Posted by Julian Smisek on Friday, October 15, 2010 at 5:40 AM
Rebel scum (Wikipedia)
On October 14th, the Chinese Communist Party's Propaganda Department relaxed their total news blackout around Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo. Major online news portals, including Netease and Sina, seem to have been instructed to prominently position a pair of Xinhua Daily articles that respond to the Nobel announcement.
The two articles, physically positioned high up on the news portal websites, are titled "From the Dalai Lama to Liu Xiaobo: What the Nobel Peace Prize Tells Us" and "Giving the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo was an Especially Big Mistake."
Following days of media blackout, the strong push behind the two articles suggests that the Party's propaganda apparatus is finally gearing up to 'lead public opinion,' a media control strategy used by the Party since 2005. Before 2005, the Party typically responded to negative events by suppressing all related news stories. Over the last five years, however, the Party's more common reaction to politically sensitive news has been to temporarily block all reports, craft an official version of events, and order media outlets to publish only the official version.
On October 8th, the day of the Nobel Peace Prize announcement, Xinhua published online the negative reaction of Ma Chaoxu, the spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry. But, the Nobel news was then instantly scrubbed from China’s domestic on- and offline media, and keyword filters were set in place to block discussion and searches of the Nobel Prize or Liu Xiaobo.
The two new articles illustrate the Party’s line of attack: discredit both the recipient and the prize, and cast the award as an attempt by Western forces to control China.
“From the Dalai Lama to Liu Xiaobo” begins with the money quote [translated here]:
A few people abroad have reacted to the news with joy, frolicking around as though they’ve taken drugs. One of these people is the Dalai Lama, who won the Peace Prize in 1989.
It’s a good thing the Dalai Lama came out [to congratulate Liu Xiaobo] because it reminds every Chinese person to think about why these two men won the Nobel Peace Prize. What’s the underlying link?
This question is immediately answered: “The Dalai Lama and Liu Xiaobo are the political dolls of Western forces.” From there, the author repeats the Party line on Tibet and the Dalai Lama (he’s a splittist) and connects him to Liu Xiaobo. The hoped for effect is to turn the Dalai Lama into a pair of concrete boots for Liu, helping him on his swim through Chinese public opinion.
The piece moves on to make the more legitimate point that the Nobel Peace Prize has been given to a few shady characters, and not given to others who may have been more deserving, like Gandhi.
The article ends by imploring readers to guard against various attempts by Western forces to contain China. “The time of the award is not an accident.” From “Tibetan independence,” and “currency wars,” to “military maneuvers” and the “Diaoyu Islands incident,” Western forces are attempting to “gain unilateral economic benefit” and “contain China militarily.”
Xinhua released the second article, “Giving the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo was an Especially Big Mistake,” in both English and Chinese, so interested readers can click through below. The article quotes heavily from Arnulf Kolstad, a professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, who believes that Liu Xiaobo’s actions did not fulfill the Nobel Peace Prize’s criteria.
Keyword filters are still in effect across various news portals, but Baidu is now linking to these two stories when searches are performed on ‘Liu Xiaobo.’
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The Eurasian Face : Blacksmith Books, a publishing house in Hong Kong, is behind The Eurasian Face, a collection of photographs by Kirsteen Zimmern. Below is an excerpt from the series:
Big in China: An adapted excerpt from Big In China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising A Family, Playing The Blues and Becoming A Star in China, just published this month. Author Alan Paul tells the story of arriving in Beijing as a trailing spouse, starting a blues band, raising kids and trying to make sense of China.
Pallavi Aiyar's Chinese Whiskers: Pallavi Aiyar's first novel, Chinese Whiskers, a modern fable set in contemporary Beijing, will be published in January 2011. Aiyar currently lives in Brussels where she writes about Europe for the Business Standard. Below she gives permissions for an excerpt.
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+ Religion and government in an uneasy mix (2008.03): Phoenix Weekly (凤凰周刊) article from October, 2007, on government influence on religious practice in Tibet.
+ David Moser on Mao impersonators (2004.10): I first became aware of this phenomenon in 1992 when I turned on a Beijing TV variety show and was jolted by the sight of "Mao Zedong" and "Zhou Enlai" playing a game of ping pong. They both gave short, rousing speeches, and then were reverently interviewed by the emcee, who thanked them profusely for taking time off from their governmental duties to appear on the show.