21
May
08

They don’t give you any choice ’cause they think that it’s treason

Here are some of things being said on the English radio station in Beijing:

“I feel that the government is like a mother, who has too many children to take care of.”
“This is a real step in right direction, for the transparency of the media.”
“Now the world sees how tough the Chinese can be.”
“This makes me so proud to be Chinese.”

I don’t know if this is the way that the Chinese-language media, but I’m assuming it is. (The second quotation was from the British guy on the station, and quite surprising, given that it tacitly acknowledges that the Chinese government hasn’t tolerated much transparency in the media in the past.)

About the post-Earthquake media here: There is a tone, bordering on the distasteful, of self-congratulatory praise at every turn. Every so often, there are people quoting rescue workers and even international diplomats heaping reams of praise on the Chinese government, and even in a few cases, the Communist Party itself. There hasn’t been any shortage of praise heaped on Premier Wen Jiabao, or President Hu Jintao, either, because they apparently visited the devastated area and met with victims and rescue workers. I keep remembering President Bush in similar circumstances, in particular his visits to New Orleans after Katrina or his visits to New York after 9/11. He received some praise and some criticism for his visits, and I think for my part, I disagree with those who said that he wasn’t showing enough sensitivity by waiting so long to come.

To my thinking, politicians should stay away from such areas. Politicians often only want to go to disaster areas to “share their pain” (a term that was actually used in praise of Hu Jintao in local media), and thus make themselves look good. But in reality, a politician visiting a disaster area is a distraction at best, and hampers rescue workers who now have to scramble to make all sorts of preparations in terms of security to make the visit possible. For all I know, Wen and Hu deserve all the praise in the world for their efforts, but this shouldn’t include the actual visits. And it should go without saying that the self-congratulatory “The-Chinese-Government-Is-Doing-Such-A-Good-Job!” stuff really needs to be toned down.

I thank you guys for opening up the media a tad here, letting international journalists there, and especially for at least acknowledging aid from the US, Japan, Russia, the UK, and others, but please, let your audience make its own judgments about the efficacy of rescue workers and the Chinese government. And while you’re at it, you might at least acknowledge the aid and condolences offered by the Taiwanese government and the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan Government-in-Exile. I appreciate that they haven’t been demonized lately, since the earthquake kind of pushed them out of the headlines. But at least acknowledging their generosity might be, well, generous of you.

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