ank God we’re not China

Newspapers & Technology Magazine - - Industry Mergers & Acquisitions - T ▶ BY MARC WIL­SON COLUM­NIST

(630) 739 9600

How’d you like to live in a coun­try where Don­ald J. Trump—or who­ever the pres­i­dent is—can in­stantly fire any reporter, edi­tor or news­caster who dis­pleases him?

I just spent a cou­ple of weeks in China, and that’s ex­actly the me­dia sit­u­a­tion in the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China. The state-owned me­dia—there are very few other kinds of me­dia—com­pletely kow­tow to the party and es­pe­cially to Com­mu­nist Party Sec­re­tary/ Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping.

They have no choice.

Our tour took us to many of the top tourist at­trac­tions in China. In Bei­jing, we saw the For­bid­den City, Tianan­men Square, the Sum­mer Palace, the Great Wall of China and Tem­ple of the Sun.

In Ti­bet, “the Roof of the World” in a val­ley of the Hi­malayas, we went to the Po­tala Palace, and the Jokhang Tem­ple, and other tem­ples once oc­cu­pied by the Dalai Lama. We walked the beau­ti­ful streets of Lhasa that are heav­ily pa­trolled by sol­diers armed with sub-ma­chine guns .

We saw the giant pan­das near Chengdu and the ter­ra­cotta sol­diers near Xi’an. We took a cruise of the Guilin Li River, and we walked the Bund in Shang­hai. We went through sev­eral ex­quis­ite mu­se­ums, and stayed at lux­ury ho­tels. We took nine flights on Air China in 14 days.

Ev­ery­where we went, I picked up the ever-present, free English­language news­pa­pers, such as the China Daily, Bei­jing to­day, Ti­bet Daily, and the Sichuan Daily.

All were state-owned and full-throated pro­pa­ganda or­gans of the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Party. All towed the party line. All had noth­ing but praise for the Com­mu­nist Party and its Chair­man/Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping. All were “good news” or­gans of the gov­ern­ment.

If you try to find non-gov­ern­ment-pro­duced news while in China, you are out of luck. The gov­ern­ment/Com­mu­nist Party blocks many im­por­tant tools on the In­ter­net, in­clud­ing Google and Face­book. Eaves­drop­ping and cen­sor­ship are said to be wide­spread, and all lo­cals were care­ful about what they told us, vis­it­ing Amer­i­cans.

An es­say in Chi­naFile by Jes­sica Batke and Oliver Mel­ton said, in part: “China’s Party-state is ex­tremely suc­cess­ful at con­trol­ling in­for­ma­tion. Even the most ba­sic in­sights into pol­icy de­lib­er­a­tions and pro­cesses, lead­ers’ in­ten­tions and views, and elite dy­nam­ics are fil­ters through a so­phis­ti­cated pro­pa­ganda and cen­sor­ship regime.”

When I asked our guides about the ever-present pres­ence of armed mil­i­tary troops (es­pe­cially in Ti­bet, which has an ac­tive out­lawed sep­a­ratist move­ment), their stan­dard an­swer was: “Yes, doesn’t it make you feel safe?”

No. Too many of the sol­diers looked like teenagers in hel­mets and flack-jack­ets with fin­gers on the trig­gers of semi-au­to­matic weapons.

Ev­ery news­pa­per I read touted the eco­nomic suc­cesses of China un­der the Com­mu­nist Party, es­pe­cially the fact that some 80 mil­lion Chi­nese had been moved out of ex­treme poverty in the last five years. Ev­ery­where we went we saw streets filled with new or near-new lux­ury

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