The Guangzhou Daily is the flagship of
China’s newspaper industry. Launched just after Liberation by the Guangzhou
Party Committee, the Daily spent 40 years as a Party organ, toeing the
Party line, bringing the CPC’s views to the people.
The Daily was the first of China’s papers to begin fending for itself
in 1990, setting up chain stores to sell its copy, increasing content from 4 to
60 pages over eight years and forming a conglomerate long before any other
Chinese papers had even thought of it. In 2000 the Daily hit revenues of
1.3 billion yuan ($156.6 million), with a circulation of 1.6 million by
The success of the Daily helped pave the way for more daring papers to
take the scene, specifically the papers of the Nan Fang Group, the Southern
Metropolis Daily and the Southern Weekend. The Nan Fang Group,
created about six years ago, aggressively reported on graft and migrant workers
and most recently SARS and the beating death of Sun Zhigang in Guangzhou’s
Now, the editors responsible for this journalistic excellence have been
rounded up and face indefinite prison terms and perhaps worse – according to
many the work of police officials whose careers were stalled by the story about
Sun. This is not the first time editors have been rounded up on trumped up
charges of corruption – the Guangzhou Daily faced the same persecution,
when the former editor-in-chief Liu Yuanjiang was sentenced to four years in
Jiang Zemin himself was catapulted into the upper ranks of the Communist
Party when he closed down the World Daily in Shanghai during the
Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.
The fall of the editors of the SMD this year and the World
Daily 15 years ago were met with approval by Beijing, but were actually
executed by local officials, for local reasons.
Hu’s Administration has led the people to believe that his would be an era
of reform and progress in the realm of politics as well as economics, but if
it were not for the reporting of the SMD, those promises would have been
completely empty. As it is, the breaking of the SARS
story and the Sun story raised such an uproar that, to maintain stability,
reforms were made.
Qiu Hou Suan Zhang – pay the debts after the harvest – refers to revenge
after the dust has settled: Cheng Yi Zhong, Yu HuaFeng and Li Minying, the
imprisoned former editors of the SMD, now fully understand these four
More Insecurity or More Stability?
In related news, the
Basic Law of Hong Kong has been diluted by a series of talks between Beijing
and Hong Kong officials – the end result being that Hong Kong’s dreams of democracy
have been put on hold, indefinitely.
After the outpouring of anger against the proposed Anti-Sedition Law last July,
Beijing, their Hong Kong puppets and the local business community decided to
take matters and put
them in the NPC’s hands, rather than risk the people of Hong Kong actually
having a say.
This bodes ill for the Falun Gong practitioners and Tiananmen "revisionists"
who, up until now, were allowed to air their views without having a member of
the PLA put a foot on their mouth.
And with the crackdown on journalism just across the way in Guangzhou, what
could the "new interpretation" of the Basic Law mean for the South China
Morning Post? The SCMP has retained a lot of its freedom since 1997
and regularly reports on matters the Nan Fang Daily papers wouldn’t touch …
how long can this last?
Close to home, China has paid the price in Taiwan
for its crude methods of suppression.
Taiwanese are quite aware of the events in Guangzhou and Hong Kong and have
come to realize that the CPC’s insecurity translates into broken promises concerning
reform and swift crackdowns on disobedience. Democracy in Taiwan is alive and
kicking – although hauntingly reminiscent of the 2000 US election, the
people of Taiwan have methods to address
the issues of a recount, invalid votes and the "assassination attempt" that
did not result in mass imprisonment.
The Mainland has shown Taiwan that in the year 2004, Chinese domestic
politics are crude, whimsical and fraught with insecurity.
China has also paid the price internationally.
It looked as if the EU might have lifted
a ban on arms sales with China, but at the last minute US objections and
nagging doubts about China’s domestic politics swayed the EU members to turn
Toward rival India.
Modeled after CNN, CCTV 9 covers from a government
point of view, but also alike CNN, the News Channel has developed into a professional,
streamlined operation with good, albeit biased, journalism.
Images of GIs battling Iraqis with clubs, dead and dying Iraqi children and
Condoleeza’s testimony are accompanied by not-so-subtle anti-war commentary
which one would be hard pressed to find on many American networks.
Coupled with domestic coverage of the AIDS crisis and measures taken to
address infectious diseases, CCTV 9 presents itself as a news source as reliable
as any major news network. They are even planning to launch a Spanish-language
program in the near future.
But perhaps the real hope for the establishment of critical journalism in
China is the work of overseas Chinese.
In cities like Vancouver,
Chinese journalists are writing stories the established local journalists are
unable to cover and bringing the Mainland to the West like only a Chinese journalist
can – exclusive interviews, breaking news, shedding light on China’s mysteries.
These journalists and their colleagues in Guangzhou are the real patriots of
China, if only the Chinese government sheds the fear that blinds them, then
perhaps they would see it as well.