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Beijing's audience

Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on May 2, 2008

The backlash against the backlash has begun. For weeks now, we’ve been reading about Chinese officials, Chinese students overseas, ordinary Chinese at home, furious about the coverage of Tibet and the Olympic torch relay. The rage against Carrefour, against CNN, against politicians like Nancy Pelosi (called “disgusting” by the Chinese press) and activists like Mia Farrow (who flew into Hong Kong yesterday for a speech timed to coincide with the return of the torch to China after its controversial trip abroad)is now leading China to lose supporters abroad. According to John Pomfret, former Beijing bureau chief for the Washington Post and now the paper’s Outlook editor and blogger about China, “across the globe China is dropping in the polls. And it’s not due to lack of contact with the Chinese, people who are polled say, it’s because we’re getting to know them better.” Adds Barron YoungSmith in the New Republic’s the Plank blog: “Recent months have seen China’s global standing plummet like Bill Clinton in South Carolina.”

At least some Chinese officials must realize their spin doesn’t quite cut it with Western audiences. So why the bizarre rhetoric? Maybe they’re so angry with the Dalai Lama and his supporters overseas that they just can’t restrain themselves. Or maybe they know just what they’re doing. Recall how back in the mid-1990s, before Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule, Beijing tore into then-Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten for daring to propose democratic reforms. Patten was a “whore,” “criminal” and a “serpent.”

The worry then, just a few years after Tiananmen’s democracy movement, was that Patten’s policies would catch on in Hong Kong and win fans across the border in the mainland itself. So Beijing’s propagandists went into overdrive to remind Chinese just how disloyal it would be for them even to consider siding with Patten. And sure enough, minutes after midnight on July 1, 1997, while the last governor was sailing out of Victoria Harbor with Price Charles aboard the Royal Yacht Britainia, the Chinese government dumped his reforms. London was powerless to do anything about it. By denouncing the “Dalai clique” and calling Nancy Pelosi “a protector of mobsters, arsonists and murderers,” Beijing again is sending a message to the 1.3 billion Chinese inside the PRC. If that turns people off in the U.S. or Europe, so be it.

Reader Comments

not convinced

May 2, 2008 1:09 PM

The West, and particularly the British, are hypocrites. Hong Kong had been a British colony for 100 years, and on the eve of returning it to China, Chris Patten proposed democratic reform. I will bet my bottom dollars that if Hong Kong were going to be under the British rule for another 100 year, democrocy will not happen in Hong Kong during that time.


May 2, 2008 11:02 PM

Does China and Chinese care what you foreigners "think" of China? China is what China is. Chinese care about what China will be for the Chinese. China being there is not to please your foreigners.


May 3, 2008 12:46 AM

Patten proposed "democracy" in HK few years before handover. The British has 150 years to do that, but chose to do it few years before handover. Now that is what I called Trojan horse.

The west promote freedom of speech, yet they rarely listen to others. God give you two ears and only one mouth you know?

across the globe China is dropping in the polls? according to who? whose polls? western media? Heck, in Asia, China has never been more popular than today. Those few oppositions have the loudest voice because they're backed by CIA and Western bias media, which is also paid by CIA to demonize China.

Bruce, maybe you should get out of your desk and start writing the facts, not just writing based on what your government tells you.


May 3, 2008 2:01 AM

Nancy Pelosi is a monster.She loves killing innocents so well as long as it's done by Americans. And she's pratically in bed with Bush though maintaining a stern look for the public to see. I don't see a democratic congress has done the US any good.
And who cares about yr stupid polls.they're done by white facists diguised by "democracy" anyway. And the US not only stamps on Chinese, they stamp on the rest of the world. They'd curse and belittle y if y dare to defend yr country. They'd smear and distort and would never admit y have a point too. They'd cling to their bigotry and believe whoever has a different opinion is definitely brainwashed. What a lovely people


May 3, 2008 2:06 AM

Don't mislead readers. Overseas Chinese activities has nothing to do with Chinese government.

Those activities are very necessary when large-scale lies against China in the western world. And the situation is beyond tolerant overseas Chinese. Western media became a joke among Chinese.

Let me tell you: Chinese don't count too much on so-called mainstream media. The internet give big space to grass-root media-Internet. More acurate information can be found there. Apparently western world did not realize it.

Bruce, let me ask you: You have office in Hong Kong and are working on Chinese reports. Do you understand Chinese language?

Overseas Chinese have information input from Chinese and their host countries. This time, they found western media are so mean.

Nancy Pelosi “a protector of mobsters, arsonists and murderers,”. This is my first time to hear that. But if you know she is on the side of riots in Lhasa, and she called it a peaceful protest, isn't that true?


May 3, 2008 2:24 AM

When western world call a head of serf owners a peaceful person. it is ridiculous enough and very well reflects wetern propaganda. The other truth is that Dala Lama had wars in China until late 1970s when Sino-US relationship was changing and CIA retreated it hopeless military mission.

Also for Hong Kong, isn't a big sucess for China? Of course in our Chinese way. Hong Kong is still a financial center and economy is growing fast even the bubble blowed by Londen bursted there in 1997 right after Hong Kong was returned to China. Olypic torch relay just took place 2 days ago in Hong Kong. I guess you feeled the cheers of Hong Kong people if you were there. Of course there were some protesters, but they could be ignored, right? Don't tell me Hong Kong people are under calls from Chinese Communist Party.


May 3, 2008 6:31 AM

It looks like what westerners did, was for the western domestic audiance even though it makes ordinary Chinese mad like hell because it makes westerners feels superior. Same goes with Chinese government. What you guys call the world consists of only 900 millions people. There are 1.3 billions Chinese and 10 millions oversea Chinese and 1 billions India who don't like to be bullied by you guys. You guys just assume ordinary Chinese would agree with you no matter what you do. What a bunch of idiots.


May 3, 2008 12:10 PM

I guess that the BusinessWeek censor is working over time due to the nature of this piece of work. Bias and inflammatory piece of work.
BusinessWeek want to become a political magazine by looking many of the articles that have nothing to do with Business like the most recent done by Bruce Einhorn.


May 3, 2008 4:16 PM

Bruce, if a person like you is turned off by PRC, PRC is doing a good job and right thing at the same time. You have never failed to show your lofty hypocrisy and intelligent ignorance here in businessweek...


May 3, 2008 5:13 PM

Now everyone knows the true nature of dirty, bad China. And who has helped make this monster stronger? Corporations and Wall St.


May 3, 2008 9:03 PM

China isn't rising becase it has the approval of Westerners. Just as that logic is flawed, so will be thinking China will fall because of bad "polls." Everything you want to do is a double-edged sword to the West. SO go do it and China will weather the storm must better than you. Just go by your own propaganda. If everything in China is made from slave labor, what effect is your attempt to sanction, embargo, or boycott going to have on a people that aren't making any money in the first place? It's called nothing?


May 4, 2008 9:45 PM

TO Bruce Einhorn (author)
You didn't mention why Chinese protests happened. I think you even didn't think about it due to your prejudice.That's why you release this rubbishy crap.
if"we’re getting to know them better" you shouldn't keep your impression of China shaped nearly 20 years ago not long after Tiananmen’s democracy movement.So you don't know China well, you can't see china's improvement on human rights ,democracy and freedom.No one can deny China's progress and improvement in recent 30 years.But which speed of this improvement can make western media satisfied?


May 4, 2008 11:19 PM

China has dropped in the polls not because of the backlash by Chinese youths and students but because of constant demonizing of China in the Western press, particulalry on the coverage of the Tibetan riots lately. The average Westerner knows little if anything about China, but get incredibly self-righteous after reading just a few biased reports on the country and act as if they know all.

Jia Ming

May 5, 2008 12:27 AM

The backlash against the backlash? that is the comeback from the Western press? what is this? third grade? I wonder what the comeback from the Chinese side will be. A backlash against the backlash against the backlash? Chinese are too smart to play this juvenile game. hahaha...


May 5, 2008 5:35 AM

the west and China needs to learn to get along with each other. So far, it looks like China has been the only one bending over backwards all the time. what is the west doing to get along? Don`t be mistaken. China has a large enough domestic economy to not need the west. The west is convinced that it is superior and that it "allowed" China to develop. China will be a superpower whether the west likes it or not. I suggest the west and its peoples learn to tone down its anti-chinese rhetoric before we all head towards WWIII. You`ll discover that when you tone down your rhetoric, the Chinese will do likewise.


May 5, 2008 6:54 AM

Moment's heat, but then what does it mean to job opportunities and careers for Chinese students abroad?


May 6, 2008 1:24 PM


Business week should talk to you regarding your article. I am surprised by how biased your article is. I can't help to think you are either slow enought to see the truth or intentionaly spit lie like the other west media are doing.

If western media continue doing what they have been doing, the bankrupsy of the trust of west media only comes fast and more thorough. Westerns are still in their fantasy or use the hyped media fantasy of their moral high ground. Wakeup, you never had or has moral high ground, they have better organized military forces around the world and propergander mechine in the world. Read your own professor Hungtington's book.

Let me say that to you: Bruce you are a disgusting lier!

Jalal Alamgir

May 7, 2008 12:43 PM

The last line of this article is the one that matters: "Beijing again is sending a message to the 1.3 billion Chinese inside the PRC. If that turns people off in the U.S. or Europe, so be it." Exactly. For too long the US media as well as analysts have tried to understand China (in vain) using conventional Western tools of understanding international relations, which highlight conflict. In fact, China's relations with East Asia (its main support group) has been remarkably peaceful, and is striking by its relative lack of war since 1200 AD, esp. compared to the record Europe and the Americas. Dismissing the model by which China governs as simply authoritarian or repressive is simplistic. Stability is China's main concern, and really it does not matter what the media here think, business as well as politics between China and the West will continue to be stable, because in China's perceptions peace remains the major objective of international relations.

Little blips aside, China will not be anywhere near as provocative in global economy and politics as it is often expected to be in the West.

Jalal Alamgir


May 8, 2008 1:23 AM

China desires to use its young people around the world as a colonial bully army. But that bully army suddenly becomes craven cowards when they pick fights with their hosts and find out they are not only out-numbered but breaking the local laws as well. The Chinese students are too stupid to understand that their free speech is granted to them by their host nation and that the citizens of that nation also have the right to speak out and to defend their nation against bad Chinese colonial aggression.

Take South Korea for example:


May 9, 2008 9:48 AM

Interesting stuff here...while not perfect, HK has not become a totalitarian cesspool under mainland rule as an SAR. Success story (so far) there. The Olympics are different and may be a harbinger of thinsg to come. The government now plays the nationalist card and the populace (understandably) enthusiastically shows their patriotism, which is occasionally violent and rabid with rage. The perceived and real interference and slights by the west adds to this fervor. The problem is that this patriotic frenzy will lead to other types of unrest as the populace, especially those who have been wronged or have fallen behind during this 20 plus year economic miracle, sees the rife corruption and thievery by the ruling elite and realizes the illegitimacy of the withered corpses that sit in the Politburo.


May 13, 2008 6:50 PM

People has been expecting China to crash since 1949 and China still growing strong despite of all the sanction and wars!

Nationalism was fuel by the Tibetan trouble maker with tacit complicity of foreign government to hurt China.
Look at the coordinate attack on the torch relay in Paris and London!! Who finance those trouble maker? Look at the Western news making lies about Lashas crack down by using Nepal and India crackdown on the Tibetan troublemaker!
Those are the one who are fueling the nationalism and not the government.
Blame other for your mistake!


June 19, 2008 12:07 PM

Let me say this, " What China does up front is done by West behind curtain. " There is no two ways about it. West is a big eliphant, that has teeth to show and seperate teeth to chew.

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