2008-04-03 03:47:19 China Daily
Some foreign media fabricated lots of reports on severe riots that took place in early March in Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. The distorted reports triggered protests of netizens both at home and abroad. Netizens even established a website named anti-cnn.com that is aimed at opposing distorted reports from CNN, a well-known US news network.
Responding to a question from a Western media outlet at a regular press conference by Chinese Foreign Ministry on whether the anti-CNN website is supported by the Chinese government, spokesman Qin Gang said the website represented unprompted efforts by Chinese people from all walks of life to condemn and criticize Western media for their irresponsible and unethical reports and it had nothing to do with the government.
Western media led by CNN have been advocating the principles of objective and impartial reporting. However, they distorted reports on riots in Tibet that involved beating, smashing, looting and burning.
Distorted Western reports spark protests from netizens
Eighteen innocent civilians were killed and direct property losses of more than 250 million yuan were incurred in the unrest that rocked Lhasa, capital of Tibet, on March 14. During the orgy of violence, mobsters attacked not only passersby but also government organs. Police and riot police, led by the Tibet regional committee of the Communist Party of China and the government, cracked down on the rioters strictly according to the law and maintained law and order in the region.
However, some major Western media completely ran against the basic principles of objectivity and impartiality in their reports about the riots in Tibet.
The CNN website publicized a picture showing people running in front of two military trucks on March 17. The original picture uploaded by netizens, however, actually also shows about 10 mobsters throwing stones at the trucks. Obviously, the website intentionally clipped parts of the picture that show the real image of the picture.
Just in the same day, a picture on the BBC website showing Chinese riot police officers helping medical staff move a wounded person into an ambulance was captioned "there is a heavy military presence in Lhasa". The Chinese characters "Jijiu" (First Aid) on the ambulance were so conspicuous and even for those who don't know Chinese characters well, the Red Cross signs on the ambulance were also obvious to see. Evidently, the references of First Aid and Red Cross signs on the ambulance were dutifully neglected.
Berliner Morningpost published a picture on its website on March 18 with a caption "Police are arresting Tibetans." However, the real image is that police are rescuing injured people.
More notably, the websites of Germany's Bild newspaper, N-TV and RTL TV, and the Washington Post all used pictures of baton-wielding Nepalese police in clashes with Tibetan protesters in Kathmandu, claiming that the officers were Chinese police. However, the fact is that Nepalese security forces were confronting demonstrators with batons.
All the above-mentioned Western media completely turned blind eyes to the principles of fairness and objectivity, which they have been preaching, in the reports about riots in Tibet. Their distorted reports are far from mistakes they claimed.
Chinese netizens angered by biased and sometimes dishonest reports about the recent riots in Tibet by some Western media established the anti-cnn website in order to collect and make public the biased reports and shed light on the truth that the Western media are aimed at tarnishing the image of China.
The RTL TV admitted on March 23 that their report on Tibet was inaccurate and said sorry for that. Few media other than RTL have made sincere apology for their distorted reports.
Power of public opinion on the Internet
In the face of biased Western reports, netizens act rationally even though they are angered by the reports. They collected facts, through means including blogs and video images, that prove the Western reports are wrong and distorted.
An article on the Internet with 11 pictures strongly criticized the distorted reports and then many media carried the article together with the pictures.
A video footage named "Tibet is part of China both in the past, at present and in the future" on the famous video website Youtube received 1.2 million hits and 72,000 pieces of comments in different languages in three days after it was published. It also sparked widespread debate in many countries about the Tibet issue.
Another video image called "Tibet riots: the true face of Western media" also received record hits.
In the same time, netizens on domestic websites also strongly chided the distorted reports. Traffic of the anti-cnn website exceeded 200,000 five days after it was set up, with more than 2,000 netizens providing various proof. CNN's news reporting has become the synonym of disinformation and garbling that run counter to the true values of news reporting. "You cannot behave like CNN" soon became a catchword in the Internet.
Apart from the anti-cnn website, netizens also applied to establish anti-BBC and anti¡VVOA websites. Many netizens think CNN is only part of the Western media that have deep-rooted misunderstanding of and prejudice against China and it is necessary for them (netizens) to make truths known.
As a media commentary goes, "Chinese netizens' rational opinion and love of their country are becoming 'weapon of criticism' that foreign media have to face up to."
Rao Jin, 23-year-old, graduating from Engineering Physics Department of Tsinghua University, runs his own IT company now. Rao was shocked by hearing the news when he talked with his friends studying abroad about Lhasa riots.
Rao: My friends living abroad are so angry to see full-pages coverage about Tibet riots with many fake pictures from Western newspapers. I am also furious. I know the media report would feature with some subjectivity in reporting, but you can't fabricate fact and create something from nothing whatever standpoint you hold.
The dishonest reports on Lhasa riots from CNN, BBC, Germany's RTL and other Western mainstream media ignite strong repulsion among Chinese netizens.
Netizen: I get angry by seeing these distorted reports. Obviously, they are falsified completely.
Netizen: Naturally, the first reaction from Chinese is fury. However, Chinese are rational facing with these fake reports and fight back reasonably. Meanwhile, we are showing our passion and patriotism.
Rao Jin and some netizens have an idea when discussing about this case on the net.
Rao: Some netizens suggest us how to fight back and gain speaking right. So I think we should speak out our thoughts and let the westerners learn about the truth.
With support from netizens, Rao Jin launched a website named anti-cnn.com on March 20 to collect, arrange and publish evidences of distorted reports from Western media. Nearly 2,000 netizens post articles within several days. Rao put the articles on the net after verifying their content, including fake reports from Western mainstream media CNN, Fox, BBC, Times, Germany's RTL television station.
Rao: For example, a net voting titled 'Is China a good country to host the Olympics?' is launched by Toronto Star on March 24. But till now the result on its website shows that 76 percent voters support China to host 2008 Games and 23 percent are negative. However, it turned out 17 percent positive and 82 vote against when they publish the result on the newspaper. They made the vote questionnaire and the result is clear on their website now. Unquestionably, it is a big lie.
The posts on anti-cnn.com are reposted and shared on other BBS by netizens in a short time. The present number of visits of the websit exceeds 500,000 everyday, including 60 percent hits from domestic netizens and 40 percent abroad. The increasing visits to anti-cnn.com draw attention of Western media and some imagine that it gains support from the Chinese government and the netizens are hired by the government.
Rao: Their question is inevitable but ridiculous. The website is worked out volunteerly by netizens and run by netizens. We received several hundred of E-mail from netizens in less one day when the website went into operation. Many netizens wanted to be volunteers, helping collecting facts, constructing website and translating. During the whole process, no government organ or anyone connected with me.
Netizens home and abroad are joining in the fight through the Internet. To unveil the truth is their common objective.
Wang Ping, living in America for 6 years, is an employee of a company. He read the reports about Lhasa riots from local media in mid-March.
Wang: Although we don't learn so much about Tibet riots, direct perception tells me it¡¦s wrong, because these media always exaggerate reports on China's affair. When I telephoned with my friends at home, I know some reports are fraud.
Under the influence from local media fake repots, some professors with little knowledge about Tibet riots in America are publicly support Tibet issue.
Wang: They (the professors) are totally ignorant of fact. I feel so angry.
In order to let more people know about truth of Lhasa riots, Wang started to collect materials and sent E-mails to these professors respectively. I told them the average span of Tibetan people and the infant mortality rate in the past and present. I will post some memories written by Tibetan people on the Internet and let more people learn about Tibet.
During the interview, Wang always insisted that what he could do is limited. To reveal the truth of Lhasa riot more Chinese living overseas do what they could like Wang.
"The Lhasa riot has left a 'legacy' to the Chinese people. It could also be seen as a mirror that reflected the true faces of some people in the international community," said Qin Gang, the Foreign Ministry Spokesman, in response to the different reactions of some western media and Chinese netizens on the riot in Lhasa. "The coverage of the riots in Tibet by some Western media was a textbook of bad examples, which we Chinese people can learn from. What in all events are the so-called fairness and objectivity boosted by some western media?
Experts: Netizens irritated at foreign media's false reports
Two experts majoring in journalism and media research expressed their opinions on this issue. One is Yu Guoming, Chairman of Public Opinion Research Institute, from Renmin University of China and the other is Yin Yungong, leader of Institute of Journalism and Communication, from the Chinese Academy of Social Science.
Yu Guoming: Theoretically speaking, this kind of distorted reports fall into two categories in the field of journalistic researches. One is a sort of confusion resulted from the ignorance of certain facts, which kind of situation is understandable and acceptable; while on the other side is the intentional confusion that calls white black, which is definitely not due to ignorance or lacking in knowledge of facts. This kind of confusion can only be regarded as purposeful deeds associated with certain political intentions or some in-depth national Interests
Yin Yungong: Actually the western world has been holding three one-sided viewpoints towards "the Dalai Issue," that is to say, nepotism, in which they take sides in the Dalai clique; bigoted opinions that are in favor of the Dalai Lama, turning a blind eye on the Chinese government and the Chinese people; and also prejudiced reports that are out of their nepotism and bigoted opinions.
The western media is totally neither fair nor square on "the Tibet Issue." Why? Mobsters assaulted innocent civilians, causing so many Hans and Tibetans injured and five young saleswomen burnt to death. However, I've never seen any western media reporting such inhumane actions by the rioters. None of them have shown even a bit of human cares to the Chinese people who were physically injured in the riot. Is this what they call human rights or justices?
Reporter: We've seen many people condemn some western media organizations for distorting facts in covering the Lhasa riot. They spontaneously set up some website portals or organized rallies to express their protests. What's your pinion about these behaviors?
Yu: It's actually quite normal. What really scared us are not the biased reports from the western media, but the one-sided view all over the world. To break through the unitary monopoly of the western media hegemony, we could make full use of the modern digital technology and various ways of communications and "citizen diplomacy" to publicize the truth.
Such distorted reporting by the western media did not only happen to the riot in Lhasa. After a careful look at their coverage about China in recent years, we'll easily find that their bias and prejudice over China are still inrooted.
Lies and bias
Mattel Group, the leading US toy producer recalled 20 million toys that made in its company in China. Despite the designing problems explained the Group, some US media kept on with the sensational news publicity with the theme of "toys with harmful lead", which badly damaged the image of the products made in China.
During the past year, some of the foreign news agencies also had a series news report on toothpaste consisting of diethylene glycol that were exported from China, the incident of poisoning medicine in Panama and the "Da Baitu" candy consisting of formaldehyde to embroider the food safety problem of China. As a matter of fact, some of these incidents were aroused by the different testing criterions in different countries and others by illegal export from China. And some incidents were nothing but the fake reports by some western media.
As the Olympic Games is nearing, Beijing's weather and environment have also been the target of some western media. During the "Good Luck Beijing" mountain bicycle testing event last year, a US media published an article title with "Beijing¡¦s pollution the greatest enemy of cyclists", which said "A US cyclist felt so hard to catch his breath due do the bad pollution that he couldn¡¦t help but give up the match". Then a piece of "suggestion" followed: to provide masks to the US athletes competing at the Beijing Games.
Other issues including the Taiwan question and Darfur issue were also made the material for sensationalized news "reported" by some western media.
Experts elaborate deep-rooted reasons for distorted reports
As a matter of fact, deep-rooted reasons such as the ideology are behind the news reports covered with "colored spectacles" by some western media.
CCTV: It is the common rules of news authenticity and objectivity in the media world. But we are very sorry to see that there were many fake news reports during the previous coverage on China's issues by the western media expect for the Lhasa riots. So can you tell us what is behind this circumstances?
Yu Guoming: It is because the western media has always been adopting the western value as core to observe and understand the world. So it is understandable that there are different reporting angles and logic between some developing countries and countries with different ideologies. To some extent, however, such a double standard that targets at developing countries and socialism countries has remained unchanged in western media. Take the example of the recent riots in France. Since France is one of their western allies, the US used the word "rioters" to refer to the ordinary people joining the riots while keeping tolerant and positive to the measures taken by the French government. However, their referring, logic and inclination were totally different from those they used in the French riots when covering the Lhasa riots in China despite such transparent crimes as hurting ordinary people¡¦s lives and attacking shops and government organs committed by the Lhasa rioters.
CCTV: What kind of mood should the Chinese government and people take to deal with the fake and distorted news report by western media?
Yu Guoming: I think the Chinese government and people should keep a rational mind as we are face up with the distorted and fake reports. I mean only emotional reactions, such as, accusing them of defaming and spreading rumors is far from enough. Especially in the area of international media, we have to face the existence of the established western media rules, its proportion in the world media area and its value composition. As a result, as I believe, to break the news hegemony of the western media, we should adopt a variety of measures.
Firstly, we must have our own voice, and make our voice louder with the strengthening economic and political power of our nation.
Secondly, various social forces should be mobilized to adopt the channel of "people's diplomacy¡¨. The reason is that the mass media is more than the news reports by news agencies and also includes exchanges between peoples, scholars and among all walks of life. As a matter of fact, this kind of "people's diplomacy" is playing a more and more important role both in terms of the pressure and influence it exerts on world issues. Sometimes, "people¡¦s diplomacy" makes greater effects than government diplomacy does.
Yin Yungong: We also have to adopt the up-to-date technology of communication such as the Internet and possibly the cell phone. Like many Chinese people, some overseas student in Canada and Germany expressed their satisfaction through SMS to the unfair treatment to China. We should use these technologies to show a real China to the world.
Perhaps a commentary from European Times March 21 best elaborates the fake news reports by some western media on the Lhasa riots: "As what they (western media) did to exaggerate the so-called 'China Threat', 'Chinese espionage' and Chinese toys consisting of lead, the Lhasa riots reports also showed up the double standard persistently adopted by the western media when dealing with China's issues.
A commentary polished on the same day on Lianhe Zaobao of Singapore said the Tibet independence clique had already exposed their motive to the world despite the excusing and even justifying words from some western media.
Finally, let's end today's program with a quotation from anti-CNN.com: "We are not aiming at the media itself, but the fake news reports by some western media; we are not aiming at the western people, but bias."