Archive for the ‘China’ tag

Is China using the earthquake to political advantage?

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The LA Times has a distinctly different take than most newspapers on the Chinese earthquake on its front page today. The article – ‘Amid the tragedy lies opportunity’ – suggests the Chinese government is using the disaster as ‘an opportunity for a dramatic image makeover’.

‘After months of relentless coverage of Tibetan clashes and human rights abuses,’ Barbara Demick writes, ‘the earthquake shows a new China, one that is both compassionate and competent’. Demick emphasises how ‘much of the footage seen at home and abroad so far comes from state-owned CCTV television’.

Too cynical? Well, if you compare it to the New York Times it is. The NY Times, which also assesses media coverage of the earthquake, comes to a very different conclusion. For the NY Times, ‘the rescue effort playing non-stop on Chinese television is remarkable for a country that has a history of concealing the scope of national calamities and then bungling its response’.

Like its West Coast counterpart, the NY Times notes that the Chinese government news agency, Xinhua, has ‘offered an unusually vigorous stream of updates about casualties and problems confronting rescue teams’. But the East Coast paper has a much less sceptical explanation. Indeed it concludes by quoting a Chinese media professor saying that ‘this is the first time the Chinese media has lived up to international standards… I think the government is learning some lessons from the past’.

Still, Chinese media’s recent reaction to the Olympic flame debacle adds some fuel to the LA Times’ scepticism. During the protests Chinese television news was screening, on a repetitive loop, the moment when a protester tried to grapple the flame away from a disabled flame carrier. In other words – you got it – protester horrid and bad, carrier of the flame good.

Written by Martin Moore

May 14th, 2008 at 9:29 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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