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Posts Tagged ‘china’

Briton executed in China over drugs

December 29, 2009 2 comments

A British man convicted of drug smuggling was executed in China today. BBC’s coverage of the story lacks balance, fairness, objectivity and impartiality.

BBC top story of British man executed in China

Top story on BBC news front page on 29 Dec

The British man Akmal Shaikh was executed for smuggling 4 kgs of heroin into Urumqi, Xinjiang in the north-west of China.

UK government and Akmal’s families made repeated pleas for clemency and visited him in Urumqi this weekend.

BBC has been following the story heavily in the past few days, and the execution became its top story today.

The headline: good and/or bad

On its news front page, the headline is “China executes Briton over drugs”.

By criteria of headline writing, this is undoubtedly a good one. With just five words, it tells who did what and how and why. It even hinted where and when.

Besides, it uses an active verb. This is where the editor shows off his wisdom.

People who get killed usually become the subject in a headline, e.g. “Man killed in harbour car plunge in Cornwall”, and “Iran protesters killed, including Mousavi’s nephew”. However, the editor obviously wants to put the blame on China.

Let’s compare BBC headline and my headline for this post.

  • China executes Briton over drugs
  • Briton executed in China over drugs

Is “China” a specific person who did the execution? Which appeals to the British readers more, China or Briton? And does two letters longer really matter here?

Now let’s click to read the story. Oops, the headline changed. Now it reads “British man said to be mentally ill executed in China”. Interesting, hah?

Wait a minute. What is that “said to be”? If you are not sure of something, make sure of it, or don’t talk about it. How can you even put it in a headline?

EU national Vs. Briton

Let’s move on. Here comes the third paragraph:

The execution took place despite repeated calls from his family and the British government for clemency.

This sounds ridiculous to me, well, because of the structure of the sentence, especially the use of that “despite”. UK government and his family called for clemency, so what? Should China let the man go just because some guys made the plea?

The prime minister Gordon Brown also made fun of himself by saying “am appalled and disappointed that our persistent requests for clemency have not been granted”.

Okay, you are the almighty PM, so whatever you request, we have to grant. Is that what you mean?

However, this is not the worst part. One paragraph down, the following sentence stands out.

Mr Shaikh is the first EU national to be executed in China in 50 years.

If I’m not mistaken, this is the first time that BBC used EU national referring to Mr. Akmal Shaikh. What’s the point, please? Is this impartial? What are you trying to “achieve” here, soliciting sympathy from other EU members so that they will join you condemning China? You wish.

Keep journalists code of conduct OUT of mind

Two paragraphs down, BBC brought up the man’s mental illness issue again. Let me give you some key points from the article:

  • family said he suffered from bipolar disorder
  • They said he had been delusional
  • Mr Brown: particularly concerned that no mental health assessment was undertaken.

According to Richard Sambrook, Director of BBC World service and Global News Division, “Balance means arranging things in equal or correct proportions to one another. ”

If BBC is indeed balanced, where are the explanations from the Chinese side?

Don’t tell me you can’t get China’s officials to talk. They have explained this a long time ago. Besides, your Chinese correspondent should have told you about the procedure of asking for mental illness verification in court.

If you keep on reading, you’ll see all quotes are against China. Don’t you think this is biased?

The article also quotes legal charity Reprieve’s communication director saying that “he (Akmal) was frankly failed by China and by their legal system”.

An opinionated and false accusation. Can China sue for defamation? The quotation marks doesn’t prevent you from being sued.

Role of media

In the past few days, the Chinese media remained absolutely silent about the story. Equally oddly, the British media showed excessive enthusiasm while the public didn’t appear to be very much interested.

After all, it is a man who committed felony in China and was trialed and sentenced in accordance with China’s laws. It’s a criminal case, as simple as that.

What the UK government and Mr. Shaikh’s family were trying to do was to ask the Chinese government to overrule the court’s decision.

However, aren’t they used to criticise the Chinese government for their intervention into judicial independence?

What do they apply double systems when a British man is involved?

And what role have the British media played? Is it right for them to allocate so much space or air time for the drug smuggler story? Are they acting as the mouthpiece of the British government as they always accuse their Chinese counterparts for doing so?

All in all, can a public service broadcaster really stay independent, willingly or unwillingly?

Update at 10:00 am: The Telegrpaph also puts the story on its front page. Their reporting is much better in terms of following journalistic code of conducts.

TV talenet show exposes China’s race issue. Or, really?

December 22, 2009 Leave a comment

CNN website published a story about a black Chinese girl causing controversies allegedly due to her skin color, and concluded that racism is a serious problem in China. Is this reporting objective?

Picture from: SMG

Lou Jing, 20 years old, was born in Shanghai to a Chinese mother and an African-american father. The only difference she has with other Chinese girls is her black skin.

Four months ago, she participated in a TV talent show in Shanghai called “Go Oriental Angel”, and was eliminated before the finale.

At the stage, she said she was raised in a single-parent family, and now wanted to find her father.

Off the show stage, Lou became the center of heated discussion. She was “attacked” on the Internet. Some Chinese netizens even made racial discriminative remarks such as “she shouldn’t have been born” and “get out of China”.

Did she lie?

This is basically the CNN version of the story. But, was it really her skin color that sparked those hostile remarks as CNN claimed?

Let’s hear the other side of the story.

With the help of “human flesh search engine”, some Chinese netizens claimed Lou was lying.

Lou’s mother was married to a Chinese man. When she left work to pursue further study in a Shanghai college, she had an affair with an African-american who also studied there. The man left before Lou was born.

The Chinese man was protective of both Lou and her mother. He said Lou’s black skin was because her mother ate a lot of Chinese herbal medicines when she was pregnant.

For three years, the Chinese man protected “his” family until he could no longer undertake the never-stopped finger-pointing. He gave up his career and left for Japan.

However, Lou said she had never had a father and was raised by her mother single-handedly.

Those who believed she was lying felt it was unfair for the Chinese man who sacrificed so much for three years to bring her up. They started to pour their anger over the web.

Has CNN been objective?

I’m not here to judge which side of the story is true; I can’t prove anything.

But I’m sure that CNN was absolutely wrong to say that it was Lou’s skin color that was the center of the disputes.

Totally disagree. The central issue of the disputes was honesty.

Besides, those racial discriminative remarks were made by just a few. They were not the main voice on the web.

In fact, I had some doubts about CNN’s reporting of this story.

  • The story happened in late August and lasted until mid September. Since then, it has subsided. Why did CNN pick it up after three months later?
  • Why didn’t CNN mention the real controversies about Lou Jing? For fear of defamation? Then why didn’t CNN ask Lou or her mother to clarify?
  • Was it right to say that a few unreasonable people’s remarks stand for what most Chinese people think? Search “Lou Jing” in Chinese in google, there are only less than 600,000 results. If you can read Chinese, you’ll see nearly 80% talked about her story instead of racial problem.

These is nothing wrong to report a single case to address a general issue, but there must be a solid connection between these two; otherwise, it’s like you call a white cloth “black” when all you see is just a black dot on the cloth.

Jounalist’s code of conduct

When we talk about news reporting, there are four rules that journalists have to abide by:

  • objectivity
  • fairness
  • balance
  • impartiality

Richard Sambrook, Director of BBC World Service and Global News Division, had an article “Holding on to objectivity” in which he talked about the differences of these four principles.

Sadly, none of them is loyally implemented in the CNN story.

Rewrite: Southern Weekly’s interview with US president

November 24, 2009 Leave a comment

Southern Weekly did an exclusive interview with US president Barack Obama during his visit in China last week.

The newspaper editor-in-chief and one of its senior journalists conducted the interview and the 6 questions they asked are:

  • Favorite part about visiting China
  • Whether have spare time to play basketball
  • China-America cooperation in Asia-pacific region
  • Timetable to acknowledge China’s market economic status
  • US restrictions on high-tech export to China
  • Policy on not restraining China’s rise

Sensitive issues such as China’s human rights, freedom of speech, internet blockage, etc. were not raised, or at least, not published.

According to Xing Lieshan, one of the newspaper’s senior editors, the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China was angry about the interview and instructed that no other media or websites should republish the interview.

One reason is that the department was not informed before the interview, the other reason is that the department was not happy about certain issues talked about in the interview.

Mr. Xing explained that interviews with visiting leaders were usually conducted by Xinhua News Agency or CCTV (China Central TV), the two most loyal mouthpieces of the Communist Party, but this time, Mr. Obama handpicked Southern Weekly, probably because of its reputation for speaking for the people and exposing government scandals.

He said the Publicity Dept. is an organization of the Party, and it’s inappropriate for the US side to raise interview request with them; instead, the US delivered request to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was not the newspaper’s fault that the communication between the ministry and the department broke up.

As for those sensitive topics, the newspaper was left with no choice but cutting them out before publishing. Everything happened at such a short notice that they had to leave half of the paper in blank.

However, the newspaper is very clever. They put two lines  in the centre of the blank implying China’s censorship. It says:

No everyone can become a big shot, but all can understand China right here.

PS: This is a revised version of the last post. I tried to apply general writing rules and also online writing rules. Which one do you think is better?

Gordon Brown speaking to Global Fellowship students in Lancaster House

November 3, 2009 Leave a comment

I like it when he said “worldwide campaign against globalization”.

Five meters away from Gordon Brown

November 2, 2009 3 comments

Yong talking on podium

Half an hour before I was there , it was Gordon Brown who stood behind the podium.

Yes, you hear me right! THE prime minister, Gordon Brown, and I was five meters away from him, holding my camera high over a crown of heads recording his speech.

Gordon Brown

I’ll talk about this reception later. Just a quick post here for today!

I’ve also got his speech and will upload it here later.

Faked in China

October 31, 2009 Leave a comment

More than thirty students from over 20 nationalities sat in a classroom in the University of Westminster, talking about their preconceived impression of one another’s countries. Here’s a list of what they said about China: faked products, cheap labour, speech control, one-child policy, pollution, among other things.

Wait a minute. “Made in China” became “Faked in China”? How did this happen?

Well, the history went back in the early 1990s. At that time, China was emerging as a world factory, attracting many overseas companies with favourable tax policies, less expensive raw materials, and most importantly, extremely cheap labours.

Engines roaring, numerous “Made in China” items travelled across the globe. Usually, factories produce more than order quantity. They started to sell them at cheaper price without brand tags.

Later they found that people were willing to pay more if they put a brand tag on the items they sold. They started to fake brand tags. Still, the product quality was good.

This was not a serious problem when these faked brand products were sold in small scale. However, some speculators seized the opportunity and spread them into many big cities across the country. In some developed cities such as Shanghai and Beijing, markets selling exclusively these faked brand products came into being.

Things turned nasty when those extra items failed to meet demand. Some factories started to produce faked items. Same faked brand tags, but no longer the same quality. For example, a faked Gucci bag might looked exactly the same as a real one, but the faked one was made of artificial tan instead of genuine leather. An authentic one cost $400, but a faked one cost less than $4.

Many people chose to have a faked one out of economic concern. Even some international stars went to China to buy faked items. At the same time, huge amounts of fakes items were exported, or precisely, smuggled to other countries. “Made in China” has become “Faked in China”.

Realizing the seriousness of this problem, the Chinese government launched several nation-wide campaigns over the past years to crack down faked products.

As we criticise “Faked in China”, we also have to ask ourselves this: if we stop buying faked products, will they stop producing them? Who is to blame ultimately?

 

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