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Newsweek and Time: a tale of two China cover stories


While Western commentators, including yours truly, love to get excited about censorship and freedom of expression in China, the future happiness of a fifth of the world's population is likely to depend on a much more basic right: the definition and protection of private property, and especially the when it comes to usage and ownership of land in rural areas.

In which light it is worth comparing recent cover stories of the Asian editions of Time and Newsweek.

The Newsweek cover story about bloggers, by Sarah Schafer, is not bad: Blogger Nation: A proliferation of voices is slowly dismantling the status quo in China.

The cover is reproduced above; note the cover lines: Beijing vs. bloggers.

It's a shame that whoever wrote and designed that cover decided to go for such sensationalistism.

When you consider that Massage Milk, the star blogger of the piece, continues to says that the recent shutdown of his blog was a joke directed against Western media, you realize that it's not exactly Beijing vs. bloggers here.

It seems that very, very few people are blogging for revolution or radical change in China.

The real revolution?

Time's China zeitgeist cover tackles a different issue: the problems of the rural poor. The story, by Hannah Beech, is titled Seeds of fury.

The basic premise is stated in the last line:

"The entire village is doomed anyway. We have no money, no job, no land. There's nothing left to be scared of." If angry farmers truly lose their sense of fear, it may ultimately be Beijing that is running scared.

There's plenty more on rural problems in the links below.

Links and Sources
China Media Timeline
Major media events over the last three decades
Danwei Model Workers
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From 2008
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From the Vault
Classic Danwei posts
+ Culture and corporate propaganda in Soho Xiaobao (2007.11): Mid-2007 issues of Soho Xiaobao (SOHO小报), illustrating the complicated identity of in-house magazines run by real estate companies.
+ Internet executives complain about excessive Net censorship (2010.03): Internet executives complain about excessive Net censorship at an officially sanctioned meeting in Shenzhen.
+ Crowd-sourced cheating on the 2010 gaokao (2010.06): A student in Sichuan seeks help with the ancient Chinese section of this year's college entrance exam -- while the test is going on!
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