China’s Media Ignores Relay Protests

THOUGH IT’S PLASTERED ACROSS broadsheets all over the world, news of the besieged Olympic torch relay is apparently not reaching many in China. According to the Asia Sentinel, Beijing is so far not making good on its promise of unfetterred Olympics coverage — perhaps that only applied to sports?

“Warm reception in cold London,” read the April 7 headline in China Daily, the country’s largest English language newspaper. Warm? Well, yes, in fact it was almost explosive if you read accounts from western newspapers and watched (erratically blacked out by panicked Chinese censors) CNN and BBC-World television accounts via mainland cable and satellite that detailed the hundreds of protestors who disrupted and twice almost extinguished the “sacred flame” as State news agency Xinhua continually refers to the torch.

It wasn’t until the ninth paragraph that China Daily hinted that the “Olympic fever gripping snowy London” was nearly fatal to Beijing’s best laid plans. And even then only 25 protesters were said to have been arrested – compared to 35 or 36 arrests and descriptions of hundreds along the 30-mile route in western press accounts […]

What sticks out most sorely in all of this is that, through its continued oppression of dissenting voices in journalism, China is proving all the protesters right; the country’s economy may have boomed, but in fundamental ways the system hasn’t changed.

As criticism from overseas gets noisier, some are worried about the emergence of familiar nationalist rhetoric in the Middle Kingdom — and what it may mean for the future of foreign relations.


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