Career: Associate | Goodwin Procter LLP | Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Why China’s Young Generations Were Angry
A recent China-related headline at CNN concerned boycotting the Beijing Olympics. The reporter told the TV viewers that while President Bush had publicly announced that he would attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, some European leaders had decided not to do so due to China’s human rights record.
Another recent China-related headline at CNN concerned the Beijing Olympic torch relay in other countries. Hundreds of thousands of overseas Chinese stood on the street to welcome and protect the torch, but the Western media chose to cast their lights on the anti-China protestors. It might have appeared to TV viewers that the anti-China protestors dominated the torch relay, but the fact was that China’s national flags were flying everywhere along the relay.
The most controversial recent China-related news report appeared in March 2008. The Western media told readers that a picture showed Chinese police beating Tibetan monks, whereas the police in the picture were Nepalese, something that is apparent to any careful reader from their uniforms and race. Western reporters might try to excuse themselves in accurate reporting on the ground that to some extent Asians generally look alike. OK, let’s be tolerant and accept this explanation. But how can the Western media explain away the fact that they intentionally edited the picture to accuse Chinese police of attacking the Tibetan monks when the fact was just the opposite? How could they explain that well-educated Western reporters and editors ignored the obvious red cross on the ambulance and report that it was a military car?
The Chinese, especially the young generations, have responded to these misleading reports with an outburst of anger. They have stood up to protest against the Western media for the first time in several years. Large numbers of Chinese have gone into the street to express their anger. Others have used the Internet to present their disagreement by launching the “Anti-CNN Forum” and by collecting on-line signatures.
The Western media were taken aback by this anger and responded by explaining away the outrage by China’s young generations as being nationalists.
Yes, we are patriotic because we were proud of China’s development over the past few decades. But that is not all. When we saw how the Western media reported recent events, we were also angry because we felt betrayed by media that in the past we had come to trust.
I can still recall my first class in the School of Journalism and Communication back to my college days in China. My professor used the Western media as a model to teach us the basic principles of news reporting: truth, fairness, and balance. I, as many young Chinese, for many years, had believed that the Western media were where we could find the truth. At that time, many of us might even have criticized our country based on the information provided by the Western media.
Ironically, the Western media have now taught us another lesson, namely that they are not to be equated with sources of the truth. We have discovered out that our assumptions might have been misguided for a long time. As a result we have lost faith in the Western media, we have come to doubt our understanding of the world, and we now wonder if the Western media hate us just because we are Chinese, regardless of what we do. We have come to be confused about where to find the truth.