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.

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