Thursday, January 29, 2009

China snubs France

By China Watcher

The Chinese premier’s visit to Europe known as a ‘tour of confidence’ has already taken him to Switzerland and later to Germany, the European Union (EU) headquarters, Spain, United Kingdom but not France.

China is still upset over the French President meeting of the Dalai Lama as the rotating EU president’s in Poland last year.

The French President said that he was holding to his ‘values’ when he decided to meet the Western supported religious leader in a Second World War commemoration ceremony in Eastern Europe. The Chinese authorities had told him countless times to look at the Sino-France relationship from a long term and overall perspective rather than listening to Amnesty International, Free Tibet Campaign or Human Rights Watch. But he stubbornly refused due to his so called principled stance. I have never for a single moment thought he is a highly principled person until he used that reasoning to justify his meeting. What a hypocrite!

It is good that China has taken a tough position on this matter. Though Sarkozy’s has stated that the relationship between China and France is important and has become one of interdependence in which both sides needed each other, I would beg to differ. I believe when China told the media that it is up to France to restore the Sino-France relationship to the previous level (since the offence was created by the French side), the genuine solution is there and it pointedly implied that the Chinese could not care much whether the relationship remain cold in the backroom or one that will be term a ‘strategic partnership’ in the future.

I applauded the calculated diplomatic strategy undertaken by China this time around and it is important to show the world (especially the Western media) that China’s being a growing power cannot be taken for granted.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What is the real fuss about Obama’s message?

By China Watcher

These western media are quick to comment about the Chinese government so-called censure of the word communism and dissent in the incoming US President speech commemorating his inauguration.

First, I am surprised that there is a live broadcast on CCTV which I personally feel that it is a sheer waste of televised resources. The deputy director of CCTV summed it very appropriately that the US people care a lot of the presidential inauguration but generally, the Chinese people are not interested or could not give a damn about it. Maybe the small minority and dissenters or “traitors” pay more attention to this. Even if they pay me to do so, I would find it more productive to spend my time elsewhere rather than sitting through the ordeal.

Second, I have always said that why should we let the 300 millions US people to dictate our lives and the more we are connected to US broadcast programs, the more we would be influenced by its activities and ideals, regardless of whether it is right or wrong.

Even at this particular sorrowful state of financial situations, the US people continue to spend lavishly on celebrations and parties. The government could have tone down the celebration aka Hollywood style but that is not to be because they are proud to be “the land of the free”. We believe that there is a full cycle of ups and downs and I don’t think the Americans would have it their "up" every way and perhaps, the next 30-40 years we could see a clear trending downward.

It is the right of the Chinese TV stations to censor anything that is critical of the government in power. The Chinese do have access to the Internet and if there want to view the full uncensored text of the US President, it would still be possible even if the firewalls are active. So what is the fuss?

It has been a known fact that the main US guiding principle is to oppose communism and fascism and to promote western democracy so highlighting it in every US officials messages are not unusual. When the Chinese authorities cut out the “sensitive parts’ of the translated message, it is no big deal to the Chinese but it was a big thing to the US media by making it into headline news especially if there are associated with CHINA.

I am more keen to know how Obama’s team is going to implement its announced stimulus programs and to reform or revitalize the US’s economy and probably, to resuscitate the world’s economy. On that point, it is disappointing to note there were no new concrete economic measures but more of the rhetoric against communism of which the US people comfortably console themselves that they are well protected. Maybe by gazing at the crystal ball we will be able to foretell the US near terms fortunes more vividly than from the highly charged political speech at the inauguration.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Group of Chinese intellectuals demanding change or a bunch of traitors in collaboration with US intelligence

By China Watcher

I read an article from Straits Times Singapore concerning a group of Chinese intellectuals demanding democratic reforms has called for a boycott of China’s state television news programs which they deemed as “low grade propaganda”. I sense that the publicized news to a certain extent have been instigated by various foreign rightist groups who are out to tarnish China and to ensure that China remain less of a threat to the existing standards of democratic ideals and freedom promoted by the West.

The Group claimed that China Central Television (CCTV) has spun its news bulletins and historical drama series into propaganda to brainwash its viewers. I have watched CCTV news, the English version known as CCTV-9 which is available uncensored on my pay TV and I do not see it as any different from others video news channel from the West like the news from BBC, CNN or Al Jazeera. Voice of America and the Christian Science Monitor are fully funded by the US government stations which are set up to propagate Western democratic values throughout the world. If you happened to listen to the news programs, it is not much different from the many state broadcasting media – promoting its own agenda.

CNN continued to propagate its “American superiority’ philosophy on its viewers, which was evidently demonstrated in the invasion of Iraq, not too long ago.. Al Jazeera is stuck on its one sided criticisms on Israel in support of the Hamas movement and clearly these past few days, I have grown numbed over the repetitive showing of the sufferings of the Palestinian just to evoke worldwide sympathy towards their plight.

CCTV is owned by the Chinese government and it is their right to provide new positive updates on the current state of developments in the country. It is wrong for these 22 academics and lawyers to criticize the government owned TV station of being biased and “brain-washing” its viewers when I have personally viewed clips of the milk scandal victims and the prosecution of the people behind the food scare. Perhaps, the negativity of the content has been “watered-down’ not to reflect the seriousness of the issue.

I do agree that you may not see social unrest on Chinese television as it may require higher up permission from various politically linked decision making bodies. China is still undergoing a social transformation and it is acceptable presently not to let others know about one’s “dirty laundry”. Chinese societal make-up has historically established certain “taboos” which shall not be openly discussed. Even during the times when China was ruled by emperors, negative news was rare and exclusive to selective ears and it not reported publicly. Protecting the image and saving grace (or face-value) are considered more important traits.

The change to be a more open society may happen one day but it will take a while for it to be generally accepted by the Chinese public. In the future, it is up to the Chinese people to decide and it may require sometime before the Chinese people could learn to adapt to a more “open society”. A political mature society will gradually require the government-in-power to cede more authority to its news media and also, to produce news content that will be more people-oriented. It may not be the liberal standards of the “paparazzi-type” that we often see on US media but the constructive-type which will help to create a more responsible and effective governance like the “controlled” news reporting in Singapore and Thailand.

It is unrealistic to expect immediate reforms in the Chinese controlled media but, to be fair, I have seen noticeable change compared to a decade ago. Some Chinese viewers pointed out that China's coverage of the Sichuan quake are clear signs that the media is slowly moving towards a more open and transparent state media. Public viewpoints will definitely provide the seeds for change in the future.

There are about 300 million Chinese netizens and alternatives news media are easily available. Generally, the Chinese people are smart who can differentiate the news that are informative and those that are provocative in nature. I am sure there do not need 22 academicians to speak on their behalf.

The deputy director of CCTV defended the station actions by clamoring that even the US used propaganda about weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq to justify its invasion of the independent country. I also wish to emphasize that State TVs also play an important role to provide accurate news to dispel rumours and restore order. The Chinese government had allotted USD4.8 billion to transform CCTV into a globally respected station to match its growing influence in the world arena.
Every ruling government has to face the dwindling economic conditions arising from the US financial crisis and growing unemployment is a pressing problem not only in China but in many developed nations as well and I do not understand Western reports continued insistence that the Chinese leadership is losing control in this aspect which may affect its governing authority. Even democratically elected governments are not spared if you do not create a stable economic environment for its people. So what is the real fuss?

These so-called intellectuals are emotionally moved by the highly promoted societal freedoms of the West and influenced by the Western liberal standards of procedures to resolve matters. If a person truly understands the current political conditions, the gradual change in the societies, the given priorities at various stages of development and the differences in culture between the East and West, they should not be easily “bought over” or instigated by these Western groups.