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China calls for more control over Taiwan’s media (OzSoapbox)

Xinhua News Agency Vice President Zhou Xisheng (2nd R, Front) attends the closing ceremony of the fifth Cross-Straits Economic, Trade and Culture Forum in Changsha, capital of central China's Hunan Province, July 12, 2009.(Xinhua/Li Ga)

I’m not entirely sure why they were here, but last week saw the conclusion of an eight-day tour of Taiwan by a Chinese media delegation.

The official reason for the visit by the delegation, made up of ‘about 20 representatives from 10 major media organizations in China, including Xinhua, the People’s Daily, the Economic Daily News, China National Radio, China Radio International and China Central Television‘, was to

encourage “frank communication” and in-depth exchanges on the media and the impact of social media on traditional mass communication.

Led by Zhou Xisheng (周錫生), vice president of Xinhua news agency (Xinhua are pretty much the guys behind all the rubbish ‘wtf?’ news you hear coming out of China), Zhou stressed that

Only by strengthening cross-strait media exchanges can differences be reduced and avoided, the friendship deepened and cooperation expanded, adding that he welcomed colleagues in Taiwanese media to visit China more often and engage in more direct communication and cooperation.

The problem?

Taiwan’s media is (relatively) free.

Meanwhile the Chinese government control every aspect of their media.

So how’s that going to work?

Answer: It can’t.

Under the guise of ‘co-operation’, what the Chinese government Xinhua and co. are really asking is for there to be greater collaboration between Taiwanese news agencies and their Chinese counterparts. Specifically I imagine when we’re talking news and current events related to both sides of the strait.

Obviously with an election looming early next year, this is more critically important then usual.

If we ignore the fact that Chinese media is controlled by a totalitarian state for a second, there’s still the fundamental problem that in being so, there’s no room for compromise.

Taiwanese media are free to bring compromise to the table of negotiation, whereas their Chinese counterparts aren’t.

Xinhua and co. obviously are fully aware of this, so not only are the pleas for deeper synergy between the two media groups practically pointless, but really they’re nothing more than a call by the Chinese government seeking an increase in control in what gets published and broadcast in Taiwan.

As evidenced  by the inclusion of a government minder spokesperson with the delegation, Central Committee Propaganda Department Information Bureau Deputy Secretary Zhang Ye (張燁).

If the purpose of the visit was to truly strengthen ties between China and Taiwan’s media, what is the Chinese government doing sending propaganda cronies over to report on watch over the interaction?

With complete government level authority and control over the media in China, interaction between the two groups is pretty much limited to

Taiwan media: Hey so we want to publish a story on (insert something the Chinese government either denies exists, or disagree with). What do you think? Do you have any additional information?

Chinese media: Wow, that looks truly splendourous. Let us get back to you.

*5 minutes later*

Chinese media: Yes it’s us again. Look we’ve run it past our superiors discussed it amongst ourselves thoroughly and decided it’s not in the best interests of our people, uh the Chinese people to know about this. We’d ask that you don’t publish anything on the matter and instead wait for our government editors to publish something official before commenting.

Taiwanese media: Uh, but it happened, we have to report it! Our people have a right to know!

Chinese media: Yeah that’s not going to work for us. One second please.

(background noise)

I did tell them, they’re not listening!

Threaten to cut off their internet access… threaten to throw them in jail if they dare publish anything, this is outrageous! Don’t they remember that delegation we sent, Chinese blood is thicker than water! Get fucking Ma on the phone this is ridiculous, that idiot assured us that…

Chinese media: Yeah hi, look sorry about all that. We’re going to have to get back to you.


The absurdity of the proposal is only further highlighted in commentary from State Council Information Office Deputy Director Wang Guoqing (王國慶), who was also minding observing the Chinese media visitors.

In his speech Wang emphasised

the importance of cross-strait exchanges and said media exchanges should be objective, impartial, comprehensive and accurate

Objective, impartial and accurate? Was Wang doing a stand-up comedy routine or what?

Since when has objectivity, impartiality and accuracy been hallmarks of the Chinese government media?

The visit occurred amid reports that the top leadership in Beijing is considering “cultural reforms” that analysts say could be aimed at increasing official control over the media and the Internet to shape public opinion.

A meeting chaired by Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) last week called for the “mastering of new trends in cultural development” and an emphasis on “Chinese characteristics” as part of the proposed overhaul, Xinhua reported.

According to the Agence France-Presse (AFP), analysts said the measures would likely tighten Beijing’s grip on newspapers, TV and popular social networking sites.

“All cultural controls have the essential political mission to shape the people’s mind to not directly challenge the party rule, to accept the status quo,” Xiao Qiang (蕭強), an adjunct professor at the school of journalism at University of California at Berkeley, told AFP.

And the Chinese media want’s to introduce this to Taiwan…?

Yeah… good luck with that guys.


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