage of Obama China visit.

    There is nothing unusual, nothing extraordinary about this. My answer to your question is, “Yes, I expected it!” Administration officials, no matter the administration, regularly go after critics of the administration. In fact, I think it is expected that administration officials will “defend the fort”.

    Actually, I thought Jon Huntsman made some good points. On one point, I disagree. “Although producing no breakthroughs on key issues, Obama’s first state visit to the Asian giant that ended Wednesday was heralded by both sides as a success.”

    So what was so successful and so worthy of being heralded? IMHO, international forums and meetings like the one between Obama and Hu are just big three-ring circus productions, pompous affairs of state and major-league public relations events. At best, they are starts. It will take a lot of follow-up work, effort, sweat, reflection, political will, discipline, intestinal fortitude and time to really produce solid, substantial, long-lasting results. Last, but not least, it will also take luck.

    To quote Ecclesiastes 9:11:

    I have seen something else under the sun: The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all.

    And, as the old saw goes, “Rome was not built in a day.” Time and chance will tell.

  51. FOARP Says:

    @Charles – On satellite TV? HK TV? Or perhaps on the local Shanghai channel rebroadcast in Shenzhen? You’ll have to go a lot further to prove any of this stuff ‘false’ – but you’d know this if you had ever lived in China properly.

    And are you going to take this as proof that censorship isn’t a very real fact on Chinese television? Ask you Shenzhen friend to watch the re-broadcast HK television channels, particularly the news programs, and count the number of times that the feed suddenly switches to adverts when they mention happenings in mainland China.

    And yes, it is pretty weird that the OP takes such pleasure out of this. This ‘biased media’ complex you guys have is not in any way substantiated by this story.

  52. pug_ster Says:


    You’re trying to get away the face that the US the number 1 country who does this because they can as they are the superpower. ‘Most’ countries don’t have a full fledged extensive network to gather intelligence from other countries like the US.

    I think this whole restriction of high tech export to China is dumb because they are ‘military grade’ Many consumer products out there like Intel Quad core processors to the Nvidia GPU”s are already considered military grade.

  53. dewang Says:

    Hi rolf, #35
    Interesting list. It seems the “Western” media is interested in making the Obama visit it an “internet censorship” thing.

    Hi All
    James Fallows has a series of articles looking at the Western coverage of Obama’s recent visit to China:

    Manufactured failure #2: the press, Obama, Asia

    I’ll just quote Fallows concluding remarks on that post:

    “I wasn’t in touch with Howard French or Tish Durkin (to say nothing of Amb. Jon Huntsman) before we all expressed the same amazed and negative reaction at the way our colleagues had missed the main point of what just happened in America’s relations with a very important part of the world. We’re all familiar with one “crisis of the press,” the business collapse. This is a different kind of crisis, though it makes the business crisis worse: the distortion of reality by compressing every complex issue into the narrative of the DC-based “horse race.” As you can tell, this really bothers me. “

  54. Charles Liu Says:

    dewang, eventhou fallows stuck to the “censorship” line, IMHO his observation on the Obama visting China thing is yet another example in the pattern of behavior on China reporting – it seems to serve no purpose other than to re-enforce an “official narrative” in our public opinion.

  55. FOARP Says:

    Charles, in all your years that is about the stupidest thing you have ever written. Please look up the meaning of the word ‘official’.

  56. Steve Says:

    @ DeWang #53: Thanks for that reference. It gets better in Manufactured Failure #3. A US government official who was on the trip with Obama had this to say:

    About what the Administration hoped for from the trip:

    “In thinking about the trip, the things we were trying to accomplish were all basically long term things. We were not looking for ‘deliverables’ or one-day stories. You’ve now got eight or nine countries among the G20 that are Asia-Pacific countries. The historic shift of power and influence from West to East is reflected in that number.

    “Obama is very focused on global issues, things like climate change, financial imbalances, non proliferation, energy issues. We saw all the countries on this trip as players on those global issues. Of course China is important in particular, but also Korea and Japan and the ASEAN countries. So we saw this as a way of developing relationships that would be helpful to us as we tackled these issues coming down the road.

    “We’ve got Copenhagen [climate talk] coming up in mid-December. We have Iran heading increasingly likely toward Plan B rather than Plan A, pressure rather than inducements. North Korea. And the Copenhagen session is very far from a done deal. The countries we dealt with are all key players here. And on the economic side, you’ve got the whole issue of rebalancing the global agenda. None of those is something where you come out of a meeting and say Eureka. They’re all part of a long process and a long game.

    “The other thing we had in mind, which has to do with the whole “rising China” phenomenon: we wanted to solidify the relationship with China. To show them that we’re not going to have a fluctuating policy. That we know what we’re doing, and understand that we are dealing from a position of strength. And at the same time, to all our traditional allies [Japan, Korea, etc], we wanted to reinforce their sense of comfort that our relationship with China won’t be at their expense.”

    About the Town Hall meeting in Shanghai: Why was it “censored” rather than streamed to anyone who wanted to see it in China?

    “We negotiated endlessly against a very difficult Chinese government on the issue. Their intransigence tells me several things. It was the day before the meeting with Hu Jintao, and there were uneasy about what might be said in a live format. [“Surprise” = “unacceptable risk” in many official Chinese dealings.] This was also a townhall format of a type they had never had before. [What about Bill Clinton’s? That was a roundtable plus a speech, not a town hall.] We wanted to have 1000 or 1500 people. They said No. Security problems, and so on. So, we got to 500. We insisted on live streaming. Endless fights on that. Then live TV. Endless fights. And questions from the internet. Huge fights over who would pose them and who would screen. There wasn’t a single aspect of the meeting that wasn’t hard fought.

    “It was tortured enough that we thought about pulling the plug. At the end of the day we decided to go through. The point is that on the Chinese side, this showed more than the usual anxiety. I think there was a genuine anxiety about the possible… force of Barack Obama. I would say a word short of “subversive” or “destabilizing.” But something profoundly disturbing to their system of government and control. The anxiety was a tribute to the kind of inspirational force he has.

    “What they actually did, was to put the live streaming part on Xinhua.net. For the opening portion, we studied very carefully Ronald Reagan’s speech at Fudan in 1984. It began almost identically: Here is who we are, and these are our values. But Reagan’s ended with a poem from Zhou Enlai. Can you Imagine what would have happened if Barack Obama had ended up with a poem by Zhou Enlai?

    “We know there were tens of millions of hits on Xinhua.net. And more than two or three tens of millions. Some people complained that this was carried ‘only’ on Shanghai TV, but that reaches reaches 100 million households. Of the top 10 Chinese web sites, nine carried news and commentary. Thousands of user generated messages and blog posts. Tens of millions people in the first instance saw it, and by the time it’s over the number is going to be staggering. Whenever we had a discussion about, Should we pull the plug, we thought, if there is an opportunity to talk to tens of millions of people, that is an opportunity we should take. People can draw their conclusions about China and America from the event.”

    And from Manufactured Failure #4:

    About the “humiliating” bow to the Emperor of Japan:

    “Obama’s attitude was, this is an elderly gentleman in a country where this kind of greeting is customary. It does not seem extraordinary to show this kind of gesture to him. The Fox news poll said that 67% of Americans thought it was a good thing for him to have done. When the president heard that some people had complained, I’d characterize his reaction as: The notion that the United States is somehow humbling or humiliating itself by showing respect for a local custom, when it is transparently the most powerful country in the world, leaves me speechless.”

    On what Obama “got” from China on climate/environment issues:

    “We closed some of the gap but not all of the gap. The Chinese do not wish, three weeks out of Copenhagen, to be seen working hand in glove with the US to impose a “G2” solution to the G77. They have their own reservations about how far things should go. But they also don’t want to be seen as the stumbling block or odd man out.

    “We kept making the argument, We’re the #1 and 2 emitters, so we have a special responsibility, a special role. We got some movement. They are taking substantial mitigating steps, which they didn’t enumerate but we know what they are. As best we can tell, they are prepared to submit those as their “target” in Copenhagen, and of course we want them to be “commitments” rather than targets. There is still a stumbling block on the issue of accountability, which is always a hard one with the Chinese. We’d like to have an independent peer review of whether doing what you said you would do. There are lots of different ways to do that… But we haven’t closed that part of the gap yet.

    “Prime Minister Rasmussen [Lars Loekke Rasmussen of Denmark, with obvious involvement in the Copenhagen talks] has been saying that while a binding legal treaty by this December is not possible, he has been calling for a politically-binding accord at Copenhagen. Then there would be the task of turning it into a treaty over the next year. The Chinese have bought into that general framework. And we made a lot of agreements with them on clean energy [details here]. So on climate change, there were no miracles, but we moved them out out of the position of being blockers to being part of the game.

    On what happened regarding North Korea and Iran:

    “North Korea first. We announced that [Ambassador Stephen] Bosworth was going there on December 8. Essentially we want his talks to be followed by resumption of Six Party Talks before terribly long. We told the Chinese that. In the joint statement, the Chinese did in fact commit to seeking resumption of Six Party Talks at an early date. They agreed to that principle, and they were pretty robust in their insistence that they care about the denuclearization of North Korea. In fact they more than anyone else have reasons to be troubled by the program. The missiles may not be aimed at China, but they are right next to China. So our perspectives are not identical, but on North Korea, we’re doing pretty well.

    “Iran has been more difficult, and will probably become a more sensitive issue. Iran itself is heading the wrong direction. By end of the year, we may have to go to the pressure track. We made a strong presentation, whose gist was: Time is running out, and if this situation continues, several other clocks are ticking. There’s the Israeli clock. If Israel decides to do something, we cannot stop them. If it’s an existential decision, you don’t consult anybody else. And Saudi Arabia and Turkey and Egypt probably would follow with nuclear programs. What’s the impact of that on security in the Persian Gulf and the international non-proliferation regime? And on Japan and Korea? It is profoundly in China’s interest to stay close to the “P5 + 1.” [Five UN Security Council permanent members, plus Germany.]

    “On the one hand, they get it. But as a matter of principle they don’t like sanctions and are concerned about their energy supplies, and they always like to free-ride. If the Russians are on board they will be on board too. At the end of the day, I expect the China will be on board. There may be some foot-dragging about specifics of a resolution, depending on how draconian it is. Russia is the bigger challenge, in the sense that if you get China.

    About judging the results of these talks – and those on economics:

    “Discussions with the Chinese just don’t offer dramatic breakthrough moments. It’s water on a stone. They don’t reveal their Eurekas to you. While you’re there you get fairly predictable responses. Next time you go back and get a little different treatment.

    “Judgments will be borne out over time. Will they cooperate or not on Iran? Will they be spoilers or not on climate change? On North Korea? Rebalancing their economy? None of those is a one-day story. The only fair way of evaluating results will be over time.

    “But I get the sense that many of our critics would not be happy unless Obama punched the Chinese leaders in the nose.”

    I would usually not include such a long text but this is coming straight from the horses’ mouth, so to speak, from someone who was involved in both planning and the meetings themselves.

    I also asked an old friend from Japan what she thought about Obama’s bow to the Emperor and she felt it was polite manners on his part and said it was very well received by the Japanese people she knew. Given the current political climate in Japan, this is probably a good thing.

    @ Charles Liu #54: As usual, I have absolutely no idea what you’re trying to get at. Thanks for the completely irrelevant Bing search results. How about typing “2012 end of the world” next time? I guess if there are a lot of hits, that would mean the end of the world must be in our near future. 😛

  57. FOARP Says:

    @Steve – I too am baffled. Charles seems to believe that because the media has been critical of THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES in an allegedly unfair fashion it is attempting to re-enforce an `official narrative` – OH MY GOD, THERE A SEARCH ENGINE LINK!!!!!?!?! IT MUST BE TRUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11111111111ONE!

    The silliest thing is how he managed to read the Fallow`s piece and come away from it with the idea that James Fallows, an author who he has accused of being part of his imagined anti-China conspiracy, thinks that the western media has been unfairly critical of China. Had Charles actually bothered to read what Fallow`s wrote, he might have actually realised that the point of his article was that the media has stuck to Washington-style political partisanship and short-termism in its reporting of the visit rather than seeing the big picture.

    Charles Liu is the natural end-point in the evolution of the fenqing – a `Chinese` nationalist who knows nothing even about China.

  58. Charles Liu Says:

    Steve @ 56, the link was provided for those who are ignorant of the term “official narrative”. I guess you have to read comment 55 for context.

  59. dewang Says:

    Hi Steve, #56,

    I absolutely agree – “coming straight from the horses’ mouth” is the best. This is an important relationship. If we dig hard enough, we eventually find out that the talks between the leaders are very comprehensive. That speaks to the depth of the intertwining relationship that is the reality today.

    The infatuation with Internet censorship by some media and by some here is rather silly. I am not going to waste any more time on it.

    I find it encouraging on many fronts – for example, the thinking that the 2 top polluting countries on this planet need to work substantively. The attitude and tone of this U.S. official is perfectly right, and in his last sentence, he said, “many of our critics would not be happy unless Obama punched the Chinese leaders in the nose.”

    I am encourage too that the White house is speaking directly so much more to U.S. citizens through its blog. They do it in a fairly down to earth type of way too. Perhaps Obama will show the world how this can be done.

    It’d be interesting if someone can help us get the Chinese official’s view on Obama’s trip and the preparations involved. The U.S. official obviously speaks from the perspective of Obama’s team. For example, on climate change, I think China’s actions so far has been lauded by the world community. The U.S. getting an bilateral agreement with China will instantly give credence to U.S.’s efforts and thwart the criticism wrought on the U.S. by the world.

    Hi FOARP, #57,

    Perhaps Charles will elaborate on #54. I don’t know what he meant there either.

    Regarding his gripes with Fallows – well, I know he was upset by Fallow’s blog entry regarding Lou Jing. I was too, because, to me, he showcased the racist comments only. No effort was done to showcase what other Chinese people are saying.

    So, on Steve’s Lou Jing post, both Charles and I thought Fallow’s blog entry was misleading to his readers. Most of the Chinese population have never seen a Black person in their lives.

    Guess what happened? Last week, Fallows was on NPR’s (was it Morning Edition?). He was asked why Obama did not receive a “rock-star” reception like he did in Europe. He simply stated, “because the Chinese are racist against Blacks.”

    That’s a load of crap. No U.S. president has ever received a “rock-star” reception in China. For that matter, I don’t think any foreign leader has.

    He may be honest about what he thinks. But I think that type of remark given how little interaction the ordinary Chinese people have with non-Chinese is absurd – it’s almost racist itself.

  60. Charles Liu Says:

    Dewang, the “obama speech censorship” is simply bunk IMHO.

    Why is that when I looked, there are plenty of news article, transcript, video footages of Obama’s townhall meeting? Why is that when I ask people in China, they tell me they’ve seen the Obama speech on TV?

  61. Malcolm Moore Says:

    I’m sorry that I’ve come to this thread late, especially since I’m name-checked on it.

    As a Western journalist based in Shanghai perhaps I can clear a few things up.

    On the day of Obama’s town hall, everyone was watching closely to see what the reaction would be.

    I can only read a little Mandarin, but my (excellent) assistant was watching Netease, Sina, 163.com and others.

    She told me that stories specifically about Obama’s comments on censorship were posted on the front page of several portals.

    It was these sensitive stories, not the links to Xinhua or more general stories about the Townhall meet, that were then censored shortly afterwards, and which Western journalists were referring to.

    As the Washington Post piece you quote from says:

    “The sina.com site, for example, initially ran the story under the headline: ‘Obama: The Internet is a tool for becoming stronger and citizens can participate.’ An hour later, anyone going to that link got the message, ‘Cannot find the page.'”

    My assistant also said there had been several thousand comments left on Netease but that these were also deleted. The number count for the comment thread was still visible, but the link to it had been removed.

    The full transcript of Obama’s words was available at all times on Xinhua, although access to it was patchy for a short while, and I think it’s worth pointing out that the AP mentioned this. As did I, in my report.

  62. FOARP Says:

    @Charles Liu – Maybe because you don`t even know what you are talking about? The authorities controlled who would speak, placed restrictions on what questions could be asked, and restricted how and where it could be broadcast. This is plainly born out by the comments made by US officials. However, they certainly didn`t prevent what was actually said at the townhall emerging, although some of the routes by which it has emerged (Satellite TV, foreign video hosts which require a proxy to reach etc.) will have been illegal.

    And Charles, I think your search didn`t do what it was supposed to do, as you obviously still need to learn what `official narrative` means.

  63. Jerry Says:

    @FOARP #57, @dewang #59

    Dewang, you wrote:

    Guess what happened? Last week, Fallows was on NPR’s (was it Morning Edition?). He was asked why Obama did not receive a “rock-star” reception like he did in Europe. He simply stated, “because the Chinese are racist against Blacks.”

    That’s a load of crap. No U.S. president has ever received a “rock-star” reception in China. For that matter, I don’t think any foreign leader has.

    He may be honest about what he thinks. But I think that type of remark given how little interaction the ordinary Chinese people have with non-Chinese is absurd – it’s almost racist itself.

    Your statement immediately raised my suspicions. It just did not ring true. Fallow generally conducts himself very well and does not blurt things out just for show. He is a journalist.

    So I went looking for this show out at NPR. I scoured the transcripts for Morning Edition for Nov 17th and the day before and day after. No soap. He appeared on the 14th and 21 on ATC (All Things Considered) in his regular segment, “Fallows on the News”. Nothing in the transcripts there. I found that he appeared on WNYC’s “On the Media” on the 20th. Nothing there in the transcripts. Finally, the search showed that he had appeared on the morning of the 17th on SF’s KQED radio show, “Forum with Michael Kransky”. The show’s mp3 is available out at the show’s site titled Obama in Asia. It is available for download should you so choose.

    Since there was no transcript available, I transcribed it. The segment starts at around 24:30 and continues to around 25:20.

    Michael Krasny asks Fallows if the Chinese are more immune to his (Obama’s) star power.

    Fallows: Yes, I understand from my friends who are in Beijing and Shanghai now that he is popular while there. But clearly during the election, there was coolness to him compared with the reaction in Europe or South America or the Middle East. And partly it was unfamiliarity that people did not know about him. Partly it was simple racism. I would have quite educated Chinese academics or officials saying, “But how could you have a black person running the country and do they study hard enough, etc.?” So I think that it is a factor that nobody who has seen the situation there can deny.

    Funny, no mention of “rock star”; no mention of a ‘ “rock-star” reception’.

    And Fallows did not “simply” state, “because the Chinese are racist against Blacks.”

    “But I think that type of remark given how little interaction the ordinary Chinese people have with non-Chinese is absurd – it’s almost racist itself.”

    Funny, Fallows did not talk about the ordinary Chinese, the common man and woman; he referred to the reaction during the US elections which came from Chinese academics or officials.

    Dewang, Fallows’ answer was far more nuanced than your distorted recap of what Fallows said.

    Fallows is describing Chinese academics and officials putting blacks into a bucket, a racial bucket, a racist bucket. And that is racism. And it is a factor.

    Dewang, you are free to distort, free to misrepresent, free to twist words, free to imaginatively recreate interviews or free to try to channel Joe McCarthy. Anything to make a point, Dewang!!? It seems to me that you want to discredit Fallows very badly and disprove Chinese racism. Thus it seems that you will use whatever means necessary to discredit Fallows and disprove Chinese racism. I for one don’t buy it. No sale. Some scientist you are.

    And you are an editor here! ::shaking my head, again, and all that nonsense::

    I will leave you with one of my favorites, Richard Feynman, “… The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.”

  64. Steve Says:

    @ Malcolm Moore #61: Malcolm, thank you for taking the time to join our blog and fill us in on what you experienced in Shanghai. It’s appreciated.

    That same US government official whom I quoted earlier from James Fallows’ Atlantic blog is featured again in a post from last night, the final part of his off the record statement. As DeWang said in #59, this US official speaks from the perspective of Obama’s team. Per Fallows’ Manufactured Failure #6:

    On atmospheric payoffs of the trip:

    “Two of the press conferences, in Japan and South Korea, both began with the same elements. In Japan, Prime Minister Hatoyama got up and gushed that “my friend Barack calls me ‘Yukio.'” Then the Korean press conference began with [president] Lee Myung-bak saying, ‘We have become close friends.’ That says something. Those are not just routine polite words. It meant that Obama is profoundly popular in those countries. Hatoyama’s poll numbers are high but dropping, Lee Myung-bak has been embattled, though recovering. But both saw it as enormously important in terms of their own agenda to be identified with Barack Obama. In my mind, the personal popularity and respect for him is a strategic asset. And not one that gets you results in a day. If you have foreign leaders who see their own fate tied up with Obama, that becomes a chip you can draw on. If you need a last minute shift on climate change, they do not want to separate from Barack Obama. Everyone wants to be his best friend.”

    What about the view that Obama caved to the Chinese on human rights?

    “Here are the things we tried to do. Number one, he made a robust statement in Shanghai. Number two, have that reach as many tens of millions of Chinese as possible. You can argue about the degree of success, but the message got out. They had a chance to see him in a setting no Chinese had seen before. And beyond that was to be explicit and direct in the private meetings about the importance of our values and the effect on our relations. And then we put in references in the press conference statement to Tibet and the Dalai Lama, and the importance of rule of law, freedom of expression, protection of the rights of minorities, which was an obvious reference to the Uighurs and Tibetans. We went straight to Tibet in the statement, saying that we consider it part of China and urge direct negotiations with the Dalai Lama.”

    DeWang, per what I’ve seen in the past, if a Chinese official offered an “off the record” explanation to us from the Chinese side, that official would be “revealing state secrets” which is a crime in China. Until that changes, I suppose our information will be one-sided and we’ll all have to study the tea leaves to divine what they are thinking.

    Per the Fallows “racism” argument, I agree with him based not on internet racism towards Lou Jing but directly on my experience in China. And you don’t have to know or meet anyone in an ethnic group to have a racist attitude towards that group, only to exhibit racist behavior directly. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the racist postings towards Lou Jing were from people who had never met a black person in their lives.

    Trying to discern racist attitudes by the number of blog postings, blog hits, etc. is completely unscientific and useless information. All it can give you is certain attitudes and how those attitudes are expressed by some people. You actually have to live in a place to understand the true extent of racism, lack of racism, etc.

    For grins, I actually typed in “2012 end of the world” into the same Bing search engine that Charles used. Charles came up with 19,200 hits for his search. Mine came up with 6,010,000 hits. Therefore, by using web hits as the “scientific basis” for my research, the likelihood of the end of the world occurring in 2012 is over 300x more likely than… well, I still can’t figure out the significance of web hit numbers concerning “official narrative” but I’m sure Charles will fill me in. 😉

  65. Uln Says:

    @ Malcolm #61 – Thanks for coming over and explaining. This clarifies a bit the situation, and it looks like J. Martinsen got it right in the first comment: the portals like sina.com, etc. auto-censored too fast and then the official orders never came.

    Re: The full transcript of Obama’s words was available at all times on Xinhua, although access to it was patchy for a short while, and I think it’s worth pointing out that the AP mentioned this. As did I, in my report.

    I haven’t read all your reports or the AP ones at the time, but I take your word that this information was given. However, the message that passed on all the headlines in the West is that Obamas’ message had been censored to Chinese. Probably nobody said “completely censored”, probably many of the articles somewhere in the text clarified the situation, but people never read newspapers articles carefully, and the message that most Western readers got is: Obama’s QA was censored to the Chinese.

    I am not not familiar with the inside workings of the big media, but I am guessing that, once a good story is on the headlines, it is not cool to go and spoil it with partial objections for the sake of clarity, it is not like most of the readers care about complete truth anyway, what they want is to buy an interesting newspaper, full of juicy headlines.

    Having said all this, my comment is not particularly against you or AP, or even against Western media in China. It is rather a general problem of all the free media in the World and its conflicts of interests. I spoke a bit more about it here: The Media

    In conclusion, I think the OP in this post is making a big deal of an error that is very common to non-State Media all over the World, and it tries hard to find Anti-China plots where there is nothing like that. There IS anti-China bias in the Western Media, IMO, but I don’t think this was the best example of it.

  66. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Malcolm Moore #61 and Jerry#63:
    those were brilliant pieces of information. Thanks. I wonder what Dewang and others’ responses will be. Jerry, as you say, anything to make a point, eh? Far too cumbersome, for some people at least, to let facts get in the way of such an enjoyable and rewarding exercise. But hey, it is a free country…well, at least the one these good folks are living in, and not the one which is the subject of this blog. BTW, I found myself ROFL when I read your post, though I’m still in possession of all body parts. Hope that’s ok.

    To ULN:
    “probably many of the articles somewhere in the text clarified the situation, but people never read newspapers articles carefully” — you’re not kidding. And examples abound just from some of the usual suspects around here.

    “it tries hard to find Anti-China plots where there is nothing like that. There IS anti-China bias in the Western Media, IMO, but I don’t think this was the best example of it.” — hear hear.

  67. hzzz Says:

    Oh, the so called “Western Media” is on the defensive, again.

    Let’s be honest here, China does censor its media on certain items. Whether they censored elements of the Obama visit or not is only a piece of the larger picture.

    That being said, the “Western media” simply loves to project what it HOPES to the be the reality rather than simply reporting on the truth. When the Uighur riots started I recall reading headlines like “police brutally cracked down on Uighur dissidents” and crap like that. It’s things like that which made websites like anti-CNN so popular and at the same time destroying the credibility of all other western reporters in China. To make the matters worse, there appears to be zero accountability from the Western media organizations when its reporters do sub-par jobs.

    The fact that China censors its media SHOULD NOT justify “Western media”‘s incompetent and often extremely biased reporting. The same goes for the Chinese media too, just because Western reporters are biased does not mean that China SHOULD continue to censor its own journalists.

  68. dewang Says:

    Hi Jerry, #63, and All, and James Fallows,

    Jerry, you are right. I sincerely apologize to you and all on this forum for that misquote.

    Honestly, I tried looking for the podcast few days ago on KQED and I couldn’t find it, and I thought it was on Morning Edition. Also, before your transcription, they were talking about “Star Power.”

    I’ll admit guilt for having gotten too hung up on:

    “Partly it was simple racism.”

    And I completely misrepresented Fallows nuance. I was on radio on my way into to work and I tuned in towards the end. I certainly have some self reflection to do on this one as to how I can “hear” it so differently.

    Again, I apologize.

  69. dewang Says:

    Hi Uln, #65,

    If you read the OP, the point there is Western media is:

    A. The reporters, when it comes to reporting on China, feel no need to verify their single source of hearsay.
    B. One reporter rushed out a report without doing homework and others copied it.

    When people talk about the flaws in “Western” media, that does not automatically mean we are claiming there is a anti-China conspiracy.

    I’ll quote my original comments about Mr. Moore’s article:

    “Barack Obama’s exclusive interview with the Chinese media”

    The part that is directly related to DJ’s post here is what Moore claimed:

    “Since just about everything that Mr Obama said while he was in China was censored out of the domestic media, the print readership of this interview represents the widest audience of ordinary Chinese that the president is likely to reach.”

    Mr. Moore’s comment #61 does not explain why said this in his article.

  70. Charles Liu Says:

    hzzz, ‘“Western media”’s incompetent and often extremely biased reporting’

    Dewang’s “Echo Chamber” description in 69 A/B is entirely accurate.

    This isn’t the exception, rather, a pattern of behavior. As a consumer of these, IMHO propaganda, I often see them and wonder “would it be any different if it was state-sponsored?” Ambassador Huntsman’s criticism of our media’s protrail of Obama’s speech being limited is consistent with my own findings.

    Another example would be Pug_ster’s recent blogpost on National Geographic using photo of two men who attacked worshipers in a mosque in reference to Uyghur’s “struggle for human rights”. Imagine NatGeo representing photo of Palestinian attackers as Palestine’s “struggle for human rights”, the ADL would have a field day.

    But since it’s China, somehow it is not only okay, but fashionable to do it on regular basis. IMHO today’s racism is no longer the overt, obvious kind, but this rational, seemingly justfiable kind of racism.

    And Mr. Moore, I would urge you to become proficient in the Chinese language, as some in FM have relied on this excuse to stay ignorant. Exercise your accumen and judgement as a journalist, instead of relying on your excellent assistant to tell you what you want to hear.

    As to the Obama’s comments on censorshp being “sensitive stories” and were censored, here are some comparison between Washington Post’s speech transcript and transcript on on CCTV:

    “These freedoms of expression and worship — of access to information and political participation — we believe are universal rights. They should be available to all people, including ethnic and religious minorities — whether they are in the United States, China, or any nation.”

    “China is now the world’s largest Internet user — which is why we were so pleased to include the Internet as a part of today’s event. This country now has the world’s largest mobile phone network”

  71. FOARP Says:

    @Chuck – As a comedy piece that was actually quite good. Pugster posted an inaccurate attack on Nat Geo (which was nicely ripped to shreds by SKC over on that thred) which you are using to support you own false opinions – but somehow it’s the western media which is supposed to be an echo chamber.

  72. Charles Liu Says:

    “core principles — that all men and women are created equal, and possess certain fundamental rights; that government should reflect the will of the people and respond to their wishes; that commerce should be open, information freely accessible; and that laws, and not simply men, should guarantee the administration of justice.”

    These are the refernces to internet censorship, and the CCTV translation IMHO is satisfactory in terms of accuracy and completeness. Feel free to check other passages I have missed.

    Also, the articles that discuss Obama speech is plenty in China also – if his speech was censored, would there be so many Chinese people online talking about free flow of information Obama mentioned during the townhall?

    http://www.baidu.com/s?wd=%B0%C2%B0%CD%C2%ED+%D0%C5%CF%A2+%C1%F7%CD%A8+%D7%D4%D3%C9 (search keywords “Obama information flow freely”)

    As it seems, the transcript for the townhall is also readily available, for example:


    And if the issue is around the Obama townhall web question #2 pertaining to firewall and twitter – that question is also readily available:

    http://www.baidu.com/s?wd=%B0%C2%B0%CD%C2%ED+%D0%C5%CF%A2+%C1%F7%CD%A8+%B7%C0%BB%F0%C7%BD+twitter (search keyword “Obama information flow firewall twitter”)

    And the accusation the firewall/twitter question was censored doesn’t seem to hold water, as these links demonstrates – if this question wasn’t seen by people, why are all the transcripts and netters talking about it?

  73. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Dewang #68:
    kudos to you. It takes a principled and honourable man to do what you did here.

  74. pug_ster Says:

    @FOARP 71,

    SKC ripped nothing, he just filled nothing but mumbo jumbo to a conversation.

  75. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Pugster:
    LOL. It’s unbecoming to post something that can be ripped to shreds. It’s even more unbecoming to fail to recognize that fact. You’ve mastered both. I’ve provided a point by point evisceration of your post and responses on that thread. If you say I’ve failed in my attempts, perhaps you can provide a point by point response? Good luck with that.

  76. Jerry Says:

    @dewang #68

    Wow, that is impressive, Dewang. I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised this morning. It takes a very big man to apologize like you did. I am impressed.

    I hope you have set an example for others, including myself, to follow here at FM.

  77. Uln Says:

    @Dewang – OK, the main focus of your post was not really bias, but rather incompetence. So I do agree with the main content of the post for the reasons explained in #65.

    I guess my problem is more with the form of OP than with the content. The title, for example, seems to imply that there is no propaganda machinery, or that it is greatly exagerated by the foreign Media. Am I the only one to interpret it like this?

    I completely disagree with the tone of the title, because the fact that free Media is imperfect/incompetent should not serve as a justification, or even as a comparison with the fact that Chinese government apply censorship and restrict the freedom of speech. They are 2 completely different problems!

  78. Charles Liu Says:

    pug, “SKC ripped nothing, he just filled nothing but mumbo jumbo to a conversation.”

    I agree. The fact of the case is NatGeo used photo of criminals who attacked a mosque and unarmed worshipers in an article supposedly about “struggle for human rights.” Some fact check would’ve been nice.

  79. dewang Says:

    Hi Uln, #77,

    I agree with you they are two completely different problems.

    I know the “Western” perspective thinks government censorship is a much worse problem comparing the two. I think majority of the Chinese perspective don’t.

    Look at the comment above – of the U.S. government official:

    “But I get the sense that many of our critics would not be happy unless Obama punched the Chinese leaders in the nose.”

    I think the official is referring to the media. So, is this “imperfection/incompetence?” I don’t think so. Its about sensationalism and making $$$. That’s a huge problem.

  80. FOARP Says:

    @Charles – Wow, in discussing human rights in Xinjiang, which have been greatly affected by the violence, and the relative lack of which may well have been one of causes of the violence, they used one of the most dramatic photos of the violence there. Imagine I wrote a story on human rights in Northern Ireland and used a picture of IRA gunmen in it – I guess that must mean I support the IRA, right?

    @Dewang – Yeah, in this instance it does seem that some people in the US media were trying to create controversy (such as bowing before the Japanese Emperor somehow showing that Obama was ‘servile’) where none existed.


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