Monday 31 March 2008

Snapshot of the motherland

From a piece in today's Times on the decline of TV chef Delia Smith's cookery:

The most upsetting aspect of the ongoing Delia-ruination, however, is that - much like Christ before her - she is actually being punished for the greater crimes of mankind. Let's face it, as a nation, we are eating far worse than Delia's tinned-mince-and-frozen-mash shepherd's pie. Infinitesimally worse. Almost unfathomably worse. Britain exists on a diet of garlic bread, Space Raider crisps and banana Nesquik. However, we seem to believe that if we eat Greggs's cheese'n'onion slices but watch Jamie throw together a mackerel and endive salad, we are, somehow, nutritionally elevated above rats. This is a belief that echoes the childhood theories of my friend John, who believed that, if he ate an apple after he ate a Big Mac, the fruit would, somehow, “soak up” the fat.

"garlic bread, Space Raider crisps and banana Nesquik" - what's wrong with that?

Friday 28 March 2008

Don't be so BBC

I was reading down a comments page on the now unblocked BBC Chinese website when I came across a commenter using the phrase "不要那么BBC" ("Don't be so BBC"). I had no idea what was meant by this until it came to me whilst reading this article from today's Times entitled "How I became the most hated woman in China". Noting that western media has become synonymous with deception in China since the Tibetan riots, she went on to say:

The American television station CNN has come in for particular opprobrium. Indeed a university student has set up a special website,, devoted to showcasing misleading or incorrect use of photos. The Times features here too for an allegedly misleading photo caption. And a new phrase – "Don't be too CNN" – has entered the Chinese vocabulary to mean "don't ignore the truth."

That the BBC, which was once heralded by Tiananmen square demonstrators carrying placards saying "Thank you BBC", now carries the same meaning in the minds of some young Chinese as "lies", is a measure of hold that communist propaganda has over the thoughts of the Chinese population. Although the vast majority of Chinese (or at least the ones I have spoken to) do not have this point of view, it must be admitted that there is now a portion of the Chinese population now reaching adulthood who simply hate the west, and everything it stands for. These, the so-called "FQs", short for Fen Qing - "愤青", which in turn is short for "愤怒青年", or "angry youth", are in every way the modern-day counterparts to Mao's Red Guards. We saw during the anti-Japanese riots how the government were able to control the flow of violence from the demonstrators in the same way you control the flow of water from a tap. No doubt that was not the last time that we will see such demonstrations.