Daily Mail: China’s Shameful Massacre of Unborn Girls

Daily Mail Peter HItchens with Chinese children in Kunming.

In my last post, I regrettably linked to the following article written by Peter Hitchens in the Daily Mail. I then called him a “wanker” in the footnotes. You may want to read the article itself first to form your own impression…

before proceeding to the highlighted and annotated version I include below to explain why he is a “wanker”:

Peter Hitchens' "Gendercide: China's shameful massacre of unborn girls means there will soon be 30m more men than women" in the Daily Mail, with notes added.

If you haven’t connected the dots yet, I highlighted with three main colors to emphasize three different things:

  1. Red: Negative language to color your thinking.
  2. Yellow: Alarmist language to color your thinking.
  3. Green: Self-referential language to color your thinking.

The overall tone of the article can be summed up with: We should be afraid of this inhuman evil.

  • Yes, I’m simplifying things.
  • Yes, I totally nitpicked (and semantically so) his article to hell.
  • Yes, he can be said to be exercising artistic license.
  • Yes, I do the same thing. All the time.
  • Yes, I can be a wanker too.

Anything else?

I get it that this is the Daily Mail we’re talking about here, and that it is Peter Hitchens. But so? This isn’t really about it or about him, this is about who they influence.

The thing is, this is actually a very real problem in China. Peter isn’t entirely wrong. He’s just mostly a self-righteous snooty dick about it. And that breeds more self-righteous snooty dick-ness amongst his people1.

Yes, a traditional (not “prehistoric” nor “ancient”) prejudice persists in China favoring sons over daughters. Yes, this leads to sex-selective abortions of female babies. Yes, child abductions are a problem in certain parts of China. Yes, some of it has to do with the desire for sons or procuring “child brides” for “spoiled” sons. But Peter, here, already lost the plot and conflated two appreciably different phenomenon in mainland China into one genuinely obnoxious narrative of why the Chinese are evil and the rest of us should not just be appalled but oh so afraid.

In fact, Peter did such a good job early on convincing us that China actively hates and “massacres” baby girls in the “tens of millions, using all the latest technology” that by the time you actually get to the human interest part of his piece, we don’t even realize that the Chinese fathers Li Fa Ming and Yuan Ying Shu were both “miserable and demoralized” over their abducted daughters.

Am I supposed to suddenly feel sorry for these fathers or continue hating the whole lot of them for being part of a “disturbing” society that perpetuates “brutal” sexism and “mass slaughter” against baby girls? Am I supposed to pity the ignorant savages or fear the ensuing rise of such unenlightened savages? Am I supposed to hate the Chinese government for its one child policy and suppressing dissent or applaud them for trying to combat that “ancient” traditional prejudice against girl babies? Which is it?

And that underscores — highlights — this entire article’s overriding adherence and ultimate dependence upon popular but tired Western narratives concerning China. This piece is less about reporting what’s going on in China as it is about stringing together as many common and cliched prejudices and fears Westerners have towards China:

  • China is becoming economically powerful. Check.
  • This may be China’s “century”. Check.
  • Chinese people and society are still backward. Check.
  • There’s a one child policy in China. It’s evil. Check.
  • Chinese people like sons, abort daughters. That’s evil. Check.
  • Little emperors. The spoiled brats suck. Check.
  • There is propaganda in China. Check.
  • It is sometimes charming. Check.
  • A lot of terrible shit happens in China. It’s evil shit too. Check.
  • Chinese leaders are worried about the truth getting out. Check.
  • They practice censorship in China. That one’s really evil. Check.

Should I go on?

“Look how horrible they are! Oh, but what can we do? They’re going to be the next superpower.”

Yes, what can we do about it?


  1. If only I had such power… []


98 Comments

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  1. Jones

    Sounds like someone is in a really thick bout of the Chinafunk.

  2. Jay (a different one)

    Can we put this guy up for abortion (to even out the gender imbalance just a little bit)?

  3. yangrouchuan

    I would swap “traditional” with “primitive”. How can anyone hate their baby that just because they are female.

    I think Kai Pan knows deep down this is an abysmal sin on par with the worst of Hitler, Stalin and Mao. The gendercide has far outpaced Pol Pot and the North Korea’s entire, savage history.

    Look up a woman called Ping Fu, she was Inc Magazine’s “entrepreneur of the year” in 2005 or 2006.
    She was born in China and as a young reporter in 1980-81 sent by the Politburo to investigate reports of live born baby girls being dumped down wells, necks broken and throats slit.

    According to the interview, what she saw and wrote about haunts her to this day and when she submitted her report, she was imprisoned and then sent packing, banished from China and sent to the US as a refugee. Her report demonstrated that the one child policy was an abysmal failure from the start.
    Surely after 30 years of wise CCP leadership and the flawless one child policy, there is a far greater shortage of girls than 30 million as of today.

    Kai Pan is to busy being one of those “middle ground” pussies to take a stand for anything. Kai Pan is a coward and a panderer to crimes against humanity. Kai Pan needs his ass kicked, preferably by Asian women, especially those whose families came over from China at some point and thus may have saved their lives.

    • Guys, yangrouchuan isn’t actually this stupid. He just enjoys pretending to be. Given how obvious he is, he doesn’t quite qualify for troll status.

      Yet.

    • Leo

      “…as a young reporter in 1980-81 sent by the Politburo to investigate reports…”

      “…when she submitted her report, she was imprisoned and then sent packing, banished from China and sent to the US as a refugee…”

      This is THE highlight!

    • friendo

      and I guess America’s .8-1.2 million abortions a year, on top of their 1+ million Iraqis killed and insane murder rate, makes them the most murderous nation on the planet.

    • Lang Lang

      Kebab guy…….wassup?

  4. yangrouchuan

    Where is someone like Elaine Chow from Shanghaiist to really serve it to Kai Pan?

  5. Some Guy

    Wow, I was actually laughing out loud at the ridiculousness of the article and your expert highlighting job. Serious issue (at least in Hainan) but the article is so horrible it becomes a joke.

    As for the Western MSM and how much it makes people less informed, this shouldn’t really be news. That’s why everyone here is getting their commentary online from blogs such as yours.

  6. Relax Kai, Daily Mail readers don’t vote.

  7. You guys are idiots. Kai isn’t saying this isn’t a real problem — obviously it is — just that it’s a horrible and misleading article. Which it is.

    • AndyR

      Then what’s the point of even writing this post? I mean is it China/Div’s job to go around pointing out all the specific “biases” of every article written on China? This obsession with pointing out bias really only serves obfuscate real issues like gender bias that should be publicized and discussed. To me, this approach stifles debate more so than encourages it. Take a stand on the issues, if the article is misleading then do some real research and prove his claims wrong. Otherwise your response amounts to that of a middle schooler who just learned the term “bias” and tries to use it to win every argument. Kai turns every debate about a China issue into a debate about media bias which is counter-productive if not completely puerile…ok I’m done “trolling” (i.e. China/div’s term for disagreeing with/criticizing a post) now…

      • AndyR,

        Have you ever wondered why some people see “the point” but others don’t?

        No, it isn’t china/divide’s “job to go around pointing out all the specific “biases” of every article written on China”, it’s just what some of us want to write about at certain times. We read something that we feel compelled to respond to. Just. Like. What. You’re. Doing. Right. Now.

        What makes you think media bias isn’t a “real issue” like “gender bias”? Oh, right, your personal opinion.

        Trying to dictate what is a “real issue” to others does more than stifling debate. It stifles speech.

        What makes you think I’m not taking a stand on the issues? You don’t have to care for the point of my post but please don’t try to change it.

    • Dave
  8. pug_ster

    Sensationalism at its finest.

  9. AndyR

    I have an idea! Let’s write ANOTHER snarky reply to a Western news take on a China topic. If we attempt to discredit the people publicizing issues like this by implying that they are “China bashers”, then we will be sure save a few more females from abortion or neglect.

    It is ALWAYS a good idea to ignore the core issues and debate whether the author writing about those issues is “biased” or not. This is what being a “middle-grounder” is all about! Derailing debate (and making yourself look “smart”) through accusations of bias…

    Kai, I’m sorry but you are a one trick pony man…I mean why spend all this effort to point out the “bias” of the author’s artistic license? If you disagree with him, then give us a real rebuttal of his claims. Or if you agree, but disagree with the tone, please show us how YOU would re-write this article to discuss the issue WITHOUT being so “China bash-y”…I would seriously like to see an example of this “balanced” tone you accuse so many Western reporters of lacking…how does China’s image come out of a discussion of the atrocities of gender bias unscathed? And does pulling punches to “balance” the tone really accomplish any better results? (besides maybe saving us from another famous Kai “Western media bias” rant…)

    • AndyR,

      I have an idea! Let’s write ANOTHER snarky reply to a Western news take on a China topic. If we attempt to discredit the people publicizing issues like this by implying that they are “China bashers”, then we will be sure save a few more females from abortion or neglect.

      Fenqing are also good at this. It’s called “conflating”. Taking issue with bias does not mean I’m against saving females from abortion or neglect. I can be against both at the same time. You should try holding two thoughts in your head at the same time.

      It is ALWAYS a good idea to ignore the core issues and debate whether the author writing about those issues is “biased” or not. This is what being a “middle-grounder” is all about! Derailing debate (and making yourself look “smart”) through accusations of bias…

      Wrong, I am not ignoring the core issues, I am just not writing about the issue you think should be the only one written about. The core issue here, in this instance, is about bias. This does not preclude other issues from being core issues in other instances, in other pieces of writing. A writer, like Peter can be both biased and concerned with female infantcide. Pointing out that he is biased does not necessarily mean he isn’t concerned with female infantcide. It just means he’s biased.

      How are my accusations of bias any different from your accusations of me making myself look smart?

      Kai, I’m sorry but you are a one trick pony man…

      What made you ever think I have a problem with being a one-trick pony man?

      I mean why spend all this effort to point out the “bias” of the author’s artistic license?

      Since you don’t accept the actual reasons why, I’ll just have to settle for: To annoy you?

      If you disagree with him, then give us a real rebuttal of his claims.

      Wait a second. What do you think I disagree with him on? Maybe you should try figuring that out first.

      Or if you agree, but disagree with the tone, please show us how YOU would re-write this article to discuss the issue WITHOUT being so “China bash-y”

      You’re not following your own advice. You’ve responded to your own criticism here.

      I would seriously like to see an example of this “balanced” tone you accuse so many Western reporters of lacking

      Let’s start with going easy with everything that was highlighted in red?

      how does China’s image come out of a discussion of the atrocities of gender bias unscathed?

      What makes you think I’m concerned with China’s image on gender bias here?

      And does pulling punches to “balance” the tone really accomplish any better results?

      That’s the age-old debate of the “divide”, isn’t it? Do you think everyone reacts the same way to the same stimulus? Do you think the same trick always yields the same reactions?

      (besides maybe saving us from another famous Kai “Western media bias” rant…)

      I still remember how upset you were on ChinaGeeks. We understand that you’re sensitive to this type of issue, just like fenqing are to other types. That’s normal. You’re normal. It just sucks that you can’t see how I’m normal too.

    • Rachel

      AndyR
      I’m not Kai but here is how I would re-write it (or how I wish I would if I’ve had the talent or the resources):

      http://www.economist.com/world/international/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15636231

      Same sad topic: gendercide, but what a differnce: No sensationalism, no over hyping, no prejudice, no apocalyptic warnings. just solid, fact based journalism.

      • I’m with Rachel on the Economist article.

        That aside…I find folks get so bent out of shape regarding media bias, especially within the context of China. Many like to wear their identification of ‘bias’ as some kind of badge that gives them street cred in the world of internet pundits.

        To be dreadfully frank…media bias exists in every country, on every topic and for a very, very long time. It’s a phenomenon…it’s just there. Deal with it?

        • Bryan, not sure I agree. How many people tell Western pundits to just “deal with it” when it comes to Chinese media bias? Bias does exist everywhere, and the identification of such will likely continue so long as people react to and resist it, right?

          • To what end? It’s somewhat of a futile effort, I believe. Where is the value-added in identifying what most of us already know?

            By “deal with it” I was more referring to bias as being an inheritress trait of journalism, opinion and work/life in general. We struggle a lot with ideas of bias in academic research. One can minimize it using all kinds of methodologies, but it’s hard, if not impossible to eliminate completely. It’s just “there” and one cannot proceed unless they recognize that (preferably in a short paragraph).

          • Bryan, lots of things are futile efforts yet we make them anyway, right? The world will forever be unfair, but many of us fight it still.

            If I believed this is something that “most of us already know”, I probably wouldn’t be identifying it, would I? That’s probably a key disagreement between us.

            I don’t think I’ve said anything that suggests that I don’t understand bias is an inherent trait of journalism, opinion, and work/life in general. In fact, I think I’ve said plenty to acknowledge that explicitly. There are indeed all kinds of methodologies to minimize bias. This is one of them. I harbor no illusions about eliminating it completely. That’s not my goal. I’m not that stupid.

      • Sam

        I’m glad this article points out “In China, it is the relaxation of the (one child) policy, rather than the policy pure and simple, which explains the unnatural upsurge in the number of boys”. This sentence, however, is buried deep in the middle of a long article.

        The same Economist in the same breath also produced a shorter therefore more powerful piece that concludes “Most obviously China should scrap the one-child policy”. Why isn’t it so obvious to me?

  10. yangrouchuan

    Kai’s point that anyone who writes anything bad about China is obviously a 1. western media sensationalist 2. anti-China 3. anti-chinese people racist.

    Let’s forget about the actual nightmare that is going on against baby girls and focus on going after any journalist who says anything bad about ALMIGHTY CHINA.

    And as for bashing this guy as a journalist, obviously the China writers on this and other blogs are doing soooo much better in their writing careers.

    • maotai

      The way the Daily Mail article is written rouses fear and hatred for China and reading the obvious bias it makes the Chinese mad as hell as well.

      Then we all go to war and no more Chinese gender imbalance! Oh … no more Western men … that will also solve the financial crisis, current implosion of the Western economy, world hunger and ultimately bring about world peace!

      LOL

    • B-real

      Pete Hitchens is my fucking hero. I read the article last week. He went a bit over the top when he started going paranormal and shit but he hit it right on the nail. For people who don’t know or don’t care to know this is a big attention grabber that obviously didn’t get ignored. His way of delivery was direct and intentional on every corner of the way.

      That’s just the thing Kai. If they wanna be the next supper power they gotta be nice to their own people and the rest of world. Have you ever noticed a certain bully country always pisses and moans about unfair treatment with a hidden agenda (Where are the MWDs). Not many people mind a super power on the rise long as they are nice guys. It would suck if they had some serious influence on the rest of the world. Pete Hitchens can really start some fires and push his agenda to a majority of people in powerful spots. Next thing you know there is a war starting to save China’s humanity meanwhile its really a fight over something else like the massive amount of Gold (hypothetically speaking). Maybe simple people like us can’t do anything, but you have seen some fucked up shit in the past 20 years to make you think, “wow that was not called for.”(hypothetically speaking again)It just takes the right backing and series of events that lead up to an international intervention, and “presto” no more “gendercide”.

      I don’t see Pete trying to create a movement like this from his article,but he does have a job to do.

      • Teacher in C

        “If they wanna be the next supper power” I’d rather they try to become the next brunch power. Sandwiches and cocktails weenies for the whole world!

        Sorry, that was childish, but I really couldn’t resist it.

        • B-real

          I realized I spelled it wrong after I hit post comment. No edit feature on here I should really start proof reading my rants.

  11. Issues

    Peter hitchens is only surpassed by his older and lamer brother in terms of hyperbole and British attitude. F***ing English wankers… someone should ban all English from traveling abroad, just the worst culture in the world, hands down. China for all its problems has much much nicer people. The English are just plain downright nasty. And English newspaper of course cater this audience, so why even care?

    • Sojourner

      “The English are just plain downright nasty.”

      Ooooh, try not to get your knickers in a twist, dearie.

      At leasy we Brits aren’t so prissily, insipidly hypocritical to writing “F***ing” when we mean “Fucking”.

      Who coined the expression the “ugly American”? (I’m assuming you’re American; you certainly write like one.)

  12. Leo

    Canadian press is known among Chinese Canadians to be unapologically China-bashing.

    • Some Guy

      I can’t disagree more. Those are the kind of people who conflate pointing out problems in China with China-bashing.

      • friendo

        There’s a difference in trying to deflect your own failures by pointing out (and exaggerating) other people’s problems with a nasty tone.

        Reporter: Today, in America’s ongoing financial cri-
        Reporter2: WAIT! LOOK AT WHAT CHINA IS DOING! GENDERCIDE! POLLUTION! CURRENCY MANIPULATION! ARMS BUILD UP! THEY KILLED COPENHAGEN! GENOCIDE IN DARFUR IS ALL THEIR FAULT! THEY’RE EATING TIBETAN CHILDREN! ALL CHINESE PEOPLE ARE RACIST, LOOK AT THAT ONE BLOG POST ABOUT LOU JING! CHINESE ARE ROUNDING UP BLACKS IN BEIJING! LIP SYNCHING! CHINA IS CRACKING DOWN ON PURE AND INNOCENT TIBETANS! CHINA IS CRACKING DOWN ON NOBLE ARYAN UIGHURS!

        Shut the fuck up already

  13. I’m told that there was a time when the Daily Mail employed real reporters who wrote about real news in a professional way; I cannot remember such a time.

  14. Jesus what a moron that Peter guy. A real wanker indeed, I don’t know how you have the patience to go through his whole article.

    What does he think, that in the West we don’t massacre babies with the latest technologies as well? At least in China they did it for a good reason, to avoid the immense population disaster that was sure to come if things continued like in the 70s.

    I suppose Peter is much more happy with countries like Congo where population is not controlled and the excess of people is eliminated with AIDS and machete wars. But then, those countries don’t matter because they are not strong enough to contest our hegemony and take away our jobs…

    Why do I even bother to write this.

    • Julen, to be fair, Peter’s not talking about simply abortion, but sex-selective abortion, massacring baby girls with the latest technologies. That is something that is far less pervasive in the West. Moreover, the abortion he’s referring to China is less to do with population control than it is about preferring sons to daughters. I have no qualms with his disagreement over such a prejudice but I do have qualms with his reporting.

      • Sure, I got that.

        But excuse me Kai, perhaps you can explain me how it is is less disgusting to kill your foetus without knowing its sex, just because it is “oh not so convenient for you to have a baby at this time” – vs to kill the foetus because you prefer to have a son rather than a daughter. Both are using technology to suit the particular preferences of a selfish mother (one a preference of time, another of gender).

        Indeed there is a problem with some Chinese people preferring sons over daughters and paying for abortions but we must keep in mind:

        1- people that do that are a minority of about 3% of the couples in China. 2- It is not in itself more immoral than Western abortion practices, even if the long-term consequences may (only may) be worse.

        • Whoa, Julen, I’m not saying it is less disgusting to kill your fetus without knowing its sex. Why should I have to explain something I’m not advancing? I haven’t said anything to be pro- or anti-abortion at all here. Totally agree that abortion involves using technology. I’m not commenting about Chinese sex-selective abortions being more or less “immoral” than Western abortion practices. I just thought you were criticizing Peter for something I’m not sure he represents in his article and was clarifying, again, “to be fair” (to the wanker).

          • OK, the main focus of the article is not the one child policy, but it does touch it. And I think it is important to make these points again, for all the preachers of anti-one-child policy.

            Now, regarding the traditional preference of Chinese people for sons rather than daughters: Yes, it is potentially a source of social problems and the government does its best to discourage it.

            But let’s keep in mind the percentage of couples who push this to the extreme of selective abortion is tiny. And what does Mr. Hitchens want, all societies have vices and you cannot judge the whole for what a 3% of them are doing.

            Otherwise we could all write articles about how English are fascist hooligans, or Arabs are terrorists, or Americans are nutty serial shooters. But then, I guess that is precisely what people like Peter Hitchens do for a living.

          • Cool, just want to clear up any misunderstanding.

        • Sorry Julen but I’ll have to disagree with you on that.
          sex selective abortions in China aren’t about the individual choice of one woman or the other, but about social prejudice against women that creates enormous pressure on couples to have a son. In that sense it is more immoral because its not about the mother’s choice and is both derives from and promotes discrimination of women in cosiety.
          I don’t know where you took the 3% figures from. All sex selcetive abortions are ilegal in China, so naturally it’s hard to come by any real statistics – in regions such as Hainan it’s probably a lot higher than 3%., and then there are the girl who aren’t aborted but abondened after birth.
          Just because that Hitchens person is a wanker doesn’t mean the problem is not real. Also, I don’t see how it’s helpful to debate “who is more evil”. Gendercide in China (and elsewhere, like India) is something that should be pointed out and should get a lot more attention in both the local and intenational media. Not in the way Hitchens is doing it, obviously but it should. “Western women have abortions too” is not a valid argument against pointing out the problem. Is the massacre in darfur justified because there are murders being commited in the west?

          • Sex selective abortions in China aren’t about the individual choice of one woman or the other, but about social prejudice against women that creates enormous pressure on couples to have a son.

            I agree it is not just the “choice of a woman”, as I said. But it is still the selfish choice of a family. Social prejudice doesn’t *force* anyone to abort in China, on the contrary, it could be argued that there is a growing incentive to have girls. I know I am in delicate territory here, but I am pretty sure many abortions are not a wife-beating husband forcing her, but just a mother who voluntarily prefers to have a son.

            In that sense it is more immoral because its not about the mother’s choice and it both derives from and promotes discrimination of women in society.

            How much the mother takes part of the decision? Probably more in the West than here, but it is not black and white. Many abortions in the West are due to social pressure as well, many others are just due to irresponsibility. In the end, following Peter’s notion of morality, the “ghosts of the dead children” float in the Western classes as well as in the Chinese ones.

            I don’t know where you took the 3% figures from. All sex selcetive abortions are ilegal in China, so naturally it’s hard to come by any real statistics – in regions such as Hainan it’s probably a lot higher than 3%., and then there are the girl who aren’t aborted but abandened after birth.

            Yes, but I am an engineer and I do this for a living :) The Mail says there will be 30M excess guys in 2020. Since selective abortion has close to a 100% success rate, 30M guys exceeding average should correspond to 30M manipulated births. Now how many births happened between 1978 and 2020: around half of the Chinese population, 700M. So OK, that gives a 4% of manipulated births. But bear in mind I took the initial basis of 30M from the wingnuts of the Daily Mail, so this is a worst case scenario estimate, including the abandones ones.

            Just because that Hitchens person is a wanker doesn’t mean the problem is not real. […]“Western women have abortions too” is not a valid argument against pointing out the problem.

            I completely agree with this. The problem is when you approach these problems like Peter does, with that old Western moralizing tone. This is not helping at all, and it begs to be reminded of Western crimes as well to give readers some perspective. Obviously Peter is not writing this for the oppressed Chinese women, but for his righteous, jingoistic crowd of admirers.

          • re: julen’s estimate

            1) need to subtract eh surplus by nature surplus, i.e 52%-48%=4% of natural male surplus biase

            2) real abortion selection starts around 1990, not 1978.

            other notes
            1) prenatal untrasound is forbidden in china, but it is not difficult to get illegal scan. the health industry in china is as corrupted (and as $-oriented) as the government
            2) abandoned girls (assuming they survive, and remain in china) do not reduce the female percentage. but girls subsequently adopted by foreiegn families do.

      • friendo

        Nah the West just kills the baby girls, female toddlers, young women, and old women of other countries.

        At least 5 million Korean/Vietnamese women mercilessly slaughtered and 400+ thousand Iraqi women killed so far.

  15. DJ

    I think Julen does bring up an interesting angle here. This “wanker” takes for granted that abortion is murder and should be condemned by all civilized people.

    I have always felt that such a stance is fundamentally a religious issue. The perception on abortion in China is quite a bit not the same as in the U.S. and Europe.

  16. Noth

    Your writing is usually very good and clear on it’s own, Kai. Pedantry and righteousness.. there is enough of that in the China blogosphere, and if there isn’t, at least make a much better go of it. It’s a turn off to have someone assume he is so much sharper than his readers that he needs to result to what appears to be a rainbow-hued version of all caps.

    That almost seems like a parody of the self-righteous blogger, nevermnd that I agree with your thrust completely.

    When you’ll created this blog, I hoped to see some really original and sharp writing, not an extension of the “easy target” editorializing theme from Chinageeks.

    • “Noth”,

      Thanks for the compliment. You’re like one of two people who think my writing is good and clear on its own. As for “pedantry and righteousness”, both criticisms I’ve heard before. I didn’t highlight because I assume I’m “so much sharper” than my readers, I highlighted because it was more efficient and easier than copying, pasting, and blockquoting the parts of the original article I want to comment on. It’s easier to use colors to highlight and link parts of the original under the criticisms I have. If you’re familiar with the way I respond to things, as I suspect you are, you know I’m big on quoting and referencing the original text to make my points. That’s my style.

      I’m glad you agree with the thrust of my post.

      We have original and sharp writing too. Maybe this just isn’t one of them for you. Either way, this may have been an easy target, but it’s also a target that is influential. For a blog about the divide between China and the West, I think this is squarely within our subject-matter.

  17. Teacher in C

    It’s sad to think about what a good article this could have been. It seems like he did quite a lot of research on the ground, talking to lots of different people, getting some good pics (minus him looking so “concernedly” into the camera). If he would have written without using so much obnoxious language, this could have been a good, thoughtful piece that could have educated people on the problem without being such a douchebag about it. I especially like the last little punch at the end where he mentions “the pinched squalor of the places” – wait a sec, I thought this was about gender imbalance?

  18. Hi china/divide authors,

    I’m translating the original article in Daily Mail to Chinese and I’m trying to introduce this blog to Chinese readers (with two articles translated from here already). Please have a look. Thank you!

    http://wangtalk.com

    Wang Er

  19. There’s a fundamental difference that is overlooked in some of the comments about media bias: Chinese media bias is a wholesale and imposed reflection of the Government’s propagandised view of themselves and the world. However, ‘western’ media bias exists in the retailing of the individual outlet that forms a part of the whole, which, on balance, is nothing like the skewed hotbed of Sino-negativity that it is too often presented as being.

    A small case in point. You can write an op-ed condemning American foreign/economic policy for the NYT (for example) and get it published, but you can’t write a condemnation of Chinese foreign/economic policy for the CD and come close to publication or discussion within the Chinese media.

    On this level, there’s simply no comparison.

    Of course, articles like the one taken to task here are always going to exist where media has some freedom; that comes with the territory. But it doesn’t make them representative, which cannot be said of a state controlled media.

    • Sam

      I see. So there’s a fundamental difference between the wholesale garbage and the retail garbage.

      • Wholesale garbage is all there is; retail garbage is optional.

        • friendo

          The West’s sickening, idiotic media might be an “option”, but it’s an option forced not only on the citizens of the West, but of the whole world.

          China doesn’t even attempt to brainwash the entire planet.

          The West’s foul, ugly, filthy lies about China outnumber truthful and honest reporting 100 to 1. When a majority of your nation deeply despises all of the Chinese peoples and their cultures, and wishes for them to suffer and fail, well, propaganda sells. And profit is the only thing that matters to these corporations.

          China’s media is generally taken with a grain of salt by the majority of PRC citizens. In practice, it’s not much of a threat.

          Lastly, the Western media systematically fucks the West itself and the world by trying to sell anti-intellectualism and constantly trying to market obscenity and instant-gratification media for imbeciles.

          The CCP is still not up to par in that regard, either.

        • Sam

          So which part of the retailer business makes you think the retail garbage is optional? Yes you may have the choice to shop in either Wal-Mart or Target or Tesco or Sainsbury or your street corner grocery stores and you may have quite a lot more choices there than that in the wholesale boxes like Costco or Sam’s club. But you have a better chance to buy less garbage? Do you have any hard evidence for that, such as, 57% people have negative views on the national news media?

    • stuart, definitely agree that some people don’t appreciate the difference between the bias enforced by the Chinese government in Chinese media versus the genuine bias of individuals in the Western media.

      No one is suggesting that mere existence makes something representative. However, some people ARE saying that they believe SUCH articles are arguably representative of western media. More importantly, just as state-sponsored and enforced bias influences people, western media bias influences people as well EVEN in the presence of alternative views or biases.

      The fundamental point in contention here when people point out Western bias is usually to disabuse some Westerners of the notion that the greater availability of a plurality of views in the West automatically makes them less biased or necessarily less susceptible to being influenced by bias. The common example is the Westerner dismissing the Chinese as being necessarily brainwashed while they themselves are inherently free of such an affliction. That’s just not true. It is one thing to argue about the merits of access to a plurality of views, and another thing entirely to argue about whether one person is biased or not. The former does not exclude the latter, but some people often mistakenly think it does and present it as so.

      This, above, is a huge obstacle between China and the West, between many Chinese and Westerners. We aren’t going to build any mutual understanding if one side is always assumed to be brainwashed and the other hypocritically thinking they can be nothing but free-thinkers. Why do you think I like The Last Psychiatrist? Because he’s always making his readers question what they think is their own thoughts and beliefs.

      • “The former does not exclude the latter…”

        Indeed not. It does, however, make it – IMVHO – less likely.

        I haven’t really familiarised myself with The Last Psychiatrist beyond your links. But I’m all for challenging assumptions and pushing boundaries, so I’ll go lie on the couch for a while, see how it feels.

        • Heh @ the couch. Yes, I agree less likely, but remember, the issue at the root of the divide isn’t about likelihood, but about one side’s presumption and thus dismissal.

  20. What is it with China bloggers? Why do you get so arsy about journalists who write about China? I know you like to think it’s “your patch” because you can read Chinese, but have you considered that you lack all expertise in (a) being a decent journalist and (b) knowledge about what writing works for that particular British readership?
    hitchens has skills to bring to the table, and the article is effective – and not nearly as biased as it looks to you through your “I know more about China than you” spectacles. What you read as inconsistency, the journalistic trade knows as balance.
    Someone linked to an Economist article and claimed it did the same job without sensationalism: did you not notice the shocking account of infanticide in the first two paragraphs? I found that pretty damn sensational.
    I’m with AndyR. 1) get over yourself. 2) engage in the debate.
    As someone said above, you are a good writer. Your talents are wasted on this gibber.

    • Hitchens might write like the angels for all I know, we don’t give a damn about his writing skills here. The point is the content of his post is severely biased against China. That is the reason why many of us often critical with China turn defensive in this post.

      I agree there are many knowledgable people out of the China blogs that we should pay attention, but no, most of them are not journalists. And no, Peter H is certainly not one of them.

      Now, I do agree Kai’s talents are wasted on this gibber. No bad feelings Kai, but really I think you can choose more nuanced and less obviously idiotic articles to comment on, otherwise this becomes mere collection of rants, and we end up speaking more about an English nobody called Peter H than about China.

    • Jones

      I agree with them that this article is a bit over-the-top. The guy obviously has it in for the place.

      However, yeah, it’s hard to find an article that they (foreign internet blog-about-China-gers) like or approve of. Have you ever noticed some foreigners who are kind of…possessive of China? Like they get upset if, say, someone claims to have been there longer, or experienced more of the REAL people and culture? Been to more small villages and learned more words for random, rare gimmicky traditional dishes? I knew several of them. I think maybe it’s somehow related. Not with THIS article…but with a lot of others.

    • lolz

      “What you read as inconsistency, the journalistic trade knows as balance.”

      LOL. This is the same ol’ FOXNEWS argument.

      We must be BIASED so that we can be fair. Balanced against what, the Chines state media which no one outside of China ever reads?

      If people who know more people about China point out the silly mistakes which people don’t know about China makes, shouldn’t that be a good thing?

  21. jeoconne

    I do statistics for a living and I am always surprised at how easily people are manipulated by statistics. But this is a case where a proper understanding of statistics clears things up and exposes the manipulation.

    Genetically, the probability of a giving birth to a male and the probability of giving birth to a female are both equal to 0.50. But due to environmental (both in the womb and out of the womb) factors the reality is a bit different. In the USA records show that male babies are born at a slightly higher rate than are females. The probability of a male birth in the USA is 0.52 and the probability of a female birth is 0.48. You may not think that this is a big deal, but when you talk about many births it becomes a big deal.

    So there should be around 2% more male births than female births. This is in the USA, and the factors involves many things like chemicals/germs/viruses in the environment, how the mother treats her body, etc. They are not necessarily abortion or she-murdered-her-baby related (which is always assumed to be the case when the West judges China).

    Anyway, assuming this difference holds in China, along with the data given in this article, there should be approximately (1,336,410,000)(.02)=26,728,200 more male births than female births in China, or around 30 million. Amazing how statistics works huh? Is it a coincidence that these numbers are so close together?

    It has also been shown that in the past missionaries from the West in China have lied about the rates of infanticide in order to better spread the Jesus-myth around and make the non-Christian Chinese look bad.

    I am not saying that cases of infanticide do not exist, but there is a lot of evidence to support the claim that the rates of infanticide in China are exaggerated.

    And to prove the anti-China, pro-West propaganda is involved, try to find an article that blames the male to female birth discrepancy in the USA on infanticide in the USA.

    • Check the comment I did above about stats. I am not a statistician, but I am an engineer, and my job is to estimate what I don’t understand :)

      Seriously though, there is a flaw in your calculation. You cannot use 2% of the population, you should use 2% of the number of births that happened since the problem started circa 1978. This number is much smaller than the Chinese population, I estimated it above to 700M, but even that is probably too high.

      Your 2% should probably amount to: 500M*0.02 = 10M

      This leaves an excess of 20 million males that would correspond well with my own estimation of 3% cases. Of course, it is silly to start splitting hairs about this, because the basis data is not sound, and we don’t know the accuracy of the “30 million” estimation in the first place.

      But a fair conclusion is that the phenomenon of gender abortions is very minoritary, in the order of few points percent.

      • Clarification: the reason why I say that you can’t take the 2% stat on the whole population is that that data is based only on births.

        For various reasons, that advantage of males is equalized or even reversed when you take into account the whole of the population. See the maps that Kai posted in the previous post, where you see there are in fact more total women than men in every country including the US, except China.

    • jeoconne,

      no, your denominator shoul dnot be 1.3bn, it should be something