China: Dialogue with Anti-CNN

On Monday (11 April), Rebecca MacKinnon, Global Voices Online co-founder and former CNN journalist, was interviewed by core members of Anti-CNN website.

This is a significant event as the Anti-CNN website was launched to counter the western media's (represented by CNN) reports on the Tibetan unrest and crackdown in May last year. As it has been pointed out by Rebecca during the interview that many people regard Anti-CNN a community of 50 cent for spreading Chinese government's propaganda. This interview can give people a glimpse of this community of patriotic young people.

The conversation was mainly about western media “impartial” and “bias” report on news related with China, including Tibet issue, Olympic torch relay protest. Rebecca has written a detailed summary in Rconversation. She expects to see more interaction between the Anti-CNN community with the outside world:

My purpose in doing this interview was primarily to understand the Anti-CNN community better as part of my book research. Communities of enthusiastic, patriotic young people like the Anti-CNN volunteers are part and parcel of the phenomenon I call cyber-tarianism.

It will be very interesting to see how the Anti-CNN website continues to evolve. Rao Jin (founder of the website) has plans to develop an English-language platform – with a less provocative, more friendly name – through which his community can engage in dialogue and debate with the English-speaking world. I think it's great that they're looking to expand their dialogue and engage with the world. It's important that the outside world understand that China's patriotic youth, like young Republicans or young Tories, feel that they are acting on their own belief systems and get angry when characterized as brainwashed puppets. It will be fascinating to see how the outside world reacts to these efforts, and how the Anti-CNN website administrators handle conversations that foreigners want to have with them involving events, people, or points of view that Chinese websites are generally required to censor in order to avoid being shut down.

In the Anti-CNN website, the organizer has transcribed in brief the conversation in the forum and here is a selection of carry on discussion:

happy: 看完了,至少代表了一个理性的国外记者的成熟看法,当然,我听得出来她对一个没有自由,特别是没有舆论自由国家的失望以及不满,当然分寸都是恰到好处,可以通过网络审查聊起来。


happy: I read it (the interview) through. She represents a mature and rational foreign journalist viewpoint. Of course, I get a sense that she is disappointed with a country which is in lack of freedom, in particular freedom of expression. And she handles that quite well by raising the Internet censorship issue.

Moreover, western ideas of independent thought, freedom of speech and rational thinking that differentiate means and ends are implicit in her answer. These are something we missed in our culture. This kind of conversation is very meaningful and concrete, a lot more fruitful than 100 items in CCTV news broadcast.

superstar: 感谢Rebecca。相对来说,对中国的看法比较客观。


superstar: I want to express my thanks to Rebecca. Comparatively speaking, she is more objective in her viewpoint on China.

However, there is nothing new in her answer. Westerners share similar view on China, we have to solve our own developmental problem and should not care too much on others’ opinion.
My feeling is that the main audience of CNN's cropped photo and carefully processed news are Mainland Chinese, westerners are onlookers. Some with good intention may read it with sympathy, some with vice intention may take advantage of it.

In reality, there is more and more communication between China and the West. In some aspects, China is being self-defensive. However, China will gain more confidence when it continues to develop and there will be less and less double standard judgment towards China. We can embrace the world then.

ry1808: 中国的媒体给我的感觉是漂亮话说得太多,主旋律过于旺盛(当然现在有所改善,但是还是不够),但是刻意颠倒黑白的事情并不多见。国内媒体对于自己不便说的事情一般采取噤声的态度,也就是回避,根本不说。而西方媒体往往会自己另外编一个故事,让这个故事更符合自己的价值观。

ry1801: My feeling is that Chinese media like to speak in beautifying language with a leading melody (there are some improvement but not adequate). However, it seldom turns black into white. They just avoid talking about sensitive issues. As for Western media, they would compose a story in order to fit into their value system.


四月社區初中一年級:AC is too moderate in the interview and let her (Rebecca) get around sensitive matter. Moreover, she hasn't acknowledge the western moral decadence in issues like Jingjing being attacked by thugs (in Paris), anti-Chinese craze in the West and the disrespectful attitude of western media towards public opinion in China (such as Beijing Olympic). Their responses are against their own preaching of “human rights” and morality. It shows her pretentious and double standard attitude. She still upholds her moral superiority: whenever questions about western media bias were raised, she would mention the negative aspect of Chinese media. These are separate issues. In the case of Chinese media, it never claims to be the world's most objective and fair media. She knows Chinese, she should know that our media, from the mainstream printed media to the Internet, we enjoy a lot of freedom to criticize the government. I hope that AC will not fall into such kind of western trap anymore in the future, giving these kind of people an opportunity to gather information for their books and speak as a “Chinese expert”, repeating western arrogance and bias views towards China. To be frank, I am very disappointed.

Aircraft: 建议AC把这位记者在访谈后用英文写的一篇文章翻译出来。她的文章已经被美国人放在网上来批评中国人了。此人的文章将网友的提问断章取意,还是不断重复自己已经形成的偏见,吹捧达赖。

Aircraft: I suggest AC translate the article she had written after the interview to Chinese. Her article had been used to criticize Chinese people. Her article is very impartial in quoting netizens’ questions and keeps repeating her bias, upholding Dalai Lama.

Hu Yong writes a blog post commenting on the difficulty in this communication:



The communication happened between two different kind of people with two different modes of thought: one mode uses the word “you (in plural form)” as if the others shared the same pace and same voice or even the same conspiracy; the other mode use the word “I”, in the case like “I would not say Chinese are like this or that, because every one is different in their view, interest and motive”. The communication also happened between two different political cultures. in one culture, after the Primere received a shoe, it said “This kind of despicable tactic cannot stop the friendship between China and U.K! The progress of humanity and World's harmony cannot be stopped by any force!” In the other culture, after their President received a shoe, it said “I can tell you that the shoe size is 10… using this method for attracting attention shows what one can do in a free society”. In addition, the communication also happened between two discursive contexts, in one context, as a result of the asymmetrical regulation and control, pro-government and pro-mainstream voices are much louder, while in the other context, it values the powerless social group's voices more than the ruling class and powerful social group.

This is an extremely difficult communication. I have to express my respect to Rebecca. It takes much courage and wisdom to have this kind of cross-cultural, cross-generational and cross-paradigm communication. It gives us an opportunity to observe Chinese young people's education and mode of thinking and provides us with an example for future dialogue with them.


  • Moroccan

    CNN is biased against any nation or people who challenges US hegemony. CNN has done its part in promoting the invasion of Iraq and in glorifying the destruction of Iraq by the US government (like other older media outlets did in other wars). CNN should be regarded as an extension of this violent hegemony that is trying to impose its standards and views on the entire planet. Average Americans have no clue of how it is out there outside the borders of America: it is the media like CNN that shapes their views and promotes a sense of superiority and arrogance among average people who otherwise would not think that way.

    Do not watch CNN unless it is for learning about internal news from the US.

    Learn to watch news from other countries to learn about those countries.

    Do not let the imperialist CNN shape your view on other countries of people.

  • ourlives

    Rebecca MacKinnon is just hypercritical and hypocritical.

  • knights

    I agree with Moroccan, do NOT trust CNN, it’s a creepy new network that lies, cheats, and propagates dirty usa government agenda to hurt other people and nations such as trying to separate the Chinese brothers and sisters within China (hint: beijing olympics.)
    I don’t hate tibetan Chinese, I think we should take care of our brothers and sisters, but I do NOT trust USA nor CNN anymore after their lies.

    To be a moral person, do not be too CNN
    supporter of Anti-CNN . . ..

  • Omnifoo

    Glad to see that Western attempts to engage Chinese nationalists aren’t met with cold silence and slogans. As an American I’d like to say that most tv-news is hopelessly curtailed, dumbed-down, and sensationalized. Al-Jazeera (of all places) seemed to do the best job of covering the Tibet issue objectively, though it seems that no foreign media are allowed to report freely there (resulting in many or even most of the inaccurate photos Anti-CNN rails about…we can‘t print actual photos of events we‘re not allowed to cover). If I may offer one more blatantly general critique of nationalists (on all sides), it is that you don’t often respond well to criticism. But glad to hear anyway that 环球时报 has unveiled an English edition; if it resembles the Chinese edition, it will go a long way toward undermining that sinister Peaceful Development plot to take over the world. More seriously, the world does need to know (and currently doesn’t) that there are plenty of Chinese people who will defend China (and its perceived “interests”) wholeheartedly. I do take offense at the suggestion that CNN is just a tool of American hegemony/imperialism, and I’m sure other countries’ citizens would attest that Western media is harsh toward almost all governments in the world (though, as Peerenboom and others note, China gets it a bit more).

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