Representing Chinese Netizens Through China’s Twitter Users

A Chinese internet user at an internet bar.

Radio Free Asia logo.

It should go without saying that Radio Free Asia (RFA) has as much a political agenda as Xinhua and CCTV are mouthpieces for the Chinese government. As such, this isn’t really a surprise but I still find it distasteful. Those of you who disagree with me taking issue with Western media or Westerners may want to stop reading now.

RFA just published an article (h/t Rick Martin) about North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Il visiting China, titled “Kim’s Visit Sparks Anger” (Chinese version here):

HONG KONG—Chinese netizens have reacted angrily to a visit to China by North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, with large numbers taking part in a campaign on Twitter titled “Kim Jong Il, get out of China!”

If red flags haven’t popped up for you already…

Netizens lashed out at Kim for occupying the presidential suite at the Furama Hotel in the northeastern port city of Dalian, which costs 16,000 yuan (U.S. $2,300) per night, more than the annual per capita economic output of North Korea.

Chinese commenters on the microblogging service Twitter also criticized the wastefulness of the huge limousine motorcade that followed Kim, saying the money spent on the motorcade was taken from the “flesh and blood” of the North Korean people.

Preemptive disclaimer: I’m not a fan of Kim Jong Il or the North Korean government/regime. I don’t like either and I think North Koreans in general are needlessly suffering under them.

Chinese river crab catches Twitter bird - by Chinese Twitter user Junde.

Now, if you haven’t picked up on it yet, the problem here is the RFA premising this story on comments collected via Twitter, a service that is blocked and has no wide-spread adoption or use in China amongst the vast, vast, vast majority of Chinese netizens.1

I wouldn’t have a problem with this RFA piece had it clearly and honestly written that it was “some Chinese commenters on the microblogging service Twitter that is blocked and inaccessible for the vast majority of Chinese netizens in mainland China. ” If they replaced “some” with “several“, even better.

Xiamen-based blogger Peter Guo wrote in English under the hashtag #KimGetOut, “Kim Jong Il, get out! get out! get out!”—a tweet passed around Chinese cyberspace for the rest of the day.

That may have been a tweet that was passed around Chinese cyberspace but that was a miniscule portion of Chinese cyberspace that is likely not actually geographically within Chinese cyberspace. It is  only “Chinese” insofar as some Chinese Twitter users populate it but they do so via circumvention tools. Chinese “cyberspace” would be the place where Twitter can’t be used and thus a tweet is unlikely to be “passed around”. Or maybe the RFA is suggesting that his tweet was copied and pasted back into normal Chinese cyberspace, onto Chinese blogs, forums, and social networks…but I doubt it.

“Campaigns like this let people know that Chinese netizens really are disgusted with Kim Jong Il … [North Korean] propaganda is shameless, because it turns black into white.”

Let me be the first to say that there is nothing technically wrong with most of the words used in the article. These Twitter users are still Chinese netizens. Them hopping the Great Firewall to go on Twitter to express their opposition and anger at Kim Jong Il does indeed let people know that some Chinese netizens “really are disgusted” with the North Korean leader’s visit, general existence, and use of shameless propaganda that “turns black into white”. All strictly semantically true. In fact, it’s a good thing if Westerners know that there is dissent and a plurality of opinion amongst Chinese people. It’s definitely better than them thinking Chinese netizens are all a bunch of brainwashed drones.

Stormfront - White Pride World Wide

What I find distasteful, of course, is the willingness to let people who don’t know any better make the mistake of thinking these Chinese Twitter users are somehow representative of “Chinese netizens” as a whole. Imagine the offense and outrage that would result from an article characterizing the comments of netizens on Stormfront to be the sentiments of Western or American netizens.2 These RFA writers know better — or they should — if this was about accurately representing “Chinese netizen” sentiments on this issue.

But again, this is Radio Free Asia after all. Code of Ethics and all.

  1. Small tangent here, just want to recommend this GVO piece featuring statistics on Chinese Twitter Users. It isn’t scientific but its fun nonetheless. []
  2. If it has to be said: No, I’m not saying Chinese Twitter netizens are like American Stormfront netizens. I’m saying they’re both far from representative of “Chinese netizens” and “American netizens” as a whole respectively. []


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  1. Jones

    What is the “white pride” graphic about?

    • Jones

      I totally read right over that Stormfront comment.

      • Bai Ren

        Preach it brotha, I have no clue about these two things aswell and would like some context.

        • friendo

          Considering you’re both white I wouldn’t be surprised if you actually were brothers, given the numbers of Fritzl-esque crimes among those of European descent.

          Hell, he might even be your grandpa.

          • Jones

            lol, Friendo holds such a grudge. Don’t worry, Bai Ren, he’s still pissed off, evidenced in another thread, because all the girls he likes are getting pounded by white men.

            Friendo, first floss with my ball hairs, and then take your crybaby remarks over to China Daily.

          • Bai Ren

            Take heart friendo.
            There is a posting on Danwei about all the white chicks who dig asain guys… at least anime fans. And arent there some famous chinese guys married to french chicks and the like?

          • Jones

            The guys have to be Japanese to please the weeaboo girls. Foiled again! Those dastardly Japs!

  2. AndyR

    I agree with the argument, but feel like you are splitting hairs here and underestimating the intelligence of the audience. I don’t see the necessity for adding the “some” or “several” in the above. I think anyone of reasonable intelligence can grasp that the description of netizen reactions above is not representative of “all” netizens, let alone all twitter users.

    Rather than adding a “some” or awkwardly highlighting the fact that the reactions do not represent all Chinese netizens, they could have found some dissenting opinions online and published those. That would have made for a more interesting story, but you are right that Radio Free Asia is not interested in doing so. But as I’ve complained before, is the question of media bias that important? Or if important, are we criticizing it in an effective way? To me, this debate has been going on more loudly in China since the 2008 Olympics and even longer internally in the US. We all realize the media is biased, we can all pick out individual articles and pick apart the bias in them, has all this complaining forced any media organizations to improve? No, and one of the big reasons is people like bias, they like news that agrees with them, so they choose the biased news that suits their worldview. In my opinion, we would do better publicizing and discussing those articles that do journalism the right way, rather than endlessly giving the worst examples even more attention. After all, doesn’t this blog post only serve up more hits by linking to the Radio Free Asia site, thus giving them even more reason to continue in the same lazy vein?

    Just a thought, I get on Kai about this a lot, not necessarily because I disagree with his points, but more this particular strategy of arguing against media bias in general.

    • Jones

      I think it’s fairly obvious to anyone who reads the news anyway. Look at the comment sections for any news story about China on CNN and whatnot. All the Chinese commentators welcome everyone to China. Why wouldn’t Kim Jong Il be included in that?

      • AndyR

        Exactly. But I’m not saying the conversation about media bias is useless, what my problem is is that we only seem to be having half of a conversation here. Everybody seems very interested in debating and defining “bad/irresponsible/subective journalism”, but no one will take a stab at debating or defining what a “good/responsible/objective media” is (and I don’t think responsible journalism is achieved by simply adding a “some” or “several” next to your subjects). If you really want all these “ignorant masses” (as some seem to envision the news reading public as) to have a better understanding of China (or any other story) highlight those articles that get the reporting right and explain why this is good journalism. Simply attacking “media bias” is a fruitless endeavor: first because perceived bias itself is subjective (i.e. pointing out the bias in an article doesn’t make the critic any more “objective” than the author of the original), second because it only serves to give more attention to those media outlets that make such errors, and third because you aren’t providing a model (let alone a decent platform for discussion) for what standards SHOULD be met by the press (I mean Kai touches on it above, but its framing within the specific context of an individual article won’t necessarily get you a discussion on the bigger issue at hand).

        • I don’t think attacking media bias is a fruitless endeavor.

          There are reasons why I’m more likely to write a post criticizing media bias using the example that got me thinking about it. One reason is because I try to express a thought I want to share when writing a blog post. Most of the time, when I run across a really good article, there’s little to nothing for me to add. As such, I’ll usually just share it in Google Reader/Buzz.

          When it comes to blogging, however, it’s about me expressing a point I want to share. For me personally, china/divide is not about sharing examples of good journalism or media reporting. It’s about sharing and discussing the things that contribute to the divide between China/Chinese and The West/Westerners. Nevermind that its easier to be annoyed with a bad piece than a feel utterly blown away by a good one, I have things to say about a bad piece whereas I have little to say about a good piece. I already have tools for sharing good stuff with others or anything I don’t have a longer comment on, but blogging is where I can share longer comments. On china/divide, it’s about sharing stuff I think causes problems.

          sec­ond because it only serves to give more atten­tion to those media out­lets that make such errors,

          Sure, but there’s good and bad attention, like good and bad feedback. If your kid puts his hand on a hot plate, do you not draw attention to it? Or do you do so an try explaining why you’re against it? The immediate additional attention comes with potential long-term effects.

          and third because you aren’t pro­vid­ing a model (let alone a decent plat­form for dis­cus­sion) for what stan­dards SHOULD be met by the press

          Eh. I don’t think criticism requires providing alternatives or dictating models. “Don’t touch the hot plate, touch this ice cub tray instead!” Can’t really help you with the “decent platform for discussion” bit though.

          As for what standards SHOULD be met, well, the RFA does have a code of ethics…

          • AndyR

            Well, I thought as much, but still wanted to bring it up just to “troll” as you continue to refer to the responses of those that disagree with you as…

            I see your point about holding people accountable to what they write…but I also think that in turning my reply into a series of “floating sentences” you make it all the more easy to attribute “false positions” to my intended meaning. (Just to be clear, I don’t think in this particular case you have done that, I’m just saying that I have seen this style of debate lead to greater misunderstandings in the past)

            Anyway, if it is your style go for it, but I think you take things out of the responders’ intended context when you do it that way and may totally miss their meaning. There is a reason people organize sentences into paragraphs (some better than others), the macro-structure is as important to the meaning of the response as the micro-structure (but you have a background in law, no? so I might see where you’ve developed this style of ignoring the macro in favor of getting cheap hits in by taking sentences out of context…)

            Keep ‘em coming Kai, despite my personal aversions to your “style”, you guys are doing good work at this site and it is much appreciated.

          • AndyR

            I guess I don’t see how drawing attention to the “divide” by endlessly harping on the MINUTE (and the problems with the article you’ve discussed above are indeed minute, even you seem to admit this) mistakes of the media ends up really accomplishing your goal of bridging the divide between Westerners and Chinese. It draws attention to that divide yes. It identifies potential causes of that divide (and in many cases I might argue that it actually misdirects us from discussing the true causes of this divide). But does it bridge it? To me you’ve got the scaffolding in place, but have left the hard questions unanswered. Now maybe you aren’t interested in trying to answer those questions i.e. what does an “objective” China story look like? How SHOULD the media be discussing China in a responsible way? If you aren’t interested that is fair, I just thought that with some of the lofty goals this site has put forth, someone might want to take the discussion beyond another masturbatory “media bias” rant…which to be quite honest are a dime a dozen…

            Just to be clear, I’m not saying you should only discuss the good, I’m saying if we really have a problem with the public discussion of China then we should discuss solutions in conjunction with the problems. We should discuss how to improve as well as criticize. We should discuss who is doing things right as well as who is doing things wrong. Otherwise it IS a fruitless endeavor in my opinion. It’s complaining for the sake of complaining…

          • AndyR,

            We disagree with a lot of things here yet I don’t recall calling you a “troll” or calling your disagreement “trolling”. I don’t agree with you suggesting that I “continue to refer” to responses of those who disagree with me as trolling, given the ample evidence here and elsewhere where I do no such thing. You may be sympathetic to some of the people who troll me, but it isn’t very honest of you to characterize me this way.

            I see your point about hold­ing peo­ple account­able to what they write…but I also think that in turn­ing my reply into a series of “float­ing sen­tences” you make it all the more easy to attribute “false posi­tions” to my intended mean­ing.

            I have rarely encountered a situation where someone has accused me of attributing “false positions” to them and I haven’t been able to quote, within context, even more damning evidence of them expressing such positions without qualification or nuance.

            I’m just say­ing that I have seen this style of debate lead to greater mis­un­der­stand­ings in the past

            I understand. My experience is just that those who do not quote tend to create greater misunderstandings because instead of acknowledging what the other person actually said, they begin projecting onto them. That’s my experience. I don’t like it.

            but I think you take things out of the respon­ders’ intended con­text when you do it that way and may totally miss their mean­ing.

            Sure, I get this sometimes, but I rarely get anyone convince me how I was supposed to interpret their previous statements or contexts differently. For example, someone will say something racist or ethnocentric and I’ll call them out on it. Rarely, if ever, have they proven my interpretation to be unreasonable. Almost all the time, they just insist they’re not and I shouldn’t think they are regardless of the comments I highlight for them that gave me that impression. I see that as people not wanting to be held accountable for their speech. They believe how others should see them should be divorced from how they express themselves. I don’t agree with that.

            here is a rea­son peo­ple orga­nize sen­tences into para­graphs (some bet­ter than oth­ers), the macro-structure is as impor­tant to the mean­ing of the response as the micro-structure (but you have a back­ground in law, no? so I might see where you’ve devel­oped this style of ignor­ing the macro in favor of get­ting cheap hits in by tak­ing sen­tences out of context…)

            You keep saying I ignore overall meanings or, here, the “macro-structure” yet you haven’t really explained how I’ve done so. I do like to think I’m good at dissecting arguments and pointing out where an argument or conclusion involves a fallacy or a jump in logic but I don’t think these are cheap hits nor am I taking sentences out of context. Most of the time, I haven’t been convinced that I took something out of context, but I have been convinced that I pointed out something the other person doesn’t want pointed out about themselves or their argument/conclusion.

            Keep ‘em com­ing Kai, despite my per­sonal aver­sions to your “style”, you guys are doing good work at this site and it is much appreciated.

            Like I said above, I love you too. I know we differ with regards to many issues as well as argumentative style. I think our ability to openly acknowledge our agreements despite our other disagreements or aversions is and will be the one thing that maintains a basic mutual respect for each other.

          • AndyR,

            Whoa, you have another comment. Onto the second one then:

            end­lessly harp­ing on the MINUTE (and the prob­lems with the arti­cle you’ve dis­cussed above are indeed minute, even you seem to admit this) mis­takes of the media ends up really accom­plish­ing your goal of bridg­ing the divide between West­ern­ers and Chi­nese.

            I don’t think I endlessly harp. I write about and comment on plenty of other things. I’m not sure if I “admit” that these are “minute” problems. I actually think suggesting that Chinese Twitter users are representative of Chinese netizens overall is a pretty egregious mistake at best and misrepresentation at worst. Again, I think anyone imagining how they’d feel about the opposite can immediately empathize and agree.

            Bridging the divide is indeed one of my personal goals, but so is observations about the divide, which I think is a more accurate representation of this blog. I think bridging the divide involves humility so both sides can relax their natural defensiveness. Self-deprecation and earnest honesty about one’s own shortcomings wherever they manifest themselves contributes to this humility. I think NOT acknowledging or self-critiquing one’s own problems simply because one feels they are of lesser import than the problems of the other person breeds impressions of arrogance and self-righteousness that widens that divide.

            what does an “objec­tive” China story look like?

            Again, I think trying to define an “objective” China story (or any story) is the wrong approach. In fact, I think it is foolish. There is little to no demand for a single unified theory of objectivity but there is an overwhelming demand for avoiding unnecessary indulgences in exploiting bias, prejudice, and misrepresentation. I think trying to tell you what objective ISN’T is far more productive than trying to tell you what objective IS.

            Think about this for a second. You are currently, and have previously, criticized my writing as NOT what is helpful to bridging the divide. Why are you spending your time doing this as opposed to telling me what IS helpful to bridging the divide?

            You’re caught in your own criticism, AndyR. Negative feedback has its place. It’s practical, and there’s a good reason pain exists in addition to pleasure.

            For the record, while I openly suggested that the RFA is biased, this post wasn’t really about proving media bias. I don’t think I need to do that. This post was about how inappropriate it is to use Chinese Twitter users as a proxy for Chinese netizens.

            I’m say­ing if we really have a prob­lem with the pub­lic dis­cus­sion of China then we should dis­cuss solu­tions in con­junc­tion with the prob­lems.

            Sure, and the solution is sometimes as simple as to avoid making the mistakes that are pointed out. One can’t avoid them if they aren’t identified, right? All of us grow up figuring out how to be reasonably decent members of this society through a combination of aspirational models as well as examples of what we SHOULDN’T be like. I think it is fine that you want more people to point out what we SHOULD be like, but I’m just not interested in it at the moment. It doesn’t mean I’m against it, but it does mean I’m against you being against me pointing out what we SHOULDN’T be like. I just consider this approach to still be relevant and valuable. You don’t have to agree but it does seem odd that you’re doing what you’re criticizing me for. Why aren’t you showing me how to blog in a more meaningful way as you believe it should be rather than “endlessly harping” (I’m teasing you here) on the problems you see with my approach?


            We should dis­cuss how to improve as well as crit­i­cize. We should dis­cuss who is doing things right as well as who is doing things wrong.

            Sure, I’m not against that. You’re welcome to follow me on Google Buzz and start discussions on all of the good articles I run across and share.

            Oth­er­wise it IS a fruit­less endeavor in my opin­ion. It’s com­plain­ing for the sake of complaining…

            Sure, its your opinion. My opinion is that it isn’t and I don’t think it is complaining for the sake of complaining. Shrug.

        • Jones

          Oh, no, I was being facetious…poking fun at the “welcome to China” bit you always hear/see before you actually arrive. I always hated that misunderstanding of the use of “welcome to _____” phrase…

    • AndyR,

      I actually wrote a paragraph openly considering whether the RFA could be given a pass for assuming its audience is smart enough to know the Twitter situation in China. However, I didn’t feel confident about it.

      It’s not that I think people are going to mistake these Twitter users as being representative of “all Twitter users” or “all netizens”, but I do think RFA is playing loose with the association with “Chinese netizens”. As with the example I give, I don’t think they’d play so loosely with other “netizens” this way.

      But as I’ve com­plained before, is the ques­tion of media bias that impor­tant? Or if impor­tant, are we crit­i­ciz­ing it in an effec­tive way?

      As I’ve said before, I think it is important. Whether the way we or anyone criticizes it in an effective way is an open question. Maybe I should start a post for all of us to discuss what would be more effective ways to criticize media bias wherever they occur?

      To me, this debate has been going on more loudly in China since the 2008 Olympics and even longer inter­nally in the US.

      Not incorrect but I feel there’s deficiencies in approaching the problem of media bias within specific contexts. For example, it’s one thing to recognize and denounce media bias in America when it’s about political slants (Fox News versus…uh…), but I feel there’s far less willingness to acknowledge and denounce media bias when it is placed in a context involving, relating, or compared to Chinese media or any subject where there is traditional us-vs-them mentalities.

      We all real­ize the media is biased, we can all pick out indi­vid­ual arti­cles and pick apart the bias in them, has all this com­plain­ing forced any media orga­ni­za­tions to improve? No, and one of the big rea­sons is peo­ple like bias, they like news that agrees with them, so they choose the biased news that suits their world­view.

      Sure, totally recognize this. Still doesn’t absolve them of criticisms of bias.

      In my opin­ion, we would do bet­ter pub­li­ciz­ing and dis­cussing those arti­cles that do jour­nal­ism the right way, rather than end­lessly giv­ing the worst exam­ples even more atten­tion.

      I dunno, man. Not sure I agree with this and not only because there’s little for me to discuss about articles I agree with. Discussion only occurs if someone disagrees about something. I think humans benefit from both positive and negative feedback. I also think humans like myself tend to rely on negative feedback more than positive feedback to express our views of the world. People, I think, know what they don’t like better than what they think is ideal. It’s kinda hard specifying ideals all the time, but easier and more flexible to draw limits.

      After all, doesn’t this blog post only serve up more hits by link­ing to the Radio Free Asia site, thus giv­ing them even more rea­son to con­tinue in the same lazy vein?

      Yeah, I understand. I just consider it an acceptable price to pay if more people realize the problem with such reporting and become more critical of similar pieces they might run into in the future.

      I love you too, AndyR. Until I have to slap you.

      • AndyR

        :-) Why would you want to slap me? You’re the one who LOVES disagreement! HAHA…would actually love to get a beer with you one day and have a real discussion face to face, as long as there was no slapping involved!

        See my response above. I don’t think critiquing media bias is useless. I think it is only half the conversation and thus useless at really affecting the change both you and I would like to see!

        Take it easy man, believe me I don’t critique out of hate, if it was hate, you wouldn’t keep hearing from me on this site!

        • AndyR

          Also, can I complain about the “pulling individual sentences” debate style that goes on here? You end up arguing against sentences rather than the context of the whole reply. I didn’t bullet point my reply, so there’s no reason for people responding to my post to do so. I know this has been popular form of debating for a while on these China blogs, but it seems to totally corrupt the discussion (to me anyways…)

        • Cuz we’re kinky like that.

          I revel in love-hate relationships. All my trolls secretly love me. That’s why I keep finding their love letters in the spam folder.

          You can complain but I’m not likely to listen to you. The suggestion you’re making is that I’m responding to you without consideration to context. I don’t think I do that. You’re welcome to point out how I am though. I’m very big on quoting and replying because the whole point is to acknowledge what you’ve read, as the other person wrote/said it, and exactly what you’re disagreeing or responding to. I learned it in the conflict resolution lesson back in elementary school. :)

          I value people qualifying their statements because I think when they don’t, when they don’t add appropriate nuance to their statements, they needlessly contribute to themselves being misunderstood (or just betraying their own lack of a nuanced position). I try to hold myself to the same standard and people take me to task when I get sloppy as well. I think it is our own responsibility to hedge against saying more than we intend. I don’t like it when others try to project or pin positions on me that I don’t have, so I do my best to make sure they can’t do that by being very clear about what I think. I know this isn’t everyone’s style, but it’s mine.

    • lolz

      Haha, I just love the code of ethics for RFA:

      “Our broadcast and online stories and programs must be accurate, fair, and balanced. We must maintain a calm, dispassionate tone and avoid polemics, propaganda, or slurs directed against any persons, groups, or governments. We will not preach or talk down to our listeners. We must remain independent of any political party, opposition group, exile organization, or religious body and we shall not advocate any political viewpoint.”

      Whereas the U.S. International Broadcasting Act of 1994 (PL 103-236, title III) is more explicit about the mission of RFA: “the continuation of existing U.S. international broadcasting, and the creation of a new broadcasting service to people of the People’s Republic of China and other countries of Asia, which lack adequate sources of free information and ideas, would enhance the promotion of information and ideas, while advancing the goals of U.S. foreign policy.”

      Now if RFA puts “the advancing the goals of US foreign policy” in its mission statement then it would sound a lot less hypocritical.

  3. DJ


    The most dangerous form of propaganda is one for which people like you argue that it is ok because it serves some supposedly good cause. The Chinese government propaganda is far less dangerous because both readers inside and outside recognize what it is. The RSA and quite a number of medias outlets from the so called free world, on the other hand, has some people actually believing in its virtual.

    Do you believe in American exceptism? Or do you still believe there is WMD to be found in Iraq?

  4. Having lived in Dalian for a few years, I’m still in contact with some friends there. Most of them aren’t concerned about the politics of the visit as much as they are pissed about the traffic blockades.

    I definitely agree that western media needs to be careful not to extrapolate the opinions of Chinese on Twitter to the whole nation. They are just the English speaking tip of a huge iceberg of Chinese netizens, the larger underportion of which is totally invisible to reporters who can’t read Chinese.

    This is where bridge bloggers come in handy, though I have yet to see any other reports of Chinese reaction to L’il Kim’s visit.

    I guess reports like the RFA’s are better than no reports at all. We just need to be careful about how we digest them.

  5. King Tubby

    Forget media misrepresentation. Twitter, FB or whatever Chinese version.


    Facts. Totally secured avenue. 40 limos and an ambulance, plus a guy with platform shoes, shades and thinning hair visiting Beijing and holding a beggars bowl.

    The present leadership would do a deal with a skunk (Zimbabwe, Sudan ), but even they must be holding their noses on this one. Sort of like having a recidivist pedo uncle usually hidden away in the pigpen, being ushered into the lounge room to discuss the family inheritance.

    Once again, the Dear Leader wins a hand of poker, knowing full well that if North Korea implodes, China has a major problem in the adjoining provinces.

    KJI is a card hustler of the first order, and Hu and co are about to get suckered with a Cool Hand Luke play.
    (Saw it again last Sunday.)

    • King Tubby

      And he will welch on his exorbitant hotel by paying in fake Chinese currency.

      • Probably because his fake US currency has depreciated. Wasn’t North Korea’s largest export counterfeit USD?

        • King Tubby

          True, along with ice to Japan, fake cigarettes and sundry other killing commodities. I think the department responsible for raising overseas revenue is called Section 39. About four or five years ago, the DPROK turned out a goodly quantity of rmb, and the Chinese govt closed the border for awhile in protest.

          The final episode in KJI’s and Brilliant Son’s excellent PRC adventure.

          Bags of cash safety stowed on the private train back to the homeland.

          “Five thousand years of history. S…, son, they were easy meat. Suckas. Rabbited on about the need for an Asian sea of tranquility, and then reached for the checkbook”.
          A pensive look out the window at the skeletal peasantry (a Mao moment).
          “Being a Leader is a hard gig. If I had my life over again, I would have liked to have been an Asian John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. I had the style”.
          Head jolt back to the present.
          “Back to the drawing board. We had better chill for awhile, and then maybe a missile or two towards Japan….

    • Jones

      China has experience in building great walls. Maybe they could build another one? There’s a lot less land to cover on that border than the old one.

  6. For what it is worth, I agree with your taking exception to the manor in which the original RFA story was written. But the question for me, as the hair-splitting seems focused on the role of Twitter in China, is whether this is a blatant attempt by RFA to twist facts to suit a propagandized purpose or just plain ignorance of the news writer. Notwithstanding that I tend to believe the latter, as the story itself has such little purpose to twist, I believe that the mistake itself cuts to the heart of the very purpose of RFA’s existence, i.e. to get the story right. These kinds of mistakes, by design or by accident, simply cut away the agency’s credibility as a news service. Consequently, right on Kai Pan!

  7. Bai Ren

    God damn it.
    Trying to be a responsible commentater I go through the current collection of posts and jeese, sometimes one looses theirself in the arguement.

    @ the Kai andy debate
    I think Kai did, though maybe unknowingly, proffer a better model for jounalism. To represent the facts. The fact that Twitter IS NOT respresentitive of chinese netizens was over looked in the RFA piece and was the center of Kai’s blog. By critiqueing the RFA like this Kai appears to be implying that contextualizing the sourses of infromation, and even comparing them to other sourses ie sina, qq, soho etc. the journalism would have been far more accurate AND responsible.
    -love to put words into the mouth of another and say im giving an interpretation of Kai.

    Hate to brown nose on this, but this story is exactly the kind of critique I expect from China divide as the RFA piece is a perfect example of what is adding to the divide. And giving a reasoned critique of it helps to bridge the divide as it alows readers (who although most of us are probably aware of all of this aready) to understand the misleading information. It could use some imporovement if Kai did a little homework and compared the Twitter stuff to anything of the same on mainstream Chinese netizen pages.

    Enough of that.
    The anti north korean content is not the most important issue here. What is important is the publication of Chinese netizens criticising what their government appearently supports -hosting Kim. This adds the ideology that the internet is helping to develop a western type of civil society that is based on a western model of public vs government power struggles.

    Chinese netizens are not atypically like this. Even when there are major issues followed and commented on over Rights abuses, the neoliberal debate in 2004 etc. (I can provide numerous examples of this if asked) these comments are not directly critical. Rather they foster a form of debate which, much like Dorothy Solingers finding of the public sphere of CHinese migrant workers, is critical of but at the same time supportive and obediant to the powers that be.

    This is why I think Kai’s article would be vastly improved with a little survay of the issue from other CHinese netizen sites (sadly my Chinese is still below the point where I could do this myself). And why he is acting to bridge the divide by calling the RFA piece (and journalist) to task.

  8. Leo

    RFA is designed to mislead and misrepresent. It is basically a “war propaganda”, in the sense that it does not intend to inform and enlighten its intended audience. It basically treats its audience as the people of a wartime enemy country and its purpose is confuse and psychologically weaken them.

    So it is futile to talk about RFA with common sense. RFA is simply irrational.

  9. OTR

    Radio Free Asia does indeed have an agenda, but it does not represent the whole of the “Western media.”

    RFA’s whole point is to carry stories that authoritarian governments suppress. Sometimes it does so in a good way (its Tibetan-language broadcasts, etc), sometimes it feels more like RFA wishes something were true than that it really is true. And sometimes RFA simplifies things to the point of not being at all informative.

    How many Americans do any of you know who wake up in the morning and read Radio Free Asia? None, I’m guessing. It’s an activist news outlet. And it should be criticized or praised on those terms.

    • pug_ster

      How many Amer­i­cans do any of you know who wake up in the morn­ing and read Radio Free Asia? None, I’m guess­ing. It’s an activist news out­let. And it should be crit­i­cized or praised on those terms.

      Yeah, that’s because they broadcast the propaganda to the Asian countries, and not the US.

    • OTR,

      No, no one is saying RFA represents the whole of the “Western media”.

      I definitely know it is an activist news outlet. I think I make that pretty clear at the beginning and end of my post. However, I’m not sure I fully agree with the idea of criticizing or praising it in terms of it being an “activist news outlet”. Is that like criticizing or praising Stormfront on the terms of it being a “racist online community”?

      I know I know, you’re likely (hopefully) suggesting that we should praise or criticize it for its effectiveness as an activist news outlet. I’m just teasing you. However, I think that’s one way of approaching it, and my way is another. I also think measuring it up against its own code of ethics is a legitimate and valuable approach as well.

      • Bai Ren

        Didn’t the poison little dwarf Gobbles say that the best lies start with truth? I dunno but the grandfather of modern propaganda certianly seems to have influenced the RFA report.

        The best propaganda however is not big lies -ie soviet russia, but clear and evident facts -ie consumerist america. WHO converted WHOM?

        The RFA is a state subsidezed enterprise that couldnt exist on the freemarket. Its endevors -if neoliberalism turns out to be right- will be futile.

        Sensationalism -that is market based journalism is little better.

        So when complaints ring out on China’s journalistic media and fall on the deaf ears of average chinese citizens should we be suprised? When we say ‘you only have propaganda’ or ‘your journalists are restricted by government mandates’, cannot the Chinese reply in return ‘you only have public relations (you know, that thing invented by Freud’s nefew Edward Bernes for commercialism as a form of peace time propaganda)’, and ‘your journalists are mussled by the market’?

        NO I am NOT appologizing. Taking a middle of the road stance. Journalism was best realized (from my limited knowledge on the subject) in the American constitution as haveing the duty to inform the people of the nation… or something of the sort.

        give a ding to Dan Carlin’s podcast common sense

  10. hm

    Actually, I read something about this in the Boston Globe.

  11. Howard

    What is RFA? Is RFA for “Radio Free America”, which is a radio station set up and run by the Chinese government, or the US government?

Continuing the Discussion