Posted by: Shaun | April 4, 2008

New China protests; the birth of the anti-CNN

New Protest in GarzeReports have emerged of new, violent protests by Tibetans in the city of Garze, part of China’s Sichuan Province. Given the lack of media access and the vaunted “reliability” of government information, details are still sketchy at the moment. Tibetan exile groups claim that People’s Armed Police units shot and killed eight protesters, while Xinhua, the Chinese state news service, says simply that the rioters were restrained after “warning shots” were fired. Given that the Rashomon effect may be in play here, I’ll hold off on calling it one way or another…

The discrepancy is likely to stir up more angry voices on the net as a number of Chinese “netizens” have taken umbrage at what they see as biased Western reporting on the Tibetan protests. In fact, one group of disgruntled viewers has created its own website, anti-cnn.com, which seeks to go beard to beard with Blitzer or any other journalist that distorts the truth as they see it. The site does seem to have caught quite a few examples of sloppy editing, especially where images of protests at the Chinese embassy in Nepal were displayed next to headlines about China (then again, pictures from Tibet are hard to come by…maybe the news organizations didn’t have anything else to show).

Having some years of experience as a consumer of the very media these individuals are critiquing, I can say with confidence that they’ve probably caught some legitimate screw ups, distortions, and examples of good, old-fashioned ignorance born of two decades worth of foreign bureau budget cuts at the major papers and networks. Still, most coverage I read and watched made no secret of the fact that protesters were hurling rocks and burning stores. Within the constraints of covering a story as inaccessible as the riots were, I think I got pretty good picture of what was going on. Now, if they expect the New York Times to run a front page story explaining that the Dalai Lama has never done a good deed in his life and is clearly responsible for all of the Spring time risings in China’s west, they have another thing coming…

Map source: BBC Asia
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