Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Thursday, 10. December 2009, 04:56:47
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U.S. President Barack Obama said Monday, Nov 16, 2009 in Shanghai that Washington was not trying to contain China's rise.Addressing students at a town hall-style meeting in Shanghai on the first full day of his first trip to China, Obama said the notion that Washington and Beijing must be adversaries was not pre-destined.

"We do not seek to contain China's rise," Obama said before taking questions from the audience as well as from Chinese over the Internet."On the contrary we welcome China as a strong and prosperous and successful member of the community of nations -- a China that draws on the right strengths and creativity of individual Chinese."

Above statement is all fine and well for a U.S. President attempting to take a more harmonious approach to U.S. China relation but will the U.S. media take heed? Not likely, as it is difficult for the U.S. media to snap out of the habit of over 50 years of practicing containing China.


Without going into to the history of the cold war era that put both countries at odds with each other one can simply say that the U.S. in her desire to maintain her dominant position after World War II is reluctant to let go. However, China coming behind as a rising developing country eager in development has long abandoned her cold war strategy as irrelevant. These major differences determine how different fundamentally each reports world news. Without much ado let us summarize the different modes of operation that distinguish U.S. and China media.


U.S. media is relatively free in domestic news reporting but not so in world news reporting. The later is heavily constrained by politically correct self censorship, lest the news will not sell. News that bashes China sells because the U.S. Public has been conditioned to treat China as an adversary through out the cold war era. Thus the U.S. media finds it convenient to support the Government’s policy and exercise self censorship. The U.S. media also consciously or otherwise does not seem it necessary to change the cold war practice. It seems bad news about other countries also sell well because it appeals to the general complacency mentality that we are the greatest nation. It is a self indulgence to feed on other nation’s failure, particularly in regard to the presupposed adversaries. When all justification fails, God is on our side and we can do no wrong. This type of self righteousness is self fulfilling until we are willing to closely examine the reality and willing to do some soul searching self examination.

President Obama’s admission that it may be desirable to stop containing China as a perceived enemy is a self admission. But it will take time for U.S. media to perform self correction.The October, 2009 World Media Summit that brought all major media of the world together is a very good sign. The joint statement of the Summit declared that world media is committed to more fair and diverse news reporting. The need to cooperate is ever so pressing because of the growing developing countries market. China is the biggest growing developing market. Through the World Media Summit and other venues of cooperation we may finally see the U.S. media will begin to transmit China Xinhua and other developing country media news for a change. So far, because of lack of resources the developing countries have been obliged to transmit Western media news with a Western centric bias. China, because of it reform and open up policy is a very good example of willingness to transmit international news carried by Associated Press and Reuters.

The other carry over habit from the cold war era is our desire to export our value and ideology. This becomes very pronounced during the Bush presidency. The aftermath of the Iraq war has proved to the world that democracy is not an easily exportable commodity without a lot of externally imposed blood shed. Democracy is harmony within one nation that best grown from within without out side force. Every new country today declares itself a democracy by name. This demonstrates clearly the popularity of democracy as a form of government. As to how democratic a nation is depends on that country’s cultural value, historical development to reach its own harmonious society. After all, democracy in a general sense means harmony between the government and its citizen. There is no democracy when there is no harmony within the society.


Ever since the reform and open up policy launched by Deng Xiaoping, Chinese media enjoys great deal of freedom in international news reporting. This is due to many reasons. Among the more easily reorganized ones are:Chinese population desires to learn from the West. Chinese government has no political agenda to export ideology. The Chinese public hungers for outside news. China does not want to lead the world. China is still a developing country and has a lot to catch up with the outside. Officials strictly abide by Deng’s advice to be humble. Cultural Revolution serves as the negative example for class or international struggle. There is a general tendency to report good news to promote society and international harmony. China according to Deng does not see the necessity for war. World development is seen as win win mutual development for a long time to come. Chinese generally look at the bigger picture and take a longer look at history when it comes to foreign affairs. They have to because they were the victim of Western colonialism for over two centuries before they finally achieved some semblance of respect from the West recently. For full recognition as equal by the West, China has yet a long way to go. Harmony Diplomacy means make friends and not enemies.

The reference to Chinese internet control during Obama’s town hall speech in Shanghai is dubbed by Western Media reporting as the Great Firewall with certain glee and exaggeration. When in reality it is only an attempt by Chinese government to block Western interference in China domestic affairs such as Tibet and Xinjiang separatist movements and pornography for community protection but not intended to block constructive international exchange. This type of internet blocking of foreign interference is never very successful in this age of technology sophistication to infiltrate. The important thing remains, in time Chinese government will be more confident due to spread of prosperity and civic political maturity. China as a developing country has only three decades of relative stability. They still have a long way to go in development. No doubt there will come a time when internet censorship will not be necessary for internal stability as in the U.S. today. See the following Appendix, “The Difference Between American and Chinese Openness.”

In conclusion, to show how America must change with the tide of history, I quote from “The Post Imperial President, By Fareed Zakaria NEWSWEEK, Published Dec 5, 2009 “It is now clear that Obama is attempting something quite ambitious—to reorient American foreign policy to-ward something less extravagant and adversarial. That begins with narrowing the war on terror; scaling back the conflict with the Islamic world to those groups and countries that pose serious, direct threats to America; and reaching out to the rest. He has also tried to develop a better working relationship between America and other major powers like Russia and China, setting aside smaller issues in hopes of cooperating on bigger ones. This means departing from a bipartisan approach in which Washington's role was to direct the rest of the world, pushing regimes large and small to accept American ideas, and publicly chastising them when they refused. Obama is trying to break the dynamic that says that when an American president negotiates with the Chinese or Russians, he must return with rewards or concessions—or else he is guilty of appeasement.”

Francis C W Fung, Ph.D.
Director General
World Harmony Organization


Chinese students of her long history understand that the rise of Han and T’ang dynasties came about because of extensive cultural interaction with the world through flourishing commerce via the silk route that reached to Europe. They also understand the set backs of a self-imposed closed society during the later Ching dynasty (1600s – 1900s) because of the complacent and arrogant attitude that China had nothing to learn from the outside world. For over three hundred years since 1700, China suffered bitterly for not opening enough to the outside. However, the more recent Western-imposed containment during the early years of the founding of the People’s Republic of China was not entirely the fault of the Chinese government. (Mao Zedong was eager to normalize U.S.–China relations by launching "ping-pong diplomacy"). Thank goodness, that is all in the past and China has forged ahead with her reform and opening up initiated by Deng Xiaoping.

The last three decades of China’s success amply testify to her willingness to learn from the outside. There is no turning back.In my honest opinion and observation for today, America has a confident and open domestic society. But China is more open to the outside, because the nation as a whole is more willing to learn from the outside. Mere openness to outside news, without the humility to learn, can result in self-censorship and block acceptance of news about outside culture and success. This failing has happened to all declining powers in the past.China’s willingness to learn from the outside during the last three decades is exemplary for a country of her size. Throughout PBS news' spontaneous interviews of persons on the street during Obama’s Beijing visit, all knew Obama by name. A simple game of statistics by interviewing residents of major U.S. and China cities would no doubt show that more Chinese know Obama by name than Americans know Hu Jintao by name.

There is a general lack of respect and arrogance of the American public towards Chinese culture. This attitude is nurtured by the U.S. media’s chronic criticism of the Chinese government. This trend will continue unless the U.S. as a nation demands the implementation of fair, accurate, and more diverse cultural reporting by the U.S. media, as signed onto by all major media in the World Media Summit Declaration, Oct. 2009.Interestingly enough, a similar contrast can be observed in the history of East and West cultures. Traditionally, the Chinese agrarian society exhibited a tightly controlled family and imperial structure, with a stern head of the household and emperor. The order of the society was Confucian with strict moral discipline within. However, the Chinese empire was never very expansionistic and was satisfied with a tributary system, rather than imposing its values on its neighbors. On the other hand, Western power was typically expansionistic and colonized the conquered territories.

At the same time, Western culture traditionally valued democracy and practiced a loose family order. This is in keeping with American’s wish to police the world; yet the society within is very liberal. This cultural gap between East and West will take continuing dialogue to bridge and is the main reason for America’s critical view of China's domestic policy. The world order today is not very democratic internationally. A new world order is needed for our multilateral, multicultural world.With the current trend continuing, China will become more liberal and will improve its domestic openness, including the internet for domestic consumption. By all indications, China will grow more confident about her internal security as the government implements it’s “Concept of Scientific Development” and the country becomes more prosperous and its society more harmonious. This will take time. China will also remain internationally more outward-looking to learn from the outside than America is. For China, this is by necessity, as well as by national determination, for a long time to come.

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