China Briefs: Feb 1, 2009
Feb 1 — China’s new propaganda machine
The Manila Times (Nicholas Bequelin) – China is about to embark on a multibillion-dollar media expansion overseas, including the establishment of a 24-hour English language all-news channel modeled after CNN. These are only the most recent steps in a methodical strategy for Chinese state media to “go global” and make “the voice of China better heard in international affairs"…
The sheer scale of these plans raises many questions about China’s long-term objectives. Can state-run broadcasters, whose traditional role is to be the “throat and tongue” of the Communist Party, really turn into competitors for the likes of CNN and the BBC?
So what’s different with China?
The difference lies in the strong control the Chinese government and Chinese Communist Party exert over news and information… the fundamental premise that all information on state-run channels must reflect the government’s views…
The state itself refers to all media work abroad as wai xuan, or “external propaganda.” On its official Web site–but only in Chinese–CCTV describes itself as “the mouthpiece of the Party and the government,” lists its main operations under the heading “propaganda situation,” and refers to its new foreign language channels as “reaching a new stage in external propaganda.” Xinhua–a self-depicted “news agency with Chinese characteristics”–describes its activities as “conducted from start to finish under the direct leadership of the central party authorities.”
Jan 29 — MEPs call for [independent] Chinese TV station to be put back on air
BRUSSELS (The Parliament, Martin Banks) – A cross-party group of MEPs have called for the uncensored [NY based] Chinese language broadcaster NTDTV to be put back on air. The demand follows a move by the Chinese authorities last June to shut down NTDTV's broadcast via the Paris-based satellite carrier Eutelsat. Critics of the Chinese regime say Beijing did so by applying "political pressure and business interest lures" to Eutelsat.
Several deputies held a news conference in parliament on Wednesday to call for the 'ban' on NTDTV to be lifted. UK Tory Edward McMillan-Scott, a vice president of the assembly, said he wants the French government to press the Eutelsat to restore the station's broadcasts to China. He pointed out that recently some 476 MEPs signed a written declaration urging Eutelsat to resume the service.
Italian ALDE deputy Marco Cappato, who also spoke at the news conference, said, "As the west celebrates the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, in 2009 China will observe the 50th anniversary of the Chinese communist government's rule in Tibet, the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, and the 10th anniversary of the persecution of the Falun Gong spiritual practice.
"This strong contrast highlights the need for information freedom in China. Without NTDTV's pioneering work to bring uncensored information to China, the vast majority of the Chinese population will have no access to information commemorating these solemn occasions."
Feb 1 — Chinese Prime Minister Visits Germany, Practitioners Call to Bring Persecutors to Justice
(Clearwisdom.net) – On the morning of January 29, when Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's motorcade slowly passed by the German Prime Minister's office mansion, Falun Gong practitioners were waiting with banners to protest the Chinese Communist regime's persecution of Falun Gong. They also held a rally at the Brandenburg Gate later in the day.
The practitioners displayed banners calling for action to bring the persecutors, including [former head of state] Jiang Zemin, Zhou Yongkang, Liu Jing and Luo Gan, to justice, and calling on the Chinese Communist regime to end the persecution of Falun Gong in China.
Ms. Li, who had traveled all night by train to participate in the peaceful protest, said, "We are not here to protest Wen's visit. We are asking him to bring these culprits to justice."
It was a very cold day. The practitioners were outside from 10 am until 7 pm. A police officer remarked that he admired the persistence of Falun Gong practitioners.
Feb 1 — Violent unrest rocks China as crisis hits
LONDON (The Times of India) – The collapse of the export trade in China has left millions jobless and set off a wave of violent unrest in the country.
Bankruptcies, unemployment and social unrest are spreading more widely in China than officially reported, according to an independent research that paints an ominous picture for the world economy, The Sunday Times reported.
The research was conducted for the newspaper over the last two months in three provinces vital to Chinese trade — Guangdong, Zhejiang and Jiangsu. It was found that … dozens of protests are never mentioned by the state media.
Feb 1 — China logs 8th reported case of bird flu this year
BEIJING (International Herald Tribune) – A 21-year-old woman in central China has been infected by the H5N1 strain of bird flu in the country's eighth reported case of the disease this year, the Health Ministry said Sunday, as Hong Kong reported that three birds found at local beaches had died of bird flu.
Feb 1 — China blames pollution as birth defects rise: state media
BEIJING (AFP) – Every 30 seconds a baby is born with physical defects in China, partly due to the country's deteriorating environment, state media said, citing a senior family planning official.
The figure, reported by the China Daily in its weekend edition, adds up to almost 1.1 million in a year, or about seven percent of all births in the world's most populous nation.
Pan Jianping, a professor of the Women and Child Health Research Office under Xi'an Jiaotong University, warned that the increasing rate of birth defects among Chinese infants would soon become a social problem.
Feb 1 — China bar fireworks blaze kills 17
BEIJING (AFP) – Seventeen people were killed and 20 injured in a blaze set off by fireworks inside a bar in southeast China, state media reported on Sunday.
The accident happened late Saturday evening, towards the end of the Lunar New Year festival, in the city of Changle when a group celebrating a birthday set off fireworks at their table inside the bar, the Xinhua news agency said.
"The flames spread very fast and many of the diners were unable to escape," said Li Ming, a customer who himself suffered light burns, according to Xinhua.
Adding to the tragedy, the exit opened inwards, meaning chaos as large numbers of people thronged to get out at the same time, China News Service said.