Foreign media on China

Xinhua's new rules; foreigners' old complaints

Here is a roundup of reactions from foreign journalists, bloggers and newspapers to the new rules issued by Xinhua that stipulate all wire services information products have to be sold through Xinhua. The final comment is the most important and timely.




..."This is bad for China" [former Wall Street Journal Beijing Bureau chief James] McGregor said. "It doesn't matter if it's politically sensitive news or a rumor, it's information that can move markets. That's valuable to Chinese traders as well. They need the same information as everybody else..."

---The Washington Post, September 12, 2006


Question: What are the choices for a state-controlled news agency that wants to make some money while at the same time ensuring its stories toe the government line? It's a tough situation. And it is the predicament of China's Xinhua news agency.

Answer: Play to your strengths. Set yourself up as both regulator and competitor. Take a cut of the earnings of foreign information providers.

---Jane Macartney, September 12, 2006


The Xinhua News Agency has for a long time been the owner of a dying business model. The agency's power was its monopoly over wire service distribution in China, but its ability to retain this monopoly has been slowly weakening as China's media organizations build political power of their own...

---Silicon Hutong, September 10, 2006


Experts agree: Xinhua wants the cashola

---Imagethief, September 13, 2006


Xinhua has powerful friends. Tian Congming, its president, was a close colleague of President Hu when Mr Hu was Communist party secretary in Tibet.

---Mure Dickie in The Financial Times, September 14, 2006


"The China government will ensure the freedom and the rights of the foreign news media and foreign financial information agencies operating in China," [Wen Jiaboa] said at his press conference today...

... The main point is the rights of the Chinese media, and the Chinese people. What about them?

Why does Mr Wen reckon they are second-class people, to be denied the privileges (or is that common decency?) granted to foreigners like me?

---Richard Spencer , September 13, 2006


China media rules condemned

---Washington Times, September 12, 2006


Activists criticize China's media controls as threat to society, Olympics coverage

---International Herald Tribune, September 12, 2006


Finally, there's this:

From time immemorial Chinese newspapers ... have been little more than mere official publications over which the Government has always exercised a rigid censorship. It is gratifying to notice, however, that the power of the Press is beginning to make itself felt even in China, and there can be no doubt that newspapers will become increasingly an important factor in ... affairs, moral, religious and political...

...What has been done is utterly insignificant compared with what will be accomplished when freedom of speech and of the Press are fully accorded. As a recent Chinese writer says, “a free Press would become the people’s most effective weapon against public outrages and political intrigues. It would be a deadly weapon against corruption, a guillotine over the heads of unscrupulous officials, the relentless foe of oppressors of the poor and a powerful factor for the proper administration of national affairs.”

---North China Herald, July 26, 1907


The North China Herald was an English newspaper published in Shanghai from 1850 to 1941. The extract quoted above could have been written yesterday.


Thanks to the scholar of Moganshan for finding and typing up the North China Herald editorial piece, which you can read in full below.

71_71086_newspaper.jpg
Image from CCTV - link below
A Free Press for China
North China Herald July 26, 1907

Less than four years have elapsed since the sedition trial popularly known as the Supao case was heard in the Mixed Court at Shanghai. The case at the time aroused considerable interest, not only in China, but in every civilized land as well and was the occasion of the Prime Minister making a statement in the House of Commons. The nature of the offense for which the seven Chinese were arrested and put on trial may be gathered form the telegraphic dispatch, alleged to have been received by the Shanghai Taotai from the Nanking Viceroy, which read as follows: “Among the newspapers in Shanghai the Supao is the most insolent and fearless. It is to be stopped and punished.”

Prior to this case there had been but few indications that the Chinese authorities were very much concerned with what was published from time to time in the newspapers, which were then beginning to exert an influence over the minds of the people. Since that time, however, the number of newspapers in the Chinese language has increased at a phenomenal rate. Some of them have attained to a considerable skill and ability in the way they are conducted, whilst others, on the contrary, managed by unqualified and irresponsible persons, are liable to do more harm than good by prejudicing the minds of officials and other against journalistic enterprise. At a case tried at the Mixed Court recently, the Court, in ordering the confiscation of one of these petty newspapers, remarked that it was of opinion that there were too many small newspapers in Shanghai.

The leading article published on May 11 in the Shun Pao, under the heading of “The Consequences of the Tramways after Operation,” (which led to a Chinese being charged recently in the Mixed Court with the publication of a seditious libel), the main object of which seemed to be to create discontent and disaffection amongst the Chinese residents of Shanghai, and to promote feelings of hostility and ill will between different classes of people in the foreign settlement, is an illustration of the harm that may be done by those who are unfitted to exercise properly the power conferred on them by the freedom of the Press.

The freedom of speech and the Press has ever been regarded in Western lands as one of the principle bulwarks against tyranny and oppression. In the Untied States a law incorporated in the Constitution guarantees this to the people, whilst in Great Britain Lord Ellenborough, one of England’s most eminent jurists, and Sir William Blackstone, the great law writer, have shown by their writings how large a measure of freedom is enjoyed by the people in this connexion. It must not be forgotten, however, that the Anglo-Saxon race has, by a long process of education, been fitted to be entrusted with this great privilege which obviously carries with it correspondingly great responsibilities. To grant such a privilege with all that it implies at a moment’s notice, as it were, to a people who have never gone through the indispensable preliminary stages would not be likely to produce very happy results. The late governor of Anhui, who had the reputation of being very anti-foreign in all his ways, apparently had some inkling of this truth, when he repudiated aspersion and maintained that he was all for progress, but a gradual progress such as the intellect and character of the people demanded.

The systematic education of the people in order that they may be capable of using wisely the power to be entrusted in them is what is needed at this present juncture. That the Chinese government is beginning to understand this is evidenced by the efforts that are now being made gradually to prepare the people for the granting of a Constitution and Parliament in the near future. The indifference, so characteristic of the Chinese, they have always exhibited to their national affairs – confining their attention to their own local and selfish interests – is being overcome in some measure by the increased educational facilities afforded them. In this way they are qualifying themselves to wield the power and to undertake the responsibilities which necessarily devolve upon those who enjoy the privileges of free speech and a free Press.

Chinese writers, at the present time, are complaining that thus far the Press has accomplished little or nothing of very great value by reason of its being subject to the whims and manipulations of officialdom. For this reason it is still far from being in the true sense of the word the mouthpiece of the people. These remarks apply more particularly to newspapers published outside the treaty ports. From time immemorial Chinese newspapers, if such they may be called, from the “Peking Gazette” downwards, have been little more than mere official publications over which the Government has always exercised a rigid censorship.

It is gratifying to notice, however, that the power of the Press is beginning to make itself felt even in China, and there can be no doubt that newspapers will become increasingly an important factor in the affairs, moral, religious and political, of the Empire. What has been accomplished through their instrumentality in other hands we may reasonably expect to see accomplished in this land also. Only a beginning has thus far been made, and the thin edge of the wedge has been inserted. What has been done is utterly insignificant compared with what will be accomplished when freedom of speech and of the Press are fully accorded. As a recent Chinese writer says, “a free Press would become the people’s most effective weapon against public outrages and political intrigues. It would be a deadly weapon against corruption, a guillotine over the heads of unscrupulous officials, the relentless foe of oppressors of the poor and a powerful factor for the proper administration of national affairs.”

For more about the North China Herald:
There are currently 1 Comments for Xinhua's new rules; foreigners' old complaints.

Comments on Xinhua's new rules; foreigners' old complaints

"Why does Mr Wen reckon they are second-class people, to be denied the privileges (or is that common decency?) granted to foreigners like me?"
---Richard Spencer , September 13, 2006

Chinese people know what they are getting from the government run media. And they all know better not to believe every word in the propaganda. I doubt the same can be said about many westerners. Transformation to free press takes time and Chinese can do without such patronizing comments from the west.

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