Thursday, November 3, 2011

China Daily covers the U.S.

Departing from my Friday Random Observations, this week I’m going to offer a sample of coverage from today’s China Daily, the CPC’s official English language newspaper (I'll also make it a point to note that the views expressed here are my own; they do not represent the views of the Fulbright program).

First, here’s a piece on the op-ed page, on the U.S. decision to cut off funding for UNESCO following the agency’s admission of Palestine as a full member state. Headline: US funding cutoff sets a bad example. Sample quotes: “The United has again shown its unwillingness to accept the outcome of the democratic process it preaches, once the results runs contrary to its will…The U.S. is telling the world that big powers such as the US do not have to respect UN agencies and their rules if they disagree with the collective decisions.”

The headline for another news story is, “US census shows poor getting poorer.”

Another article about the UN global development ranking states, “When adjusted according to internal inequalities in health, education and income in the Inequality-adjusted HDI (IHDI), some of the wealthiest countries drop out of the HDI’s top 20 – the US falls from 4th to 32nd.”

Finally, on the back page, there are two stories about the Occupy Wall Street protests: “Police confront Oakland protesters with tear gas” (that’s the headline) and “Military veterans join the Occupy Wall Street movement” (again, the headline). From the latter article, here’s a quote, “Thousands of US military veterans are heeding the rallying cry of Occupy Wall Street, saying corporate contractors in Iraq made big money while the troops came home – and can’t make a living now.

Needless to say, it’s been truly fascinating to read China Daily and see how the U.S. is covered. Now, you might say that the coverage is cherry-picked to paint the U.S. in a bad light. I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with you on that. But, none of what is reported here is necessarily untrue (although you might disagree with some of the views expressed in the op-ed piece). It makes you think about coverage of China that runs in U.S. papers. Again, you might protest saying those papers are independent whereas the China Daily is run by the party here. True as well, but then why is it that the papers here started covering the Occupy Wall Street movement weeks before the U.S. papers did? When I attended the Fulbright orientation before I came here, one leading Sinologist argued that the media is much to blame for poor relations between our two countries. As I read U.S. papers from afar and Chinese papers from our “home” here, I can’t help but conclude that I have to agree with him.


  1. Divergent world views each espousing their own ideological interpretation of events- there's truth in there somewhere. Maybe. But I bet there's very little coverage of the Kim Kadashian divorce. We have the world beat with that one!

    Bet you miss your "US".


  2. Back when I was in graduate school I did a qualitative content analysis of the way the Soviet press covered US Civil Rights issues. As this was in the late 1960s, they didn't have to look far to find things to make us look bad. As you found, the issue was not false information, but the way it is selected and interpreted.