几天前James Fallows写了一篇博文：PR wizardry on display。博文大意是，中国政府在驳斥“猪流感来自中国”的谣言时表现过于激动，对于这种属于科学范畴，因此可以证有或证无的问题，动辄搬出“别有用心”、“诋毁中国国际形象”之类的情绪化字眼，于PR并无助益。
Dear Mr. Fallows,
I am also an oversea Chinese, but I don’t share the sentiment the Chinese reader has shown in his two messages to you. I’d like to share with you my opinion of his take on the role of the media, and China’s human rights issue.
I am always suspicious of the whole concept of a united “Western Media” against China as if Fox News, Le Monde, and Süddeutsche Zeitung were controlled by a multi-national Central Propaganda Department. As a Communications major, my understanding of the news media is that they should truthfully report and inform to the best of their knowledge. It is not the job of the Western media (or media of any origin) to “encourage” and babysit a foreign country. Maybe it’s time that the Chinese try getting used to the fact that every Western country is “unique” as well, some of them believe in things that we do not believe, and it’s OK.
The reader suggest that the Western media “tolerate the minor human rights problems and individual sufferings”. I’ll bet that this reader’s rights have never been violated before. Based on the message of the reader (that he was financially able to support himself to go to the West and has stayed “several years” so far), my guesses are that he’s from a comparatively well-heeded family; he lived in a secured environment when he was in China; and he’s not even remotely close to anyone who had been beaten to death because of police brutality (or any other kind of human rights violation). It’s very ironic to see such comment shortly after push-ups became suicide-inducive in Guizhou, and the game of “Eluding the Cat” became lethal in Yunnan. I wonder how many people have to die for ridiculous reasons before the reader could realize that the real problem is not that human rights issues are “minor” in China, but that they are too remote to have an impact on him.
We’re used to talk about what “the Chinese” think based on what we see on the Internet. A recent study by CNNIC shows that China has 300,000,000 netizens. A lot. But China also has a huge population of 1.3 billion. So those who can afford to access the Internet were less than a quarter of the population in the first place. And of those who do have access, the majority of them live in urban area, hence, in general much well-off than the rest of China (and pretty indifferent to the rest of China as well).
Since China has a huge population, tightly controlled domestic media, and usually very successful propaganda schemes, it’s very easy to be completely ignorant of the suffering of many fellow citizens and call a big issue “minor” simply because one is not personally affected by it. I see that the U.S has some human rights issues of her own. But no concerned American citizens would think that the “minor” problem of sexually abusing an Iraqi prisoner (not even a “fellow citizen”!) in Guantanamo is “tolerable”.
On the India analogy. India has two things that China desperately needs: democracy and transparency. It’ll be very strange for the Western media to “misunderstand” China and be “hostile” toward her, if China happens to have either.
By the way, thanks for the great blog.