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Feb 28

(Letter) Lanxiang Vocational’s Mistaken Identity Traced

Written by guest on Sunday, February 28th, 2010 at 12:50 am
Filed under:-mini-posts, Analysis, News | Tags:, ,
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New York Times recently revealed two schools in China might the be the source of recent Google attack – Jiaotong University (known for its accomplishment in international computing contests) and Lanxiang Vocational School (known for its poor student accommodations, tacky infomercial).

While I have no problem with reports connecting eggheads at Jiaotong University hacking Google, it puzzled me how a 3rd rate voc tech for high school dropouts was implicated. So I decided to dig a little deeper.

Seem the source of Lanxiang Vocational’s mistaken identity can be traced to mistranslation of the school’s blog and local news about their graduates. Consider this passage from Washington Post:

“Lanxiang Vocational helped create what has become known as China’s “Great Firewall,” which filters Internet information in the country. According to the school’s Web site, it established a military department in 2006 to train “high quality technology officers.” Many of those students have gone on to form “the important technology backbone” of the People’s Liberation Army, the site said.”

It appears Washington Post quoted some very bad translation by China Digital Times blog.

CDT mistranslated the school’s blog praising it’s graduates earning specialist 2nd class “technical sergeant” enlistment as “technology officers”. Original language used was “technical” not “technology”, since the school offers no technology courses, only semi-skilled technical training.

CDT also cited a news report about 17 Lanxiang grads joining the military to support its claim of a “training program for future PLA technology officers”. What the news report actually said was >these 17 people were cooks and mechanics.

So, it seems, rather than reporting the likely scenario that Lanxiang Vocational was victim of cybercrime (their computers were hijacked to relay the attack), our media managed to twist this to implicate the Chinese government. As a minority citizen I have witness these twist of facts and half-truth contributing to America’s rising anti-Chinese hysteria, and I find it disheartening.


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16 Responses to “(Letter) Lanxiang Vocational’s Mistaken Identity Traced”

  1. Nimrod Says:

    This report on the hacking was one of the most ridiculous pieces of journalism I’ve seen and reveals the state of China reporting among the so-called cream-of-the-crop Western free media, which turns out to be no better than third-rate rumor-mongering bloggers from Tianya (a popular Chinese BBS), sometimes.

    While this mistake is obvious, other ones hiding in China reporting day in and day out are less so, and therein lies the danger of these rags. People should really stick to reporting what they well know and reading what they can well judge.

    What I’ve learned over the years was succinctly summed up by a Chinese netizen: believe less than you feel you should believe from foreign news — it is often false; and disbelieve less than you feel you should disbelieve from Chinese news — it is often true.

  2. r v Says:

    Western Journalism is rapidly surpassing cheap sensational tabloid journalism of 1990′s-2000′s into the mass media campaign of perjury of 2010′s.

    Abundance of freedom to lie without consequences.

    Freedom of speech has given rise to a new professional class of full time liars.

  3. Allen Says:

    Interesting post Charles. Thanks!

  4. S. K. Cheung Says:

    I’d certainly agree that this is an example of bad reporting by WP. No excuse for only getting it right on 1 of the 2 schools the article is implicating.

  5. ChineseInUK Says:

    S. K. Cheung Says:

    “I’d certainly agree that this is an example of bad reporting by WP. No excuse for only getting it right on 1 of the 2 schools the article is implicating.”

    Well, Cheung, the JiaoTong connection is not proven yet.

    So, SO BAD FOR BEING PROVEN FOR GETTING IT WRONG ON 1 OF THE 2 SCHOOLS THE ARTICLE IS IMPLICATING AND POSSIBLY SOON BE PROVEN THE OTHER ONE WAS WRNG TOO :)

  6. r v Says:

    Oh 1 out of 2?

    that only makes the news HALF full of poisonous lies?

    If this was Toyota, we would be screaming for a recall of all news from WP and NYT.

  7. pug_ster Says:

    What do you mean? Some these some of these 17 PLA people could be hackers, after all some of these are cooks who have to use butcher knives.

  8. Charles Liu Says:

    r v @2, shameful stuff like this isn’t unusual when it comes to news about China. The same reporter also wrote the “China Code” allegation that’s since discredited.

    CDT seems to habitually mistranslate things, so to enable our media’s continued indictment agasint China. IMHO Xiao Qiang is doing a great disservice for the overseas Chinese community, as his mistranslation help further these sensationalism and “official narrative”, contributing to America’s rising anti-China hysteria.

  9. raffiaflower Says:

    Learn to read publications such as NYT, WashPost, Times of London, IHT, as comics for grown-ups, then you get less het-up. The combination of prejudice, ignorance, hostility and outright mischief can be so entertaining.
    I once got an angry response from a NYT editor after I wrote in (politely, unlike my usual self) to point out a factual error. His reaction was quite entertaining.
    Like, I always thot Howard French (no, he’s not the same person) was the funniest man on IHT after Art Buchwald died. According to the China Beat, he’s now a dean of journalism. Figures.

  10. S. K. Cheung Says:

    To #5:
    I guess we’ll see. I’d imagine that Charles is scouring google and bing to try to disprove the other connection, and I’d also surmise that he will be sure to share it with us should he find some. But his OP seems to concede at least the plausibility of such a connection.

    To 6:
    dude, it was one article. Bit of an over-generalization, wouldn’t you say?

  11. Charles Liu Says:

    Nimrod @ 1, “cream-of-the-crop Western free media”

    Speaking of that, can you believe one of the first news outlet that actually got the story right was The Inquirer?

    Google was brought down by Chinese hairdressers

    Saw this on ESWN.

  12. Joseph Lemien Says:

    Excellent investigation! Thank you for bringing these facts to light.

  13. rolf Says:

    “It appears Washington Post quoted some very bad translation by China Digital Times blog. CDT mistranslated the school’s blog praising it’s graduates earning specialist 2nd class “technical sergeant” enlistment as “technology officers”… CDT also cited a news report about 17 Lanxiang grads joining the military to support its claim of a “training program for future PLA technology officers”. What the news report actually said was these 17 people were cooks and mechanics.”

    And who is supporting Chinese Digital Times (CDT)?

    CDT sponsors: “Special thanks to … Open Society Institute, National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (TFD) for the generous support.” http://chinadigitaltimes.net/sponsors

    By the way CDT also seems to be hacked!

  14. Charles Liu Says:

    To date, Ellen Nakashima has not corrected or retracted her misreporting.

  15. Titocasche Says:

    As a person who have lived in Jinan(where Lanxiang is located) for 20 years, I found this report is so ridiculous and to be honest, it become a joke on Chinese forums. My friends on Renren (Chinese facebook) shared some reports, links about it and people are laughing at how funny the new is.

  16. Titocasche Says:

    As a person who have lived in Jinan(where Lanxiang is located) for 20 years, I found this report is so ridiculous and to be honest, it become a joke on Chinese forums. My friends on Renren (Chinese facebook) shared some reports, links about it and people are laughing at how funny the new is. I don’t think Western “Free media” have good image in China, but it is true that some news agent should be more responsible.

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