A group of Beijing-based foreign correspondents has been being escorted to Lhasa to report on the situation there, Xinhua reports. This 26-strong “international media delegation” includes representatives of the AP, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Russian, Japanese and Taiwanese news agencies, al-Jazeera and the South China Morning Post. TV media such as CNN and BBC appear to be absent from the officially organized three-day trip. What will be interesting is not so much what the delegation reports as how they report it.
Tag Archives: Tibet
Xinhua annotates screen shots from Western TV and websites to show up reporting errors in their coverage of Tibet.
This follows Sunday’s apology by German TV station RTL for using a picture of Tibetan protestors in Katmandu in a report on the recent disturbances in Lhasa.
More Xinhua excoriation of the CNN, BBC and the Berliner Morgenpost here.
Pick at the little errors to unravel the greater truth.
The investigation started a long time before the recent troubles in Tibet, but the lesson will not be lost on web sites in China offering video that may not be to the authorities’ liking.
The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television has banned 25 sites, taken over five and warned a further 32 for violating the recently announced rules governing video web sites and requiring sites offering audio and video content to be licensed. The punishments followed a two month investigation that concluded today, according to Xinhua.
The violations were of the prohibition on “obscene, fear-inspiring or violent content or program tat might endanger nation security and interests, or for offering such services without the required qualifications and certificates.” Among those hit with a warning was tudou.com, one of China’s most popular video sharing sites.
Meanwhile, on Tibet directly and this Bystander’s theme of the past couple of days, this Xinhua headline says it all
Arrest warrants issued against 24 criminal suspects in Lhasa riot.
This Bystander noted earlier how Beijing’s clampdown on media coverage was polarizing views inside and outside of China about what is happening in Tibet. The FT‘s Richard McGregor and Jamil Anderlini have done the reporting to back up my assertion. This paragraph is telling:
One intellectual from Beijing, usually vehemently opposed to the party, said Tibetans had been “slaves” before China “liberated” them, an act repaid with ingratitude and violence. “How could Tibet be a country without China?” this person said. “They didn’t have anything to eat before they were liberated.”
Meanwhile the BBC is reporting that the last foreign journalist is being expelled from Lhasa.
Piecing together what is now happening in Tibet is difficult beyond the obvious fact that Lhasa is being heavily policed and the country in general garrisoned to damp down any re-combustion of last week’s violence.
The BBC reports house to house searches in Lhasa and that one of its correspondents in western China had seen long convoys of military vehicles heading across the mountains into Tibet, to add, presumably, to the large numbers of troops already there. Prime minister Web Jiaboa has made his first public comment on the subject, unilluminatingly accusing the Dalai Lama of masterminding the demonstrations, and defending the way they were dealt with.
With Tibet effectively closed to journalists, we are being reminded of the modern truth that if we don’t see something on television we don’t know its true. Worse, we are getting the black and white public stances of both sides, whereas the truth is inevitably grey. In any conflict there are usually three sides, the two antagonists and those on neither of their sides. Beijing Newspeak has a read-worthy post on that and the reporting by his former employer, Xinhua. EastSouthWestNorth shows how what little we do know can be read either way. Props, too, to Mutant Palm for trying to bridge the understanding gap with his Tibet Tweets posts and his evangelising of establishing direct contact with Chinese netizens.
With the trouble in Lhasa spreading to the parts of the former eastern provinces of Tibet that were incorporated into China after 1951, Beijing is facing its most serious dissent since Tiananmen Square in 1989.
It will be put down firmly, and as out of sight of the rest of the world as possible. Media coverage will be tightly controlled, with one message for domestic audiences (“us” Han under violent attack from “them” Tibetans) and another for the rest of the world (see, the Dalai Lama and his monks are far from non-political and peace loving).
TV footage and web video will be high value propaganda both inwards and outwards; so far the Great Firewall is holding fast. Chinese are seeing footage of monks burning cars and shops. No one anywhere is seeing the sorts of images of monks being cracked down in the way that happened in Burma last year.
The authorities will do all they can to prevent a defining image of defiance. There will be no equivalent this time of the lone man in the white shirt standing in the road bringing a line of tanks to a halt.
As noted on Mar. 9:
No doubt those responsible for the thwarted China Southern airplane attack on Friday will be found by the Chinese authorities to have similar links.
The party-controlled Global Times now says, “This was a well-prepared, meticulously planned, tightly co-ordinated terror attack” and that police are investigating the “terrorist organization backing” the 19-year-old Uighur woman seized after trying to start a fire in a toilet on the China Southern flight.
Mutant Palm has been trying to piece together the twists, turns, rumors and half truths of this confusing tale. Worth a read.
Following the incident, China has tightened its already strict airport security ahead of the Olympic Games. Passengers are now banned from taking any kind of liquid on domestic flights and searches of luggage and passengers are being increased.
Meanwhile, authorities are cracking down on what are said to be the largest protests in Tibet against Chinese rule since 1989. Again, unusually, officials have confirmed that the demonstrations have taken place. There must be purpose to this openness, even if it is far from clear what that purpose is.