Foreign media on China

Western media manhunt

The Beijing offices of CNN and The Times of London are at the receiving end of Chinese style Internet manhunts: angry netizens are posting hateful comments on various websites, with some going so far as to make death threats by phone.

CNN has been targeted primarily, it seems, because of the Chinese blogger postings currently collected at and their own well-known brand name. The Times has been targeted after the newspaper published an editorial by Simon Barnes that starts thusly:

Is this the Genocide Olympics? There are already people claiming that this year’s Games, to be held in Beijing, are a rerun of the 1936 Olympics in Berlin – the Games that were a glorification of Hitler and Nazism; by extension a glorification of a genocidal regime.

The anger is misdirected. The Beijing-based journalists of CNN have no control over what the station does with their reporting, and the Beijing bureau's reporting is not what has been criticized. The Beijing correspondent of The Times has no control over what the newspaper runs in its editorial columns.

While the anger on the part of young Chinese netizens is not being orchestrated by the Chinese government, the foreign ministry and XInhua are rather enjoying the whole affair. Yesterday there was a press briefing by Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang.

A Danwei source commented on Qin's response when asked why CNN was not invited on the journalist junket to Tibet.

Qin said “CNN has paid special attention to the events in Lhasa and given the events special treatment.” I could tell he was smirking when he said it, and apparently the Xinhua transcriber could too because he put 'special' in quotation marks."

The Xinhua transcript of Qin's briefing is here.

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There are currently 31 Comments for Western media manhunt.

Comments on Western media manhunt

The anger is misdirected.

indeed it is, Jeremy.

but reasoning with zealots is like negotiating with terrorists: each is a de facto invitation to a further offense.

this applies to all persons, both chinese and otherwise.

"The anger is misdirected" . What a prejudicial opinion again !!

If this comments on Chinese netizens action is rational in your logic, what would be your comments on those overseas Xizhang separatists' anger when they did many insulting things to Chinese diplomatic offices in the western countries ? And these countries consider themselves representing Fair, Democracy, and Equality, but they actually just give one side chance to vent their anger.

Double standard is what your so -called free countries' always take toward PRC. Chinese people are fed up with your double standard !!

No matter where that Mr.Simon Barnes' dirty comments on Beijing Olypic Game is published, it is absolutely malicious provocation to Chinese people. Looking into the history, China has been so many times robbed and occupied by armed Europen bandits organizied by their governments, and China has never invaded any other country.

How dare a formal bloody invader, who still holds so many treasure robbed from China and shamelessly show in its national museum, compare peace -loving China with Nazism ?? Who is Nazism ?? History tells the truth !

Please stop mislead your home people and the world, which only builds up hate between peoples.


>>"The anger is misdirected" . What a prejudicial opinion again !!

If you read Danwei's recent coverage, you'll find plenty of postings that suggest Western coverage of Tibet problems is hypocritical. I agree that it is ridiculous to compare Beijing in 2008 to the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany. I also agree that the West often takes a hypocritical attitude towards China. A small example not related to Tibet, a little something we posted today:

"What I find a bit reprehensible is the tendency of certain Western voices to … raising concerns about China’s attempt to get into the African market because it is a bit hypocritical for Western states to be concerned about how China is approaching Africa when they have had centuries of relations with Africa, starting with slavery and continuing to the present day with exploitation and cheating." (link)

Western media's double standards: that was not my point. The anger is misdirected because it was not the Beijing offices of either CNN or The Times that did the things that have upset the netizens. The Beijing staff of CNN and The Times have not been the ones guilty of double standards.

So if your comment means that you think that because a writer for The Times made a tasteless comparison in a British newspaper, it is fair for that newspaper's Beijing correspondent to receive death threats, then you and I have nothing to talk about.

If your intention is not to defend death threats, then may I suggest you read what I wrote more carefully.

But Li Huang, let me be quite clear, if you come back here and defend such death threats, then I will not hesitate to give your IP address, which is logged on our server, to the relevant authorities.

There is a Chinese saying:Dogs will always eat shit (gou gai bu le chi shi. Ultra nationalistic Chinese (ji duan min zu zhu yi fen zi) will always react strongly to anything reasonable or not from foreigners....there it goes again!
Tibetans have not asked for total independence, they just want more autonomy,respect for their religion and traditions,be treated with respect as human beings and not be colonised and overun by hurds of Han Chinese on their Holy territory. is that asking too much?

I agree that the anger mentioned in your post is misdirected, but on the other hand it's astonishing to see the mainstream media here in the West still refuses to acknowledge that the violence in Tibet belonged mostly to the rioters and then condemn the rioters. Sure, Chinese policy in Tibet should bear some responsibilities. But just because many Tibetans perceive (rightly or wrongly) themselves as being oppressed by the Chinese government, do they have the right to violantly attack innocent civilians (both Han and Muslim Chinese)? If one's answer is yes than Al Qaeda probably also had the right to attack civilians too on 911, as they also feel (rightly or wrongly) that Arabs/Muslims are being oppressed by the US/the West.

To understand why the (Western) media are biased on Tibet, Andrew Shleifer of Harvard and Matthew Gentzkow and Jesse M Shapiro of U. Chicago have very good economic models that can explain this. Very different models, but the same basic idea: media slant their reports to cater to readers' prior belief/opinions. Anyone with some intellectual curiosity should read their fine papers: "The Market for News" (American Economic Review, 2005) and "Media Bias and Reputation" (Journal of Polical Economy, 2006).

Of course, this is not to deny the Chinese government (as well as Dalai Lama's exile government) are doing propaganda. And the clumsiness and stupidity of the Chinese government in doing PR is astonishing this time as always. But we know this all along. The problem is so many people in the West don't realize that the "free media" in the West are not necessarily telling the truth either, and they fail so miserably this time, collectively. And yet they still feel so self-righteous, as always. The Economist magazine, being the only Western outlet present in Tibet during the riots, had the chance of standing out from the crowd and report more objectively than the rest, but it has largely failed in this regard too. A shame no doubt.

"hen I will not hesitate to give your IP address, which is logged on our server, to the relevant authorities."
Yet another threat. While I disagree with the death threat, I don't think this will help either.


The anger is misdirected because they targeted the Beijing office instead of the home office in the States? That's all too natural: Are you expecting them to pay long distance? :-)

The Chinese response seems a bit overflowing, or at least has a level of hostility disproportional to the supposed offense. It almost makes them seem more interested in retaliation than in reconciliation.

Either way, both sides are being excessively testy over this media matter, when the real issue was always, and still is, the welfare of Tibet and its inhabitants.

The Chinese zealots are certainly quick to jump at the shortcomings of foreign media, but they have conveniently forgotten that this is no proof that the Chinese themselves have nothing to do with the Lhasa incident. But beyond a weapon to be wielded against dissidents, 'truth' is not so important to these people; Tibet remaining as part of China, and 'pride of the motherland' is all they care about.

An oft-repeated but highly immature argument is to claim that not invading foreign countries equates to peace-loving. Should China be judged solely by its civil war record in its looong history, the Chinese are simply warmongering people who do not hesistate to spill blood at the drop of a hat. More Chinese have fallen at the hands of their own pple than the Japanese etc, but this is not something they want to remember too well.

Tibetans have not asked for total independence, they just want more autonomy,respect for their religion and traditions,be treated with respect as human beings and not be colonised and overun by hurds of Han Chinese on their Holy territory. is that asking too much?

Tibet was a slave society before 1951. What do you think about the video by National Geographic Channel "Inferno under Dalai Lama"?
Why not go to Tibet yourself to see what changed during 57 years?
I guess you know nothing about Dalai's statement to China Central Goverment. What Dalai wants is not only the "little" Tibet, but also 1/3 land of China--parts of Sichuan, Yunnan, Qinghai, Gansu province. Even there is less than 2% Tibetan in some places. Further more, Dalai "asked" all non-Tibetan leave these places which they lived for over 20 centures and called home.
Dalai is innocent in your oppion? So please tell me why Dalai is so friendly with terrorist and Nazi.

Open your eyes. Thank you.

From the post: "The Beijing correspondent of The Times has no control over what the newspaper runs in its editorial columns."

That's a pretty weak argument. I originally thought that you meant the anger should be directed at Chinese authorities that have been deliberately diluting and suppressing local Tibetan culture for years. If so, I think you could make a stronger case. But if you mean that anger should be directed at the newspaper home offices... that's very Enron-ish, very scape-goatish.

"So please tell me why Dalai is so friendly with terrorist and Nazi"


My grandfather and his comrades were on rather decent terms with some of the Nazi guards while they spent time in POW camps in WW2.

@C. Stanley
Tibetans have not asked for total independence, they just want more autonomy,respect for their religion and traditions,be treated with respect as human beings and not be colonised and overun by hurds of Han Chinese on their Holy territory. is that asking too much?
Don't you think it is strange that the Chinese government refuses to give them more autonomy if that is all they want? respect for their religion and traditions, being treated with respect as human beings and not being colonized by Han Chinese? Don't you think meeting such low needs is nothing difficult? And yes, that is not asking too much. But why the Chinese government don't give them that rather than invest so much money in Tibet every year? Simply because it's evil? Being evil and not doing any good to both sides? Or because it is stupid?
Neither. That's because they(Tibetans) want more than what you listed above. You should look more deep into Dalai's "middle way approach" rather than satisfied with a abstract "more autonomy".


"Should China be judged solely by its civil war record in its looong history, the Chinese are simply warmongering people who do not hesistate to spill blood at the drop of a hat."

True. But the west still has a lot to teach the Chinese about wargomgering. The west is leaps and bounds ahead of the Chinese in that regard.

So I take it that today's Chinese now get their history lessons solely via YouTube??? Still, I guess it's better than the crap they're fed through uncle CCP and the "official" version.

To Hunxuer:
I teach foreigners Chinese language and history in college. I can justify my words by what I know from books and internet stuffs in both Chinese and English. Plese stop insulting others in such a childish way.

By asking for your insight on the Dalai Lama's "Middle Way Approach" I want to know what is so wrong in the Dalai Lama's
campaign to seek a genuine autonomy for his homeland? What is so wrong with a desire for genuine self-rule for the people of Tibet within the PRC? Why see evil & plots under every bed?

I will try to explain the history and politics issue in English. Sorry for my Chinglish.

First: history and political structure

In 1653, Qing Emperor of China offically gave the title Dalai to the head of Gelug Schools of Buddhism in Tibet. Since then any reincarnation aka successor of Dalai has to be approved and confirmed by Chinese central government.
Before 1951, most Tibetans were slaves belonged to aristocrats and Lamas. Dalai lama lost his privilege of slave.
In 1959, 14th Dalai and his slave-lord alliance fled to India.

"...the traditional political structure of Tibet is theocracy, with the Dalai Lama at the center. He unites religious and secular power — so when we are talking about the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, we are taking about choosing a head of state. It is strange to hear self-described democracy advocates who denounce Chinese persecution of followers of the Dalai Lama — a non-democratically elected leader if there ever was one."
--How China Got Religion By SLAVOJ ZIZEK (nytimes)

Second: so-called "peaceful plan"

In 1987 Dalai Lama's "Peaceful Plan", he "asked" for not only Tibet but also parts of four provinces(nearly 1/3 land of China). There are at least four nationalities in the area. All non-Tibetans must leave these places according to Dalai's demand, although they have lived there for hundreds of years.

Actually Dalai Lama negotiated with China central government for six times since then, but he adhered to it.

What a "sincere" plan!

It's nothing about "democracy" or "autonomy". Dalai Lama and some other Lamas missed their privilege in Tibet 50 years ago. But it'd gone forever and will never be back.

I am tired of the biased and hypocritical western media. The fake photos and vicious articles make people hate each other. My all Chinese friends lost their respect and trust to the western media. I just do what a teacher can do--tell my students what happened in the hitory.

If anyone is really interested in Tibet and Dalai Lama, try some serious paper and interview, not the biased cliche.

Friendly Feudalism: The Tibet Myth by Michael Parenti
Dalai Lama and 9/11 (An Interview with Victor and Victoria Trimondi)

It makes perfect sense to me that Chinese would protest the Beijing offices of CNN and the NYT. I am not sure what the specific reporting out of the Beijing bureau's has to do with it. They are protesting the coverage in general.

I don't agree with death threats of course. But I know that Olympic committee officials are very likely receiving threatening and hateful emails from Americans who view the Tibet crisis and the Olympics as an opportunity to vent. There is a significant email effort being launched on some 'liberal' political blogs in the US to exploit the Olympics. Judging by the blog posts, I would not bet that these emails reasoned, calm, or rational, either. The motivation, as in this case, is mostly sincere -- but the expression unfortunately intemperate.

Anyway, both CNN and the NYT can be fairly criticized for their coverage of Tibet. Heck I criticize them for their coverage on US domestic issues ALL THE TIME. I don't imagine their coverage of China to be beyond reproach.

The Chinese are right to be upset at the factual errors in western reporting, which has not helped matters at all. You can file it under 'might as well be true' journalism.


To complain that the western media including BBC have been prejudicially reported this issue is not just about some pictures that have been revised. It's really about, as Jon says, the coverage of all sides of the story. Unfortunately I can only see one side of the story especially when it comes to the traditional Tibetan culture, which is something like "cultural genocide" taking place in Tibet repeatedly by western reporters. When the Tibetan Chinese are using digital cameras and cell phones, drinking running water, living in small towns and big cities instead of nomadically traveling through the Tibetan Plateau, Tibetan youngsters wearing jeans instead of traditional costumes, it seems to me that the western culture is really responsible to the fade of traditional Tibetan culture.

On the one hand, admittedly there was a serious repression upon Tibetan Buddhism during the Cultural Revolution, which has been constantly covered and repeatedly reported by the western media; on the other hand, from the end of 70s there's been a heavy subsidies and reconstruction in order to restore monasteries and the life-style of both monks and ordinary Tibetans, which I have never seen from The western media. Likewise, there has been no coverage of the life style of Tibetan monks especially that of the Dalai Lama before his escape in 1959 when he was the absolute ruling master with a hierarchy ranked monks over ordinary Tibetans and their miserable lives under the Dalai's rule. The most frequent word used by the west to describe the history of Tibet and its traditional medieval theocracy is "mysterious". Well, you can’t use "mysterious" to cover up the dark side of the traditional Tibetan culture all the time. You should also let people know the evil history of Theocracy in Tibet under The Dalai Lama's rule. Ironically the only side we see and hear from the west is the repeated propaganda "cultural genocide going on conducted by the Chinese government".

This is just a start of my list, which goes on and on, to show how selectively blind the western coverage is. Fortunately a Chinese student has made a clip to reveal the shadow of the Dalai Lama on Youtube. Check it out if you really want to improve your report and try to cover all sides of the story:

I am not sure if the video is fully based on solid evidence, yet as far as I know, some of the issues it reveals are true.

@C. Stanley

If you know something about the negotiations that have been arranged many times during these years between Beijing and the representatives of the Dalai Lama, you would understand that it's very unlikely that an agreement could be achieved between the two sides.

Firstly the requirement from the representatives are not only unrealistic, they are ridiculous. One of these unachievable requirements is the withdrawal of all PLA troops from Tibet. If this is the precondition of a peaceful agreement, then I have to say the fantasy of the representatives will never come true since no country will agree to withdraw troops from its territory. Even if the Dalai Lama calls this a more autonomous situation, he can stop daydreaming because it seems to me, an implication of independence, which is also a revelation presenting the Dalai Lama has no sincerity to achieve any agreement even though he claims he does.

Secondly, concerning the Greater Tibetan Area, which including not only Today’s Tibetan Autonomous Region, but also Sichuan, Qinghai, and Gansu province. The territory requirement of the Greater Tibetan Area which accounts for one third of the total territory of the PRC today is so ridiculously large that the CCP will risk being thrown out of power by its own people if it signs such agreement.

I respect the Dalai Lama as a spiritual leader of the Tibetans and have been watching his news for a long times. Through his talks I suppose it was unlikely that he was the person behind the whole riots both inside and outside of China. My serious concern is though, despite the Dalai Lama wants to talk peacefully with Beijing, the younger generations in the government in exile don't share the same ideal with him, which could well turn to be devastating consequences for both the Tibetans and the local Han and Hui residents during post-Dalai days.

From the riots and protests out there, which happened so synchronously, it seems to me that the mob was well organized together. The Dalai Lama claimed that he was unaware of what would happen in Lhasa before those riots took place, which seems to be true yet alarming. It could also be a sign that he's been marginalized by younger generations in the government in exile and has lost control of them.

Beijing needs highly sophisticated solutions to solve the problem peacefully. However I wonder Beijing is just waiting for the Dalai Lama to pass away. Hopefully Beijing will come up with a wise solution to settle the conflict between the Tibetan Chinese and Han Chinese.


Fine, but what do you know, or have to say about human rights in Tibet since 1949?

Let's put the West on the couch. The Chinese are often criticized for not "coming to terms" with the Cultural Revolution, Tibet, etc. Fair enough. Westerners have never squared their democratic values with the genocide that made it possible. Says I.

I have special sympathy for goody-too-shoes Westerners who on some level realize that their present good fortune is the direct result of extremely successful "demographic agression", and not really because of their wonderful selves. It's a painful understanding.

It's a cliche to say that the incessant human rights trope eminating from the West is hypocritical. I think it's far more unhinged and sad than mere hypocricy. It's an attempt to expurgate historical guilt by a people who lack the courage to do so effectively - like say allowing open settlement of Sudanese or Iraqis in Nebraska (that would be effective!).

There might be many unhinged Chinese who never faced down the ugliness of some parts of their history. Some spend their time on bulletin boards dripping bile.

So what does an unhinged Westerner look like? Someone who never face the truth that an Indian in the grave equals a house in the burbs and a vote at the ballot. It looks like someone who thinks Democracy with a capital D, and Freedom with a capital F can be taught with an economic embargo, a military invasion.... or an Olympic boycott. Measure that backfire 95% of the time.

Without the courage to offer up any effective solutions, I'm afraid unhinged Western blather about freedom or democracy will only be ignored. As it should be.

That's just more of the same old tedium that says "Americans shot Indians. So there." Yes, and do you actually care about "the Indians" or are they just a convenient rhetorical device for you?
The Native Americans are still there, some getting on with things, some mighty pissed off with unresolved historical grievances, and some mired in the legacy of those injustices. Just like the Tibetans are and will be in 50 years. But do you care about that, or are you only interested in tilting at Western windmills?


I care about open borders to relieve the world's Malthusian pressures. Indian's, for all intents and purposes, are no more.

Do you care about real solutions to global poverty? Or pinging at perceived abuses without offering up any solutions other than "don't do what we did."


"Indian's, for all intents and purposes, are no more."
That's simply wrong, and more than a little racist.

"Do you care about real solutions to global poverty? Or pinging at perceived abuses without offering up any solutions other than "don't do what we did."

Both are important. It is important to examine the history of current problems (from all parts of the world).

I'm not quite sure about the relevance of your open borders comment

OK, there are some left. They were 100% of the population. Now they are 0.9%. I'm not blaming you. You didn't kill any (I think). But you have received all the advantages of a successful genocide and I want you to share.

The open borders argument is a challenge to the West who openly migrated to relieve their own population pressures (natives be damned) while denying it to most of the world.

The only real solution to problems like Darfur (a problem of climate change caused by you know who) is mass migration of a large segment of their population - like the Irish during the potatoe famine.


Actually I'm not an American. But I do live in a country with a dirty colonial past. Most people in the world do, in fact everyone if we recognize that it's not only Europeans who are capable of colonization.

With regard to migration, I'm an immigrant myself and much in favour of it, with the caveat that it can be a difficult process for everyone involved, and that respect for natives (and migrants) and genuine inter-community dialog is important to prevent things going horribly wrong (as they have done at times in many places including America, Europe and Tibet).

The "caveat" is often overblown compared to living in grinding poverty. Try it, you won't like it.

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