ank God we’re not China
(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