China

Paper’s reputation isn’t everything

It’s kind of flattering when the paper I work for, a state-run newspaper, puts out editorials and other papers write whole articles about it. I’m well aware of GT’s blunt reputation, to put it slightly, and it’s not totally undeserved. I’d even guess there’re probably some folks who take some pride in this. It’s not a bad thing for the world’s media to pay so much attention to the newspaper anytime a major event takes place in China. However, one issue with this attention is that it obscures a lot of good work done by GT journalists on local social and political issues. They don’t shy away from focusing on migrant workers, social disadvantaged people, or even the life of Uyghurs, which is especially pertinent after the Kunming train station terror attack. I hope that all those people who read GT and quote or write about the editorials are also checking out other sections like the local news and In Depth stories.

There’re stories about the situation in Wukang, a village in Guangdong that engaged in a 2011 standoff with the state over holding democratic elections, or a couple who lived through the Cultural Revolution and express their suffering through cartoons, or about life for Uighurs in Kunming after the train station attack. It’s not all about heavy issues as there’re articles about the popularity of Tibetan Buddhism or about young people willing to get married, in contrast to the contemporary trend of later marriages or not even getting married. The articles aren’t perfect and probably aren’t exactly at the same level as the NY Times or BBC, but take a chance. I know many might think of Chinese propaganda or censorship, but a lot of these articles provide good background on a lot of issues and even shine the light on some unsavory ones.

Regarding the article I linked to above in the first paragraph, it’s about the recent incident of a mainland couple being confronted by livid HKers after their kid peed on the side of the road. The tape of this incident went viral, attracting a lot of attention on the mainland. However, last week some HKers, about 30 in all, did a defecation protest, stooping down and pretending to crap, mocking the mainland children who’ve done it in public in HK. GT ran an editorial slamming these HKers as “skinheads” due to the ugliness of their behavior. The SCMP ran an article about this, which is what I linked to.

This mainland author, a Man Asia Literary Prize winner, urges Hong Kong to maintain its culture, by which he mainly means civility. He lauds Hong Kong society for its politeness and hygiene and makes a decent defense of HK:That’s why I feel very unhappy whenever I hear mainlanders talk about Hong Kong being a cultural desert. A place without culture would not produce civilised citizens, teachers or students.” That’s high praise, though perhaps it’s too much to put it all on HKers, even if talking about politeness and hygiene.  

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