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Stereotypes of Chinese media cause real damage [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2018-10-14 14:10:54 |Display all floors


Editor's note: Wu Can is studying in the Msc Media, Communication and Development department at London School of Economics, and served as an editor at Gates Foundation in China. The article reflects the author's opinion, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

In just a couple of days, the second CGTN Global Media Summit will be held in Chongqing on October 16. It's an exciting occasion where Chinese storytellers grapple with the new complexities that the evolving international situation and technologies bring to the media industry.

But to many international media consumers, the name CGTN may not be familiar. It is interesting to note that there's BBC and Guardian, there's CNN and Fox News, and there's “Chinese media.”

In fact, there are hundreds of media outlets in China. But unless one works in the media industry or is familiar with China, it is hard for them to name many Chinese media outlets like Xinhua and People's Daily, let alone read news from them.

But strangely enough, the West still “knows” Chinese media and considers it “untrustworthy” and a “propaganda machine.” This deeply rooted stereotype is not based on personal experiences or rigorous academic research, it's the result of the West viewing itself as the "standard" and excluding anything unfamiliar as "other."


Simply put, the West has held this train of thought ever since the colonial times. Over 40 years ago, one of the most renowned scholars in the social sciences, Edward Said, shrewdly observed this process, which he labeled "orientalism." Although his main focus was on Western representations of the Middle East, many of the same rules apply.

“Orientalism can be discussed and analyzed as the corporate institution for dealing with the Orient – dealing with it by making statements about it, authorizing views of it, describing it, by teaching it, settling it, ruling over it,” Said explained.

In this way, saying that “Chinese media is untrustworthy” is not an argument, it is a given and a known fact in the Western media context: you can rebut a point of view but cannot refute a given fact. Before even reading a news story from China, it has already been branded and sentenced to an unlimited time of being stereotyped.

To put it simply, media is a path through which we construct a world view. Every piece of news enables us to experience a different story and go to different places. Although many say the “post-truth” era has come, when truth does not matter and cannot be traced, there is no alternative fact; there's only alternative way to present a fact and analyze it.

By discrediting Chinese media, the West has deprived China of its right to give its own compelling ideas and most importantly, silenced China from the process of giving itself its own identity and representing itself on the world stage. It in turn gives the West more authority to define the “real” China.

But should we be concerned about this competition over “just” words and ideas? Yes. Because the hegemonic control over culture has direct political and economic consequences. The current trade war started by the US was launched based on a range of accusations against China: stealing technology, breaking trade rules and “debt trapping” other developing countries, just to name a few.


Once they have established the image of China being all those things, it gives them great legitimacy to start such a trade war against China even at a painful cost. And it is in this way the anti-China discourse becomes not just “words” but causes real damage.

Another victim of such cultural control would be African countries – classically represented by the West as poor, primitive and underdeveloped. The Structural Adjustment Program in the 1990s, which the world economic institutions initiated to help the continent, failed to deliver its mission.

Developing countries have to restructure their economies and accept a set of neo-liberal economic policies in exchange for debts. But this program has been heavily criticized for resulting in poverty and making developing countries more dependent on developed countries. The institutionalized and biased representations of African countries have helped the West gain huge economic profits.  

And has the Middle East always been a chaotic place where terrorists are born? Has the chaos made it easier for the US and its allies to send more troops and start more airstrikes in this area without having to make further explanations at the UN?
The argument that the Western media has an established stereotype against Chinese media is not meant to glorify Chinese media. It only tries to point out the urgency to challenge the current “Western media hegemony.” But in the foreseeable future there are bound to be conflicts when the two sets of discourse meet each other.

And a dilemma does exist for Chinese media outlets: must they speak in the Western value system to make their stories more easily accepted and increase their audience; or must they tell their own stories and ignore the agenda pushed by the West? As China's influence in the world has become increasingly important, this dilemma is more urgent than ever before.

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Post time 2018-10-15 07:27:00 |Display all floors
Very good, accurate post.

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Post time 2018-10-15 10:03:38 |Display all floors
This post was edited by wchao37 at 2018-10-15 10:04

I was one of the first to raise the importance of this issue many years ago.

Much progress has already been made. It wasn't that long ago that CGTN was CCTV-9 and the anchor was an aging white man who often looked as if he was sorry he was working for the Chinese TV media.

Subsequently there were several more anchors with varying degrees of capability, but I like the present one the best.

He looks comfortable in his anchoring chair and never looks ruffled or sweaty.

It will take some time for CGTN to make further progress, but its importance has been underlined by the fact that not too long ago its broadcasting rights was said to have been taken down in the Washington D.C. area.

Western hegemony in dispensing news to the world's audience was not established in one day, and so the relative weight it carries will not disappear overnight.

Just look at our own CD online newspaper.

I was fortunate enough to be one of the first contributors back in 2002 when the forum was just a single link leading to a box where you can upload your comments, and see how it has grown.

Due to lack of experience we couldn't tell friend from foe and I was quite taken aback when I returned in April, 2018 after a few years of absence.

This place was infested with Zs, with the most offensive amongst them making hateful, distorting and disparaging remarks in every post with impunity on everything from A to Z that the Chinese government, its people and its civilization represent.

They only need three guys each working an eight-hour shift to disseminate their heretic disinformation and throw little poisoned darts at everything Chinese.

It is easy for them to send a representative here and work his way up to be a mod to guard Z_interests here in our Chinese forum, as can be seen in the way he is vociferously DEMANDING the return of his protege, using threats and foul language to intimidate the CD establishment as if he owns someone in this place.

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Post time 2018-10-15 11:34:26 |Display all floors
Now that we are clear from Mike Pence's speech as well as that of his boss that their main strategic thrust is aimed at putting China into a deep coma, we should all be galvanized into one antithetical alliance.

We have to work as if we were all alone, and shouldn't put too much emphasis on strategic alliance with anyone.

I mean Russia is a close partner and Putin is a highly-valued friend, but what if the Russian leader is suddenly torn from the perfect picture?  If we put all eggs into one basket our national security will be endangered.

Donald and his strategic advisors are acting like schizophrenics in sanctioning while simultaneously luring Russia into their orbit.

Putin is not taking the bait because he knows the vital role that China plays in his overall objective of reviving Mother Russia, and has avoided even giving the appearance of reciprocating the real-estate man's tentative embraces.

Yes, Donald Trump, on the advice of Henry Kissinger, tried to seduce Putin by casting the man in a positive light despite the historical and structural incongruity between the two nations, but as everyone can see -- he has failed miserably in this regard.

So the strategic world has now evolved into a tic-tac-doe virtual-reality game in which the most vociferous player had never engaged in politics in his first 68 years -- and therefore is not restrained by any rational fear of the risks which only a seasoned and experienced politician could comprehend.

Hence the role that China's media will be playing in this epic struggle is of great importance -- we cannot afford to have China's foes take this place for granted and send its agents swaggering into our dance floor at CD wagging their middle fingers.




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Post time 2018-10-15 13:07:19 |Display all floors

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Post time 2018-10-15 13:53:34 |Display all floors
This article is right on with regards to how the West has honed the media into a weapon against those who are different. Their media does not speak for the truth and is not interested in the truth but only for what they established as the "truth". It is a big industry with support from very very very rich people (of self interest). I am glad more and more people are aware of it. This has been happening for many decades. Developing countries are rich, fertile places for this kind of indoctrination because people in such countries want to live the kind of life in developed countries and will easily succumb to the lure of such propaganda. Anyway, I would like to comment more on the last paragraph of this article which says:

And a dilemma does exist for Chinese media outlets: must they speak in the Western value system to make their stories more easily accepted and increase their audience; or must they tell their own stories and ignore the agenda pushed by the West? As China's influence in the world has become increasingly important, this dilemma is more urgent than ever before.


It is CGTN that I am more focused on. In my opinion, there is no need to hire presenters who only speak English with American accent. They have to be fluent, but not necessarily American accented. It is a subtle form of "submission". What is important for a media is that it represents the truth and is impartial by reporting the facts without trying to influence people's thoughts, such as by resorting to deceiving headlines, omitting important and relevant facts, and by choice of words. Slowly, this media will gain recognition and respect.  If there are not enough facts, the media should be responsible to mention it and KIV this matter. If Chinese media can accomplish this, it would offer an attractive alternative to the present day Western media.

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Post time 2018-10-15 13:53:40 |Display all floors
This article is right on with regards to how the West has honed the media into a weapon against those who are different. Their media does not speak for the truth and is not interested in the truth but only for what they established as the "truth". It is a big industry with support from very very very rich people (of self interest). I am glad more and more people are aware of it. This has been happening for many decades. Developing countries are rich, fertile places for this kind of indoctrination because people in such countries want to live the kind of life in developed countries and will easily succumb to the lure of such propaganda. Anyway, I would like to comment more on the last paragraph of this article which says:

And a dilemma does exist for Chinese media outlets: must they speak in the Western value system to make their stories more easily accepted and increase their audience; or must they tell their own stories and ignore the agenda pushed by the West? As China's influence in the world has become increasingly important, this dilemma is more urgent than ever before.


It is CGTN that I am more focused on. In my opinion, there is no need to hire presenters who only speak English with American accent. They have to be fluent, but not necessarily American accented. It is a subtle form of "submission". What is important for a media is that it represents the truth and is impartial by reporting the facts without trying to influence people's thoughts, such as by resorting to deceiving headlines, omitting important and relevant facts, and by choice of words. Slowly, this media will gain recognition and respect.  If there are not enough facts, the media should be responsible to mention it and KIV this matter. If Chinese media can accomplish this, it would offer an attractive alternative to the present day Western media.

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