Monday, April 25, 2005

Chinese Media

I must thank Michael Parikh for rekindling my interest on this subject. It was because of his comment that I decided to give shape to my lingering thoughts about Chinese media.

If there is one thing that I really hate about China, it ought to be the media. Only those who have lived here can understand and explain how hard it is to get open and unbiased news. I am not disputing the fact that media toes the line of the ruling elite (did I say CNN? J) in all parts of the world. But they are generally accepted to be unbiased and transparent. Even in a not so developed country like India, media is almost independent.

But in China, you have to experience to believe it. China might be putting up a good show with an impressive economy and infrastructure, but it has still retained its “propaganda” agenda when it comes to media. I am not talking about Communist trying to direct the course of the media or shaping up the minds of its billion plus population. That’s a given and I cant complain much about it. I am talking about plain simple news.

If there was to be an Oscar for best censorship, no doubt Chinese government will walk away with the honor! Really. Every bit of news is censored. The censoring also spans the Internet.

So when there was so much being written, shown and discussed in the world media about the Sino-Japanese rift, there was absolutely no coverage on that subject. The programs/news broadcast by foreign media such as CNN, CBS, even Hong Kong channels that made any references to the issue were blocked. (It is common practice in China to throw frustrating ads when the international TV channels air anything that the Communists don’t like). Sample this, the news clip that showed anti-Japanese protests was blocked; but the immediate next news clip showing some pretests in India was left untouched!

The funniest thing is that you will find millions of pages of commentary and analysis written in Chinese media about hot issues in other countries, but not even one that discusses real issues in China!

If you had thought that you could use Internet to overcome the censorship menace, don’t forget the fact that Chinese government is Tech-savvy. So in simple words, government can block access to any site that. So even the harmless, news sites like CNN, BBC, VOA are blocked. Oh yeah and did I till you Google is also blocked frequently (even after Google agreeing with the Government to filter its result to remove any “sensitive” content). All the popular blog sites are locked. Funniest thing is (I must really thank God for it), I can post my blog (domain: Blogger.com) but cant view it (domain: blogspot.com)!! (But thanks to nifty site that lets me browse unanimously, I can get across most of the site blocked in China.)

This explains why Chinese were acting so crazy against Japanese and why they couldn’t get to hear the other side of the story. When there is so much of state control over the media, it is obvious that why average Chinese can’t see the whole picture and simply marches on to the street when the government commands him to do so.

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