Tuesday 29 January 2008

The Real Facts About The Sino-blogosphere

This post over at Mylaowai's blog amazed me. I meet a lot of people who've been to China (i.e., stayed in a hotel in Beijing for a week) and when asked what they thought about the political situation say things like 'nothing can stop the liberating power of the internet' and 'dictatorship cannot survive in the modern age' - well yes it can folks. I guess the first time I realised this was when I read this front cover China Daily piece (yeah, I used to read that rag, but it was soft, strong, and very absorbing let me tell you):

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Taipei yesterday to oppose moves toward independence in the island province.

Defying the hot weather, throngs of people held banners declaring their opposition to moves to change the island's "official name" from the "Republic of China" to "Taiwan" - a move supported by former "president" Lee Teng-hui.

The demonstration, which was joined by around 1,000 taxis and private cars, was also in response to a protest held by pro-independence forces at the weekend.

Banners displayed by marchers on the orderly and good natured anti-independence demonstration, which was joined by many passers-by, read: "Against Taiwan Independence", "I am Taiwanese and Chinese as well" and "Direct links for transport, post and trade between Taiwan and the mainland will lead Taiwan to prosperity".

Other marchers sent a very simple but clear message to those seeking to split Taiwan from its motherland, displaying the word "Chinese" on their T-shirts.

Responding to the pro-independence demonstration in Taipei on Saturday, a spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs' Office in Beijing dismissed the concept of "Taiwan independence".

The spokesman said the demonstration is one of the steps being taken by Taiwan pro-independence forces seeking the "gradual independence of Taiwan".

The demonstration, a move which intends to separate Taiwan from China, goes against the majority of Taiwan people's desire for peace, stability and development, said the spokesman.

"It has seriously damaged cross-Straits relations and gone against the primary interests of Taiwan people," he said.

"We believe that Taiwan compatriots will make a distinction between right and wrong and oppose pro-independence activities in any form," he added.

There are no forces that can prevent the final reunification of China, he noted.

"The so-called name-change that Lee Teng-hui called for was to separate Taiwan from China. But China will never break up," an angry demonstrator at the anti-independence demonstration was quoted as saying by Xinhua News Agency.

Ninety-two-year-old Xu Yue-li told Xinhua that she loves China and recognizes herself as Chinese.

"China is my mother and I firmly oppose the name change," she said.

The picture that accompanied the story, I hope the extras
they used were well paid.

Now, up until this point i had been telling myself that, like a lot of papers in the west, CD was just cherry picking the stories that matched with their position and not including those that disagreed with it, but this was a clear example of them making stuff up. I emailed a friend of mine who had covered the Taipei demos for Taiwan News newspaper and he sent me an email listing the following facts:

1) There had been a demonstration that day, but it had been a pro-independence one

2) The counter-demonstration organised by the KMT had had only a few hundred people at it, most of them old party members who still believe the old "We're going to liberate the mainland" line

3) The CD piece was therefore total bollocks and the details listed in it had been made up

From that moment on I started to view CD not as a source of (however biased) information, but as a kind of infotainment amusing only for the extravagance of the lies that they thought they could get away with. After reading Mylaowai's piece I'm going to extend the same view to the (unblocked) Chinese blogosphere as well.

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