Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Deepening Divide

My office is dead quiet. It's not just people beavering away in front of the computer, but also because they are communicating with Instant Messenger.

And not only do they post pictures, but also add a tagline next to their names. In the last few days, thanks to the perceived bias of Western media reports on Tibet, some have messages like "Disgusting Associated Press Get Out of China!" and "All you wanna do is to split China and curb its rising as a world power!"

Today they were united as ever. A majority of them put the heart symbol and "China" next to their names, in an effort to show their red patriotism.

It was their response to the stories in Chinese state media complaining about CNN's Jack Cafferty's remarks about Chinese-made goods as "junk". During the show, The Situation Room he said, "The Chinese are basically the same bunch of goons and thugs they have been in the past 50 years".

Yesterday the Foreign Ministry in Beijing demanded an apology from the American broadcaster, saying China was shocked by the commentator's gruff words. "We solemnly demand that CNN and Cafferty retract his vicious remarks and apologize to the whole Chinese people."

The Foreign Ministry got its wish.

"CNN would like to clarify that it was not Mr. Cafferty's, nor CNN's, intent to cause offense to the Chinese people, and [CNN] would apologize to anyone who has interpreted the comments in this way.

"CNN is a network that reports the news in an objective and balanced fashion. However, as part of our coverage we also employ commentators who provide robust opinions that generate debate.

"On this occasion Jack was offering his strongly held opinion of the Chinese government, not the Chinese people --- a point he subsequently clarified on The Situation Room on April 14.

"It should be noted that over many years, Jack Cafferty has expressed critical comments on many governments, including the U.S. government and its leaders."

But the Foreign Ministry is also calling on France to reflect on why Chinese people are thinking about boycotting Carrefour. Petitioners claim LVMH Group, which is a major shareholder of the French retailing giant, has donated funds to the Dalai Lama.

It's interesting they aren't calling for a boycott of the brands LVMH Group owns, like Louis Vuitton, Donna Karan, Moet & Chandon, Sephora, Givenchy, Fendi, Celine and Tag Heuer.

Apparently senior government officials are patting themselves on the back for their successful domestic PR campaign in creating a rising tide of nationalism.

But little do they realize this rift is creating tensions around the world that will be difficult to ease anytime soon.


Anonymous said...

the cafferty comment is really out of proportion to the fact. i dont understand why a reporter who should be objective in stance can have such a biased view. it must be coming from a very crooked mind. throughout history there has been many incidences of cruelty to fellow human beings. china is not alone. there was massacre during the french revolution. the guillotine is invented by the french. in britain the famous tower of london has also a lot of historical tragedies of roayl infightings. cafferty should study a few more history lessons.

Anonymous said...

"Incidences of cruelty to fellow human beings." Of course there have been, BUT the whole point of have media coverage and to have debates on these issues is to AVOID these "incidences". Sounds like 'anon' is getting a little defensive about the whole thing.

Chinese people need to learn how to take criticism. Criticism can be perceived many different ways, and it's when you get extremists, fundamentalists, and yes the Chinese who take it the wrong way, when all goes to shits.

What ever happened to the progression of humanity, we should be here to learn a lesson and learn from past mistakes, and if it's heated debates and staunch criticism that gets society going, so be it.

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