Chinese Media Representation of America after the June 4 Crackdown
Table of Contents
- Different Chinese Media-- People's Republic, Taiwan, Hong Kong
- People's Republic External Media's Representation of America
- Moderate Criticisms
- Changing Views to Open Door Policy
- Flexible Foreign Policy
- Aggressive Government But Friendly People?
- People's Republic Internal Media's Representation of America
- Taiwan Media's Representation of America
- Sanctions are supported by the public?
- U.S. as a Protector to Taiwan And a World Policeman
- Hong Kong Media's Representation of America
- Sanction as a dilemma
- The Death of Idealism in Hong Kong
Different Chinese Media-- People's Republic, Taiwan, Hong KongAfter the June 4 crackdown in Beijing Tianonmen, United States imposed sanctions against China. There are divagating views toward the sanctions and the image of the United States. The purpose of this paper is not only to describe those persepctives, but also to infer the nature and underlying premises of the three media based upon their coverage of this topic. My thesis statement is that all three saw what they expected to see, and their bias are resulted from three different viewpoints--flexible foreign policy of the People's Republic, the complex of "U.S. as protector" of Taiwan, and "a-ideology" of Hong Kong.
Chinese media is a broad term. In order to avoid confusion, the reader should be aware that in this paper Chinese media refers to both People's Republic, Taiwan (Republic of China), and Hong Kong media and each of them will be specified in different cases.
This paper is a literature research by reviewing the media's editorials in those three areas. The data that I reviewed are print media : Beijing Review and China Youth Daily of People's Republic China, United Daily News of Taiwan, and Nineties of Hong Kong.
By the audience segments, People's Republic media can be classified into two categories: internal media--namely, People's Daily and China Daily News - which aims their audience at the mainland Chinese people, and external media such as Beijing Review and China Daily, which circulates among foreign readers. The People's Republic media screen the input of information in order to determine what the people need to know. There are differences of news coverage and editorial approaches between the internal and external media, but both of them are manipulated by the government.
People's Republic External Media's Representation of America
Moderate CriticismsAfter the June Four incident, the English version of Beijing Review took pains in commenting on American reactions. The Review's audience is mainly English speakers, especially Americans. The tone of criticisms against America is generally moderate in Beijing Review because one of its missions is to promote economic cooperation between People's Republic of China and Capitalist countries.
After the June 4 massacre, Beijing Review printed three articles describing American culture and society in the column entitled "North American Special." Although they reported that some Americans are lazy, it also observed the fact that Americans pay high attention to special education and "compared with the United States, China still has a long way to go in this respect" (Zhang et al, July 17-23, 1989).
From June 26 to December 3, Beijing Review have printed 28 articles concerning America but only four of them accuse America of stirring up the "rebellion" and imposing sanctions against China. The pitch of Beijing Review in criticisms is low, compared with the pejorative words such as "gang members", "traitor", "insane man" used by People's Daily to attack the Chinese democratic leaders.
For example, Chen Xitong said that the Chinese government deeply regrets the Western media distorted the facts of the June 4 incident, but the government still continues to develop friendly relations with all countries in the world on the basis of the five principles of Peaceful Coexistence (July 17-21, 1989).
In the article Opposing Interference in Other Countries' Internal Affairs Through Human Rights in Beijing review, Yi Ding said that "a certain country has used its embassy to provide shelter for a criminal wanted by the host country, intervening in the host's normal judicial activities; allowed wanted criminals to conduct activities aimed at subverting another government; discussed the internal affairs of another country in its own Congress and imposed economic sanctions on that country just because they share different values (November 6-12, 1989). Every one can tell that "a certain country" refers to America. The reason that Yi did not spell out the name is probably to avoid further deteriorate the Sino-US relations.
Interestingly enough, there are many articles of promoting Sino-U.S. relations than accusation. For example, Chinese ambassador Han Xu did not say even a strong word to blame the U.S.; instead he raised the concern of mutual interests of Sino-US cooperation because up to September 1989, US investment, which spreads over in 660 projects, has accumulated to $3.4 billion (Han Xu, 1989).
In addition, former Chinese Ambassador to the United States Chai Zemin held the same view as Han Xu. He said that the huge Chinese market is very attractive to U.S. businessmen. These businessmen prefer to overcome various difficulties to promote Sino-US relations; it is very unlikely that the United States would give up its strategic and business interests (October 16-22, 1989).
Changing Views to Open Door PolicyThe most interesting point is the change of China's view to the Open Door Policy. In 1899 when European countries attempted to divide and conquer China, Secretary of State of the U.S. John Hay accepted the proposal by a British A.E. Hippisley to announce the Open Door Policy. This policy called upon the European powers to respect China's sovereignty of territory and custom, and equal trade opportunities to every nation.
Since the establishment of People's Republic of China in 1949, Chinese historians had said that the Open Door Policy was only a cover of the U.S. invasion. Chinese writer Wang Man Chi (1950) emphasized that the Open Door Policy fundamentally was not opposed to European invasions of China; it recognized the lands possessed by them and what the United States really demanded was to have equal share of the profits. So-called Open Door Policy meant European countries should open their spheres to America. Therefore it was only another smoke screen of divide and conquer. At the Washington Summit in 1923, the Open Door Policy was again voiced by Root, the American representative. Again Wang stressed that the purpose of Root's proposal was to put China under the power of Western nations in order to avoid the monopoly by Japan.
The same viewpoint had been held by many Chinese historians. A recent example is the comment by Lui Jienyi (1988 September). He said that the negotiation between the U.S. government and other nations concerning Chinese interests was held without the consent of the Qing government. Ironically it was an intrusion to the sovereignty of China.
Surprisingly, the evaluation of the Open Door Policy has been changed drastically after June 4 crackdown. In Beijing Review, Chinese scholar Yang Yusheng (1989 November) praised the Open Door Policy for it "was implemented at a time when China was on the verge of being partitioned. The U.S. reiterated it again and again whenever China was facing a similar crisis. Even though the Open Door Policy was proposed in the interests of the U.S., the result was to maintain the balance of power in this region and prevent Russia and particularly Japan from dominating China and East Asia" (p.34).
Flexible Foreign PolicyConsidering the historical context, the editorials of Beijing Review are not surprising. As Harry Harding (1984) said, although China dare to declare open opposition to the U.S., it shows flexibility in its day-to-day diplomacy.
In the Korean War the People Liberation Army of China adopted the name "Chinese People's Volunteers". According to Allen Whiting (Fall, 1980), the purpose of naming "volunteers" was to reduce the risk of open confrontation.
In the Quemoy crisis of 1958, People's Republic troops held their fire when American ships first conveyed Chinese Nationalist supplies from Taiwan. Only after the Seventh Fleet halted at three-mile line did long-range guns open up and sink the Taiwan transports. At the same time, although Zhou Enlai accused America as "invaders" and "the most brutal enemy", he still suggested to negotiate with the U.S. government (People's Daily: September 7, 1958).
From 1965 to 1968 Chinese anti-aircraft shot down American bombers over North Vietnam as well as China. Meanwhile fifty thousand Chinese soldiers were deployed to assist North Vietnamese. But in order to avoid open provocation, the Chinese government did not reveal its role in the war until ten years later (Whiting, 1980).
In 1985 China issued an invitation for U.S. warships to visit Qingdao. But later Party Secretary Hu Yaobang publicly insisted at a news conference that China would not allow U.S. vessels to enter Chinese waters unless Beijing was assured that they did not carry nuclear weapons (Ross, 1989). Nevertheless, the U.S. navy visited China without revealing whether they carried nuclear warheads or not.
Besides minimizing military and diplomatic conflicts, Beijing also compromised with Washington in Taiwan problem. It is a well-known fact that the Chinese government is strongly opposed to American intervention in Taiwan affairs.
During the Quemoy crisis the Chinese media insisted that it was a civil war and thus America had no right to propose a cease fire (People's Daily, October 11, 1958). Another Chinese editorial said that even the United Nations had no authority to handle the issue for "any Chinese who has esteem would not approve that" (People's Daily, October 30, 1958: p.1) In actual, Beijing government practises a flexible policy to Taiwan problem.
After China and the U.S. had normalized their relations in 1978-79, Washington declared its willingness to sell non-lethal weapons to Beijing on case-to-case basis. However, Beijing denied the possibility of buying U.S. weapons if the U.S. continued to sell arms to Taiwan. In spite of that, in 1980s China started to purchase U.S. weapons such as F-8 fighters (Oksenberg, 1987).
In 1981 Senator Mark Hayfield proposed that President Reagan should play the role of mediator to bridge the chasm between People's Republic of China and Republic of China as how Jimmy Carter resolved the conflicts between Israel and Egypt. Los Angeles Times and Christian Science Monitor disagreed to the proposal. Surprisingly, Beijing Review declared that China was interested in the proposal. In 1986 when interviewed with Mike Wallace in the show "60 Minutes", Deng Xiaoping expressed that the U.S. should encourage Taiwan to communicate with People's Republic China in the aspects of trade, transportation and postal service (Lin Chengyi, 1988).
In early 1989 the mainland China's magazine Outlook prepared to publish an article that criticized America's policies for meddling in Taiwan affairs. Surprisingly, the article was cancelled at the last moment. The blank page left a note announcing that the article did not fit the current foreign policy of the Chinese government. It implies that somehow China's relations with the U.S. ranks higher priority than the Taiwan problem.
With the above background, the low key of criticisms to America by Beijing review could be viewed as a tradition of Chinese flexible foreign policy.
Aggressive Government But Friendly People?Another flexible practice of the Chinese external media is that they attempted to relief the tensions between the two nations by praising American people. American government intervention to the turmoil had been criticized but there was almost no mention of the aids to Chinese democrats by American civilians. In contrast the media printed numerous stories about the assistance and contributions to China by American scientists, educators and businessmen. In the article entitled China Has Not Been Isolated in Beijing Review, Zhou Jinghong cited some letters from their readers in foreign countries, including the United States, as the evidence that many foreign civilians understand and support the move by the Chinese government (November 20-26, 1989).
The Beijing Regime claims that it entirely represents the will of people, and thus they named their administration as "People's Government", the army as "People Liberation Army" and the Congress as "People National Congress". In their eyes, Western governments are not "of the people, by the people or for the people". Distinguishing foreign governments from people is a tradition of Chinese politics that can be traced back to the essay On Policy by Mao Tsetung in 1940. After the Communist army had expelled the US-supported Nationalists out of mainland in 1949, Wang Manchi (1950) stated that it must carefully distinguish American people from American rulers because there is a genuine friendship between the people of two nations. For example, during the three revolutions in China, Americans encouraged Communists a lot; during the Sino-Japanese war Americans supplied Chinese abundant aids.
During the Quemoy Crisis in 1958, People's Daily blamed the problem only on the U.S. government and said that "America is a great nation. Americans are kind and they want peace instead of wars." (October 13, 1958). Mao Tsetung (1959) also asserted that "Americans are nice and bad guys are only a small portion. The majority is good people. The friendship between Chinese and Americans would be developed gradually." (p.4).
Do American civilians react to the June 4 massacre more moderate than the American government? The following facts show the answer:
Beijing Review and People's Daily accused only one American medium--Voice of America, the worldwide broadcasting station owned by the U.S. government (June 26 - July 2, 1989). In fact, during and after the demonstration, private owned American media such as CNN, ABC, NBC and many other publications also report issues that contradicted the proclamation of the Chinese government.
In May 1989, with the support of Americans, a Chinese scholar set up the China Information Center at Boston. The well-known American journalist Ted Koppel strongly recommended other reporters in ABC to keep in touch with the China Information Center. Furthermore, former American Ambassador to the United Nations Jean KirkPatric had promised to help the center in raising fund. As a matter of fact, the center has both American and Chinese employees (United Daily News November 6, 1989).
When the U.S. Congress proposed to permit Chinese students to stay in America due to the potential persecutions at home, The Lutheran Office for Governmental Affairs monitored the issue very closely. Delbert Anderson, the Secretary of East Asia Division for Global Mission openly called for concerns to those Chinese students (Entee, October 1989).
In November 2, 1989, cooperated with fifteen European publications, a newspaper in Los Angeles distributed a faked People's Daily through fax machines in order to counter the anti-democratic view by the People's Republic media. According to the newspaper, the project was initiated by a group of Chinese journalists and the China Information center. The owner of the newspaper J. Levin paid the full cost, five thousand dollars, of the operation (United Daily News, November 1, 1989). Although the project was partly operated and wholly financed by the Americans, on November 29 the People's Republic of China Embassy in the U.S. pointed out that the faked People's Daily was made by Democratic Chinese Front (Sing Pao, December 2, 1989).
The Long Bow Group, which has produced six prize-winning documentaries about rural China, has taken on a film project-- drawing on hundreds of hours of video, film, and taped interviews. It will put together a documentary on the Beijing Spring which "will counter the disinformation and reversals of reality now being disseminated worldwide by the Chinese government." In addition, documentation of the realities of the Beijing massacre is under way at several American academic centers such as the University of Chicago and Harvard's Fairbank Center (China Now, Fall, 1989).
Across America there are numerous American civilians who share sympathy with the Chinese students. They show their support by various means such as prayer, marching and donation. The above examples are only a few of them.
The only American civilian whom was accused by the Chinese government is George Soros. Soros is a successful businessmen who was born in Hungary. Since 1984 he had been founded several development funds for a number of Socialist nations such as Hungary, Poland, the Soviet Union and China. China Reform and Open Fund was co-founded by Soros and Chinese Research Institute for Economic System Reform in 1986. After the June 4 oppression, several research fellows at the institute were exiled out of China. The China Reform and Open Fund has been accused as being related to Central Intelligence Agent. In August Soros sent his attorney Jerome Cohen to China with the attempt of helping the Chinese who had been arrested for their connections with the Fund (Lock, September 1989). It is probable that the Chinese government would perceive his action as an intervention into Chinese internal politics. Based on the assumption that American people are "nice", in the sense that they would not go against the Chinese government's policy, Beijing tends to interpret the "unfriendly" actions by American civilians such as Soros are only controlled by CIA or other governmental offices, not of their own accord.
People's Republic Internal Media's Representation of AmericaAfter the Beijing crackdown, China Youth Daily reprinted a series of articles by Cheung Hoitu. Those articles were written in 1984 based upon Cheung's experience in America. The Daily renamed the series of articles as Talking about America- Concerning Democracy, Freedom, Equality and Human Rights. These four political concepts that were highlighted in the title are the ideals strongly pursued by students in China today. The reason that China Youth Daily reprinted them is obviously to try to "re-educate" Chinese young people who perceive American democracy and lifestyle worthy to be adopted by China.
Cheung Hoitu analyzed American government and society as follows :
1. Freedom: America is a free society but many Americans misuse the freedom. For instance, people do not care how they dress. Once Cheung saw a man wearing a bra on a street. In New York pornographic materials are easily available everywhere but they are protected under the name of freedom (September 13, 1989).
2. Media: Most of American media such as Washington Post and Wall Street Journal narrowly represent the interests of monopolistic capitalists. They would not print any opinions which go against their interests (September 15, 1989).
Moreover, American media are reluctant to print any Marxist viewpoints because Americans have a "phobia of Communism". Their so-called "objectivity" and "fairness" depend on situations. For example, when they reported strikes by trade unions, they tend to promote reconciliation between employers and employees in order to prevent them from starting a revolution (September 28, 1989).
Cheung argued that though sometimes American media criticize the government, this does not mean that the media really speak for the people. For instance, at the beginning of the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, New York Times strongly supported the intervention but later it printed the controversial Pentagon Papers. Its purpose was not to anti-war; actually the change in its attitude was due to its shifting political and economic interests. Moreover, most American media support their government to interfere with Chinese internal affairs such as the Taiwan problem. Voice of America is another example of faked objectivity and fairness of American media. VOA sometimes criticizes the US government's policies, but basically it is a propaganda controlled by the government (October 6, 1989).
3. Democracy: American democracy, by its essence, is the "democracy of US dollars" (October 26, 1989: p.2). In the presidential elections from 1860 to 1976, twenty-three out of 30 times the candidates who were elected spent much more money in campaigns than their counterparts (November 2, 1989).
Moreover, there are many "dirty" strategies used by American politicians such as digging out opponents' secrets in order to ruin their reputations. Sometimes even assassination was applied to do away with opponents such as the deaths of John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy (sic.) (October 7, 1989).
American politics is dominated by the two big parties-- Republicans and Democrats, both represent the interests of Capitalists (October 18, 1989). Besides the big two, there are several small political parties, interest groups and pressure groups. Americans can tolerate all kinds of radical parties such as Ku Klux Klan, and Neo-Nazi except the Communist party. And again the author blamed it on the "phobia of Communism" (November 14, 1989).
4. Equality: American equality is also deceiving for except rich people, Americans can hardly afford to hire a lawyer. The clients of American attorneys are mostly bourgeois and monopolistic corporations (October 18, 1989)
Racial discrimination is more evidence for the argument that the U.S. has no authentic equality. Although a few Blacks had gone into significant positions in the government and some became successful business men, the majority of Negroes are still discriminated by Whites. Many White parents do not want their children to attend school with Black children (November 15, 1989).
Interestingly enough, although in Beijing Review former Chinese Ambassador to the United States Chai Zemin mentioned some of the same criticisms such as expensive campaigns for elections and lack of Marxist views, he only mentioned these in four brief sentences, not a series of articles as Cheung Hoitu did (October 16-22, 1987). It does not suggest that there are divergent views toward America within the Chinese internal and external media. Rather it is just a practice of flexible policy.
American social problems such as pornography and racial discrimination that mentioned by Cheung are well-known facts. However, it is still a great leap for Cheung to pass such judgement that America has no authentic democracy and equality. His opinions about America is propaganda rather than scholastic analysis. Thus, I have no intention to argue with him point by point.
Taiwan Media's Representation of America
Sanctions are supported by the public?United Daily News, a major Taiwan newspaper, strongly advocates American sanctions against People's Republic China. In July 16, 1989 the daily printed an essay entitled Sanctions against Communist China -- President Bush Should Not Be a Wimp! The article was contributed by Shui Haimin, the director of Washington branch of United Daily News. It reported that there is a conflict between the Congress and President Bush; "the Senate and the House of representatives reflect the obvious public opinions to demand President Bush to adopt stronger economic sanctions against Communist China". Shui Haimin praised those senators who have political wisdom and moral courage to reflect the public opinions and go against the will of the President. President Bush said on July 5 that he would adopt the policies which are backed up by the Congress. The overwhelming approval of the amendment indicated that sanctions are favored by American people. Since "President Bush understands China problems and public opinions," Shui Haimin questioned whether President Bush could turn a deaf ear to the public opinions to veto the sanctions. In his conclusion, Shui Haimin admired the American political system because the checks and balance among the President, the Congress and the Supreme Court can avoid dictatorship (p.1).
Two days later the daily printed another pro-sanctions editorial by Fu Yiki. The commentary is entitled The Government Goes against the Will of People -- Is That the End of American Sanctions? It contrasted the U.S. government moderate reactions to Communist China and American civilians' stronger actions. Fu reported that President Bush was unwillingly to impose embargo of agricultural products against People's Republic. At the same time, many American companies boycotted the trade with Communist China (United Daily News, July 18: p.1).
On August 29 United Daily News mocked President Bush that the ban of arms sales to China was useless. The heading of the article is Ban on Arms Sales Makes Communist China Laughs. The reporter argued that many weapons had been shipped to Communist China before the sanctions. The only item that was affected by the embargo is F-8 fighters, which was scheduled to be mass produced after 1991. The writer scoffed that the Bush's decision only gave holidays to forty Chinese who work in Long Island for the F-8 project (p.1).
The above three articles are unprofessional in the standards of modern journalism. First, the titles are very sensational and suggestive. To be fair, I would not blame this on the writers because usually the editor is the one who gives the headings or the titles. In Shui's article, the title suggests that if President Bush does not impose strong sanctions, he would be a wimp. In Fu's article, the title implies that the policy of limited sanctions is wrong because it is contradicted by public opinions. The title of the last commentary is the most unacceptable one. How could the daily know the Communist Chinese leaders laugh at President Bush?
On August 29, another article in the United Daily News said that Deng Xiaoping apologized to President Bush for the Beijing tragedy. A Chinese American scholar who visited Deng in August 1989 was the messenger (p.1). The article quoted "Deng's words": "We really made mistakes." The validity of this news is very doubtful. When Richard Nixon visited China in November 1989, Deng Xiaoping told him "we can never forget state sovereignty and national honor, nor can we do away with national self-respect." (Beijing Review, November 13-17, 1989 : pp.9-10) It is unbelievable that Deng Xiaoping would give up his honor and self-respect to concede mistakes to President Bush.
On October 5, the daily reprinted an article written by Flora Lewi in New York Times. The article was retitled as American Naive Expectation Results in Shocks -- Double Standards to Human Rights Lead Communist China Corrupts in People's Republic. It stated that since 1971 the U.S. has adopted a looser standard to human right problems in People's Republic China (p.1). The content of the editorial does not imply that double standards of human rights and the power abuse by Chinese leaders are under a cause and effect relationship. However, the Chinese title sounds like America is highly responsible for that, or even directly leads to Chinese power abuse.
During Nixon's visit in China, New York Times printed an editorial entitled Same Nixon, Different China on November 4 (A24). United Daily News reprinted it on November 5. The article was given a new title as Nixon Tells Communist China the Hard Fact that the U.S. Cannot Endorse A Brutal Political Leadership (November 5, p.1). On November 2, 1989 another article in New York Times entitled U.S. Dismay Remains a Fact, Nixon Tells China stated that although Nixon told a "tough fact" to China, he coupled it "with a plea for a move toward rebuilding Chinese-American relations". But United Daily News did not reprinted this piece of information. Obviously the daily expect the U.S. would not support Communist China. Unlike People's Republic media which emphasize Nixon's friendship with People's Republic, Taiwan media stress Nixon's tough criticisms of People's Republic of China. By retitling, United Daily News manipulated New York Times for self-serving.
On November 17, United Daily News printed an article headed The U.S. Set the Primary Criterion of Renormalization of U.S.-China Relation as Beiping (sic) should Form a New Government (p.1). It is impossible for the U.S. government to announce openly that the Chinese Communist government should be replaced. Contextually, the speech by the U.S. official meant the U.S. government would consider to resume the relations with China if China improves her human right policies, releases political prisoners and abandons the military rule. In contrast to the expectation of United Daily News, President Bush gradually loosens the sanctions and sent National Security advisor Brent Scowcroft to visit China.
U.S. as a Protector to Taiwan And a World PolicemanUnited Daily News is very dissatisfied with the ineffective and inadequate American punishments against People's Republic of China, but it did not propose what the adequate penalties should be and did not cite any evident to prove that heavy sanctions could help the democratic movement. Besides expecting stronger American sanctions, the daily tend to emphasize the news concerning "American support and recognition" to Taiwan. Whenever there are American scholars and politicians make positive comments to Taiwan, or the U.S. declares the willingness to recognize Taiwan's status in an international organization, the daily prints it on the front page and gave it a charming heading.
Actually the editorials in United Daily News are propaganda based on a hidden assumption : the United states is the world policeman and she should implement police action against injustice foreign regimes. By reviewing history, the attitude of United Daily News is understandable. In 1898, America's Open Door Policy prevented China from being conquered by European powers. After the Boxer uprising in 1900, the United States used the damage from the Qing regime to build schools in China and sponsored Chinese Students to study in America. At the Paris Summit in 1919, the U.S. representative attempted to help the Chinese representative to fight for the return of Shantung from Japan.
During World War Two, America aids to Nationalist troops played an vital role in the resistance to the Japanese offense. Two years after Kumintong retreated from People's Republic to Formosa, the Truman and Chiang administrations signed the Mutual Defense Assistance Agreement to protect the last territory of Nationalists. In 1953 the U.S. started the direct military aids to Taiwan. In 1958, the arms transfer such as "Side-winder" and "Howitzer" from the U.S. to Taiwan and the patrolling of seventh fleet near Quemoy effectively blocked the assail of Communist navy.
In 1978-79 the U.S. and People's Republic established diplomatic relations. However, President Jimmy Carter said that if Communist China assaults Taiwan, the U.S. would interfere it such as to transfer advanced weapons to Taiwan immediately and to halt the China-American diplomatic relations (Lin, 1989)
For a hundred years, the U.S. played an extremely significant role in ensuring China's interests or security. The view of Lin Chengyi, associate researcher of Institute of American Culture, Academia Sinica, can typically reflect the perception of the U.S. as a protector or even a world policeman that shared by many Taiwan people. Lin (June, 1988) said that if mainland China attacks Free China, the U.S. should politically and military interfere it; "if the U.S. declare that she would not stand neutral in the dispute, the chances of peaceful resolving Taiwan problem by Communist and Nationalist governments would be higher" (p.31).
There are still a few Taiwanese who object the above widespread attitude. For instance, the publisher of China Magazine Wu Chouyuan is upset by the American intervention and cried that Chinese people should handle our own fate (January, 1989)
Hong Kong Media's Representation of America
Sanction as a dilemmaNineties magazine of Hong Kong has a column entitled Under the Statute of Liberty. The column is editorials about America by Chinese Americans. Nineties does not distort the image of America as People's Republic media do. Also unlike People's Republic and Taiwan media, Nineties editorials tend to throw out questions rather than propagate a firm position or an absolute ideology.
The viewpoint to American sanctions by Yang Weimin, a columnist of Nineties is an example. Yang classified sanctions into two levels. The purpose of the first level sanctions is to warn Chinese leaders that the world disapproves their practices. The ultimate goal of the second level sanctions is to deteriorate Chinese economy. It assumes that when the economy collapses, the government will collapse too.
Yang asserted that the first level is effective because the Chinese government is afraid of further economic sanctions. His evident is that the Chinese government has reduced the degree of persecution to Chinese people. Furthermore, it produced a video tape to reveal the "truth" of the turmoil to the outside world in order to regain its international reputation.
On one hand Yang stated that Americans should not be worry that sanctions might force China to ally with the Soviet Union. Simply because the Soviet Union is busy with her own reforms. On the other hand, Yang questioned whether the second level sanctions would be effective. For economic collapse during the Great leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution did not make the Chinese government collapse. He also doubted the validity of assumption of anti-sanctions that helping China to develop economy will lead to democratization of politics because the chinese senior leaders would not let this happen.
In his conclusion he regarded the problem as a dilemma -- heavy sanctions may push China to close her door again; foreign aids to China would not lead to democratization of her politics. He said what wee can do at this moment is only to wait for the deaths of those old men (September 1989).
Again Yang did not prove that Chinese leaders are really afraid of further economic sanctions. Under what criteria Yang claimed that the Chinese government has reduced the oppression to Chinese people? How could Yang know the production of the video tape about the turmoil was caused by foreign criticisms?
Another critic of Nineties Tung Tingshan said that the June 4 massacre broke the dreams of many Americans who favored Socialist China before. For example, Helen Snow, widow of well-known American journalist Edgar Snow, told Tung that she felt like some bodies were dead in her family when she was informed about the Beijing bloodshed. William Hinton made the decision to leave Beijing for his China dream entirely broke. American writer Podehevz who was an old friend of Chinese Communists abandoned his plan of writing an autobiography about his experience in China. Tung regrets his naive idealism. He pointed out that many middle-age Americans also regret of their idealism in 60s such as the participation in anti-Vietnam War, civil right and other movements. Tung cited two radicals in the '60s, David Horowitz and Peter Collier as an example. They wrote a book entitled Destructive generation: Second Thoughts about the 60s. to deny the values that they expressed in the magazine Ramparts. Moreover, they formed a "Re-evaluation of the Past movement". Tung said that nowadays Neo-conservative power has revived in America. They are extremely anti-Communism and in some aspects they are more conservative than Mccarthy. They accuse people who go against the US government policy as "Neo-fellow Travelers"--a label denotes pro-communists. And they blamed the problem of provety, drug and sex abuse, and high crime rate on the movements in the '60s. Tung questioned whether it would be another mistake for Americans to go to the ultra-right polar from the ultra-left (September 1989).
The Death of Idealism in Hong KongHumans tend to project their own problems on others. In fact, the phenomenon in America that Tung described also happened in Hong Kong. In the 1960s and 1970s idealism, nationalism and Socialism were dominant ideologies among Hong kong college students and young people. At that time there was a widespread slogan: "Concerning Society and Recognizing Homecountry". The "Homecountry" was referred to People's Republic of China, which symbolized a perfect society. In pursuit of political and social justice, numerous social and political protests and conflicts between protesters and policemen occurred in Victoria Park, Causeway Bay.
After the Gang of Four was arrested and the truths of the Cultural Revolution were gradually disclosed, many middle-age people gave up their dreams. Nineties magazine, originally named Seventies, was founded during the student movement. In the late 70s, the journal was renamed as Nineties and changed his attitude from supporting Socialist China to challenging and questioning. In 1980 the editor-in-chief of Nineties Li Yee published a book entitled From Recognition to Re-evaluation of China. By the central theme this book is congruent to Destructive Generation: Second Thoughts the 60s. In his book, Li Yee deeply regretted his enthusiasm to China and Marxism. It might not be a coincident for Nineties to print Tung's article. The essay by Tung, by its underlying writing motive, is not a description of American Neo-Conservatism, but a confession of blind-folowing and an evaluation of the values of ideologies.
Another free lancer of Nineties professor Lin Yusheng, who teachs at the University of Wisconsin, described ideology in a negative way. Lin said that since the May Four Movement Chinese intellectuals have been trapped in the "abyss" of ideology. He agreed with the definition of ideology introduced by sociologist Edward Schills: ideology is a cognitive approach and moral conviction about mankind and society. It is highly systematic and tends to integrate various elements of the system into a few principal values such as "equality" and "salvation." Usually it is a close system that rejects all opposite opinions. The propaganda of ideology requires a charismatic leader, who tends to alienate himself/herself from modern knowledge and common sense. In short, Lin blamed the modern China problems on Chinese obsession with ideology (October 1989).
ConclusionBy looking in a mirror, one can understand oneself better. In this thesis, America is treated as a mirror that reflects the mentalities of People's Republic, Taiwan and Hong Kong media. There are similarities and differences among the Chinese media's editorials concerning America. First, both of them reported what they expect to see. People's Republic media wished that American civilians would support China. Therefore they nelgect the fact that quite a few American people support Chinese democrats. United Daily News expected the U.S. would not reconcilate with the People's Republic. As a result, they stressed the disapproval of the crackdown by Nixon but omitted his effort of working for re-normalization. Moreover, the daily also exaggerated that the U.S. wants Beijing "to have a new government". In regard to the Hong Kong medium, Yang Weimin believed that first level sanctions could work and hastily cited some so-called evidences. It is no wonder that the above problem occurs among Chinese journalists. Because when we deal with China problem, we are emotionally involved instead of detaching from the subject.
Beijing Review, China Youth Daily and United Daily News are propaganda. Both of them tend to use sensational words and claim that their views are supported by the majority of people. The rationale of People's Republic media is nationalism. At the other extreme, United Daily News looks at the world under the premise that the United States is a protector for Taiwan to lean on. In contrast, Nineties is a typical Hong Kong journal since it reflects the lack of identities and ideologies among Hong kong people. The magazine plays a role of challenging and questioning instead of propagating.
When Beijing Review promoted the Sino-U.S. technological and economic co-operation and objects American sanctions, China Youth Daily shouldered the mission of re-educating young people to understand how corrupt American society is. United Daily News encouraged stronger sanctions and praised American political system. But Nineties neither affirmed nor ojected further sanctions. In addition, it neither described America as a trashcan nor as a paradise. Yang only passively waited for the deaths of Chinese senior leaders; Tung hardly identified himself with leftist or rightist ideology; and Professor Lin regarded ideology as the source of the modern problem for the anti-intellectual nature of ideology.
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