China: Press, In Contrast

In the recently high-profiled case of First Financial Daily vs Foxconn, over the former's controversial news report on the latter's alleged Apple Ipod's sweatshop. The dramatical end to the case, in which the two issued a joint statement focussing on mutual understanding and “building harmonious society,” was generally considered as an example of how the press in China, theoretically independent and outspoken, was intimidated and compromised in the face of powerful corporation.

Is our press, including websites, newspapers and TV networks, only a timid coward, waiting for instruction and orders from the government on what and how to report? When national sensation s, celebrities gossip and overheated patriotism mix together, stirring up the “journalist's instinct”, that's another story. The press will never hesitate a minute to follow up such a story without any authorization from the authorities. The reasons? The press simply wants to make money and the readers want that story.

The latest victim of such press war is Meng Guangmei, a TV host and former model. The strange point is that the press, stained with the habits of its American colleagues, have named this incident “Toiletgate“. Meng appeared on a Taiwan TV network talk show and commented on her experience in Mainland China, mentioning some toilets near Tiananmen Square where she saw a hundred pale “asses”. ( video here) Sun Bin has a nice and insightful post about this.

The Chinese Internet is always replete with uproar, perplexing sentiments and hullabaloo, especially on the forums and blogs, given the overwhelming popularity of internet man-hunter effort. Many people feel that the spreading of online self-publishing technologies and its anonymous nature makes such phenomenon possible. But as the esteemed Chinese IT blogger Keso said, the press play an infamous role in inciting overheated nationalism and the social group dubbed as “Angry Youth“, with his latest blog post titled “Angry Youth, Made In China “.

[in translation]

我一直认为,民原本不暴,青原本不愤,但架不住媒体总喜欢耸人听闻,被媒体一忽悠,民就成了”暴民”,青就成了”愤青”。这一点在网络上表现得尤其明显,凡涉及民族主义、道德宣判等主题,往往很容易发展成”网络暴民”事件,而在这些事件背后,总能看到这些媒体的不光彩的影子。他们用肮脏的手,操纵着所谓的 “民意”

I always think that the people are not mobs and the youths are not angry. But as the media weigh in, with their usual exaggeration aimed at deliberately creating a sensation, the people become mobs and the youths became angry. This can be obviously reflected on the Internet, especially when the topic involves nationalism and moral judgement, which can easily become an “Internet mob” incident. The dishonored shadow of the press can be always found behind the curtain. They use their filthy hands to manipulate the so-called “public opinion”


The latest episode is about Meng Guangmei, an ordinary Taiwan TV host, who almost would be the victim of such “public opinion”. First, there is one leading report of a local tabloid, with garbled and inflaming stories seeking to take advantage of the controversial topic of ” sneering at the Mandarin people” to incite hatred and resentment. It also issued a national fatwa, which was maliciously directed by some major websites and thus turned into the carnival of mobs and vagabonds, while the tabloid has gained national influence overnight.


The press dare not to be the watchdog against the government and companies. They sometimes act as timid sons and well-behaved grandsons of these “ancestors”. When encountering weak women like Meng Guangmei and Zhao Wei, they instantly feel that they are the fathers. They exert their primitive evil influence on these weak groups time and again, and their best weapon i s nationalism. It's a vicious dog fed by the press, waiting for the master's order.


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