I was shopping at Costco and saw a piece in The (June 19) Economist about China’s secret media. I bought a copy and read it when I got home. One of the major reasons that the Qing Dynasty collapsed in 1911 was because the Manchu leaders were out of touch with what was going on. The royal princes lived behind high walls in a fantasy world of opulent gardens. The young Emperor and the Empress Dowager lived inside the Forbidden City or The Summer Palace—surrounded by ministers who filtered the news.
In Chinese whispers, The Economist reveals the different layers of news in today’s China. One layer is the cleansed version for the people then there are other layers depending on how high one is in the government. Each layer appears to have less censorship. What this piece reveals is that China’s top leaders wants to know what’s going on before anyone else does.
One example would be the SARS outbreak in 2003. According to the Economist, by the time China’s leaders learned about SARS, there had already been 300 cases and 5 deaths. Two days after learning about SARS, China’s leaders told the World Health Organization. Since Xinhua’s reporters and editors do such a great job filtering the news for mass consumption, it seems that China’s top leaders have to become sleuths to discover the missing facts.
Lloyd Lofthouse is the author of the award winning concubine saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you also marry her family and culture.
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