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2013/03/03 / Horace

NOTICE

NOTICE:

This blog is NO LONGER ACTIVATE. I have purchased an independent domain and host to start my new blog.

For Chinese-reading viewers, you can visit: http://www.horacelu.com

For English-reading viewers, you can visit: en.horacelu.com

Regardless, I am always grateful for you guys viewing this site.

Yours very faithfully,

Horace

2012/06/28 / Horace

Zhuang Yuan(状元) taking over China in summer

As students get their results of the College Entrance Examination, also known as “Gao Kao”, a small group of students have now been under intense media spotlight.

Zhuangyuans (状元), students who score highest in Gao Kao in a  certain area, have become hot topic nationally.

There is not only one Zhuang Yuan in China, given that test papers in different areas vary. In a province, we have one provincial Zhuangyuan in humanities and science respectively. In cities and counties, we also have city and county Zhuangyuans in the same way.

These students who are lucky enough to become Zhuangyuans will be invited to appear on TV and newspaper, sometimes rewarded in various ways by their school and even be asked to appear on advertisements.

One of my friends didn’t become Zhuangyuan, but scored only next to the city Zhuangyuan and was admitted by Tsinghua University. He told me that he was also invited to appear in advertisements. “A teaching director telephoned me and told me that someone wanted me to make advertisements for a product,” he told me, “of course, I had to do the favor.”

Although he was not Zhuangyuan himself, along with the city Zhuangyuan, his photo appeared in thousands of outlets promoting a kind of product which claimed to help improve students’ academic performance. One of the posters was well-kept by a girl I knew. She sticked the advertisement on the wall and told her mother that it gave her enormous aspiration and encouragement.

That admirer of my friend ran away from home during odyssey to Zhuangyuan. Her dream destination was Hongkong Chinese University, somewhere only Zhuangyuan level students could go. “Perhaps she ran away because she couldn’t realize her dream,” mothers whose kids either were on the odyssey or had been but failed on the bid concluded.

Lin Haoran, a student in Sichuan, was mistaken  to be the Zhuangyuan of the province. Although the message was proven wrong in just a few hours, still he was bombarded by nearly 10 media organizations, with some even visiting his school at midnight. He told the state TV that he and his family “were greatly hurt by this incident.”

So, what if he were this year’s Zhuangyuan in Sichuan? How severe the media bombardment would be?

Guangdong, in order to prevent too many showcases of Zhuangyuan, has decided to make the top 10 students of the province confidential. Before this, several provinces have forbidden schools of staging showcases of Zhuangyuans and those who violated this regulation would be punished. Peking University and Tsinghua University, have announced they would never tell anyone what Zhuangyuan actually scored.

Nevertheless, “Zhuangyuan” is still hot.

You could see “Zhuangyuans’ Diet” “Zhuangyuans’ Life” “Zhuangyuans’ Exercise Books” on the Internet. On QQ.com, one of China’s biggest web portals, you can check the information of almost every Zhuangyuan in every province since the year 2004.

 

2012/06/16 / Horace

What Makes BBC World Service and World News a Success and What China Should Learn?

THIS IS ONLY A DRAFT VERSION, SO IGNORE THE GRAMMATICAL MISTAKES.

This is my academic year thesis, originally entitled as the follows:
ON THE SUCCESS, CHALLENGES AND COUNTERMEASURES OF THE NATIONAL IMAGE PROMOTION BY THE BRITISH BROADCASTING COOPERATION

On the Success, Challenges and Countermeasures Of the National Image Promotion By the British Broadcasting Cooperation

The British Broadcasting Cooperation is one of the biggest and trusted broadcasters in the world (“World’s Largest”). Apart from serving its domestic audience, the BBC also shoulders the responsibility to deliver news and information from London to the whole world. As a symbol of UK’s soft power, the BBC has been described by the Guardian as the “powerhouse” (Preston) of UK’s national image promotion. This thesis mainly discusses traits of BBC’s international broadcasting mode, the challenges the BBC is facing in national image promotion and measures the BBC has taken to counter such challenges. It will end with a discussion on what China, which is now active in promoting itself, can learn from the success of the BBC. It is important to note that although the BBC’s international broadcasting service mainly consists of BBC World Service radio, BBC World News TV and the BBC’s website BBC.co.uk, the BBC’s global reach involves both its world and domestic service and both its non-profit and commercial arms.

The BBC started its international broadcasting as early as in 1932 (“80 Years”). First called “BBC Empire Service” and with only programs in English, the BBC’s external service mainly targeted British colonies overseas. In 1938, the BBC launched its first foreign language service of BBC Arabic. As the Second World War progressed, the BBC launched many more language services and transmitted propaganda via short-wave radio. The BBC’s international radio service was called “BBC Overseas Service,” “External Services of the BBC” sequently and finally settled down to the name of “BBC World Service” in 1988.

The BBC World Service played a major role in the Second World War and the Cold War by transmitting propaganda and providing alternative news and information to hostile countries. In the 1991 coup, former Soviet President Gorbachev, who was detained by hardline conservatives, tuned to BBC Russian for news and endorsed it by saying “the BBC sounded the best.” (“Gorbachev listens”)

In 1991, the BBC launched its international news channel (Porter). BBC World News has become one of the world’s most important international news channels. In 1994, the BBC launched its website, which, according to Alexa, has now become one of the 50 most frequently visited websites in the world (“BBC.co.uk Site Info”).

It is not surprise that the BBC could make such a success. The BBC is the only public-funded broadcaster within the country. A combination of its domestic service and its external service means the BBC’s foreign audience and viewers can also enjoy the same high-quality programs that UK citizens can enjoy. The combination also means that fewer staff need to be hired because programs used within the UK can also be used outside, hence the BBC functions could more efficiently.

The BBC not only combines internal and external services but also radio and TV services, hence BBC staff are more “multimedia” than its international competitors. TV and radio footages can be shared among BBC staff, saving both time and money, and also amid the global decline of radio, journalists can shift more attention to TV and the Internet. A sharp contrast is Radio France International (RFI). With its audience dropping, the RFI has to merge with France24, France’s government-funded international TV news channel, which led to an ugly industrial operation, severely disrupting the scheduled broadcasting of the whole day (Sennit).

However, despite its prominence, the BBC is facing enormous challenges, not only from its international challengers but also within the UK itself.

The end of the Cold War greatly changed international broadcasting landscape. As authoritarian regimes in the Eastern Europe collapsed and China became more open to the world, a huge portion of people in need of international broadcasting, that is, those living in repressive environment desiring for alternative news and information in their own languages, have declined sharply in number. The BBC has cut its language services from over 70 to the current 27. Moreover, although the interconnection among countries still indicates a need for international news, people are getting bored with the old-fashioned and hackneyed Anglo-Saxon value and views.

Another external challenge the BBC is facing is a sprout of competitors. With the development of satellite transmission, the Internet and social network, information has been much cheaper to produce and spread. Some countries, especially those newly-emerging economies which have been lacking a say in the global politics arena, have been desperate in having an outlet to provide their own perspectives. Since 1995, international news has no longer been dominated by BBC World News and CNN International. Doha-based Al Jazeera Network, Paris-based France24, Tehran-based Press TV, Moscow-based Russia Today and Beijing’s CCTV-News have all posed huge threats on BBC’s international viewership and audience share. Al Jazeera, which was born to challenge the Western view on the Arab World and international affairs, has been endorsed by US State Secretary Hilary Clinton by saying, “Al-Jazeera has been the leader in that it is literally changing people’s minds and attitudes. And like it or hate it, it is really effective. In fact viewership of Al-Jazeera is going up in the United States because it’s real news.” (“Clinton: Al Jazeera”) Russia Today has covered 85 million people and has become a very popular foreign channel in American main cities (“Russia Today Most Popular”).

The BBC is not only facing challenges from the outside, but also a troubled UK itself. The United Kingdom is no longer the sole superpower with vast colonies, an overwhelming military power and a dominant economic output. On the contrary, it has become an ordinary developed Western European country which is now facing a double-dip recession (“UK economy”). The weak economy and state power first mean the UK has less power in influencing the world agenda. It is natural that people tune in channels of countries which are more important to them, and hence a less important UK means a less important BBC. The weak economy also means that the BBC will have difficulties in its funding. The UK government has required the BBC to freeze its license fee until 2016 (“TV license fee”). It means that the BBC may think twice before spending money on producing high-quality but expensive programs, which might be shared with its international services as well. Also, BBC World Service has experienced painful cuts in the funding from the UK Foreign Office as the coalition government conducted a comprehensive spending austerity (“Foreign Office ‘massive U-Turn’”). Only after the Arab Spring did the situation look up a little.

The world has changed dramatically, and the old international broadcasting giant is facing a difficult time with its home country’s global influence declining and its financial support decreasing. To rescue itself, the BBC has taken measures in two aspects, first making money and decreasing unnecessary or inefficient expenses, and second, trying to tailor its programming to profitable markets.

The BBC seems to have realized that it is no longer useful to preserve so many of its short-wave radio services. In January, 2011, the BBC further cut five language services and 7 short-wave radio services including BBC’s Mandarin radio service (“BBC World Service cut five”). It is a wise action, because short-wave radio can only transmit limited amount of information without multi-media contents and short-wave radio is quite expensive due to those relay stations required to achieve long-distance transimssion. Meanwhile, short-wave radio is no longer “useful” in many parts of the world. An increasing global literacy in English suggests that educated people can directly view the BBC’s English website and programs, and it is virtually the BBC’s most important goal to influence the educated since only these people are likely to influence politics and have more of a say. While its audience can switch to the Internet or TV or BBC World Service English, some language services have lived beyond their usefulness and should be cancelled.

Obviously, the BBC is working on its website and constructing its multi-media capability. The BBC’s prominence in online reporting can be seen clearly seen through its “live page.” Every time an international or UK breaking news happens, the BBC would immediately start a live page in which all news sources form a information stream to keep people updated about the event. Website visitors can watch BBC’s live news video, a live update feed of all major news organizations, comments from BBC journalists and experts, and a selection of e-mails and tweets from BBC audience and viewers. People not only can read, watch and listen but can also join a global discussion and debate using telephone, e-mail, Twitter and Facebook. The BBC has also been expanding on social network sites. Its Facebook page has over 1.9 million followers and draws heated discussion online all the time (“BBC World News”).

Although the BBC is a broadcaster mainly living on the license fee, it does have a commercial arm, BBC Worldwide. BBC Worldwide claims itself to be “a fast-growing media and entertainment company” with a mission to “maximise profits on behalf of the BBC by creating, acquiring, developing and exploiting media content and media brands around the world.” (“BBC Worldwide”) BBC Worldwide was founded in 1995 and since then it has been playing an important part in the BBC especially after the Cameron-Clegg administration took power. With a frozen license fee and the new fiscal burden of BBC World Service, BBC Worldwide is one of the most important revenue sources. The existence of BBC Worldwide is a one-stone-two-bird action. It not only alleviates the BBC’s fiscal difficulty but also promotes BBC’s documentaries, dramas, English learning materials and else to the rest of the world, further promoting UK’s national image and a UK perspective on the world. Taking China as an example, although BBC World News is not available in most Chinese families and the BBC’s Chinese website is banned in China, thanks to BBC Worldwide, many BBC’s documentaries, dramas and English learning materials (mainly about news) are still available both in stores and online. With BBC Worldwide’s products, BBC can still have an influence on Chinese audience despite all kinds of obstacles.

BBC Worldwide is not the only one-stone-two-bird measure. The BBC has recently shifted its attention to Asia, a continent with many newly-emerging markets including China, Japan and South Korea. The BBC launched a serial reports called “Power of Asia” to discuss the rise of Asian economy (“Power of Asia.”). In June 2012, BBC World News launched a weekday 4-hour live news program “Newsday” which is live both from London and Singapore (“BBC ‘Newsday’ launches tonight”). Such a program specially tailored for Asia is something that will please everyone. Given the rising Asian economy and an increasing number of people who can understand English, the BBC can draw more viewership and earn more money through its commercial BBC World News channel. Also due to the importance of Asia, it is attractive for the BBC’s global audience to know what is going on in Asia while knowing the world’s biggest stories at the same time. Finally, for the UK, an Asian-oriented program will help with UK”s national image building and deliver a UK perspective on international affairs.

Although the UK is diminishing globally, the UK is still one of the world’s major powers and the UK is also holding some events attracting global media spotlight, including the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and London Olympic Games. Some events, although not good, have also hit global headlines, like the UK Riot.

On positive events like the Olympic Games and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the BBC spares no effort in making special shows and giving a 360-degree coverage. Taking the Olympic Games as an example, the BBC launched a series of special programs. On BBC World News, it launched World Olympic Dreams (“World Olympic Dreams.”) with a series of news reports covering athletes from different countries preparing for the Olympic Games. On BBC World Service, it launched a serial documentary called “Great Expectations.” The program all the way through from March, 2010 until April, 2012, talking about how the UK prepares the upcoming Olympics and what kind of influence the event has on different social groups (“Great Expectations”).

More impressively, professionalism can also be seen in the BBC’s coverage on negative events. Shortly after the UK Riot broke out, a live page with videos, twitter feedbacks, analysis and latest updates were soon available online, delivering the first and the best hand of information. The BBC gave profound analysis on the root of the riot, not only citing domestic newspapers but also invited guests to share their own opinions. The BBC even interviewed a social worker who called rioters “the ignored underclass” who was not taken into consideration during policy making (Castella and McClathey).

The BBC’s stance on its own country is honest and frank, and its honesty and frankness are consistent and unwavering. It is wise for the BBC to do so, since it is impossible to censor anything in this information age. A deliberate media blackout or bias would only hurt the BBC’s own credibility. On the contrary, a comprehensive analysis and 360-degree coverage could make the BBC the most important source in looking at this event, thus improving its viewership loyalty and its credibility.

Although BBC World Service and BBC World News are international broadcasting channels, its audience/viewers inevitably put great emphasize on the BBC’s coverage on the UK’s domestic affairs. Its UK coverage is one of the elements that would distinguish the BBC from other international counterparts. High-quality and professional domestic reporting could also give people the impression that the BBC’s international news is also reliable. People have to be honest about themselves before they could be honest about others, and an international broadcaster should first be faithful and impartial in covering its own nation.

I want to note that national image promotion or soft power construction does not mean saying only good things or filtering the bad. It means reporting good news as well as bad news. A real effective national image promotion is to portray the country as it is to. Only a human-interest perspective, which requires 100% faithfulness and 0% censorship, can satisfy people and make people believe what a media organization reports is true.

The BBC is struggling to keep its fiscal balance in its international arms, cutting unnecessary expenses and raising profits, and it is seeking to strike a balance between its world news and UK news, its national image building and presenting a real UK. Nevertheless, it is still the most influential international broadcaster in the world.

China has shown its ambition in soft power construction. State TV’s international arm, CCTV-News has not only taken on a new look in its branding, but also launched its Africa and USA versions of programs. However, CCTV and all other national promotion agencies like China Radio International and China Daily are lagging far behind. In the final part of this essay, I will talk about what China’s national image promotion agencies should do, taking CCTV-News as an example.

CCTV-News should and must remove its censorship and try to depict a real China to the world. CCTV-News has failed to follow a series of domestic events which have international influence and attention. Liu Xiaobo, Wukan Uprising and Chen Guangcheng’s escape are just a few of the long list of events in which CCTV kept silent. Censorship and silence are extremely detrimental to CCTV-News. As mentioned before, it is natural for people to tune in a country’s international broadcaster if there is something important going on in the country. CCTV’s silence on those controversial events has made it lose many chances to grab viewership. A channel without many viewers, of course, is of little value.

As I have said, no one will believe his portrait of the world if he is not honest about himself. The task of CCTV-News is to bring a Chinese perspective to the world, however, with few believing in its coverage, such a Chinese perspective won’t be believed by anyone.

Censorship would only make CCTV-News look like a fool. It is always so embarrassing when other media organizations are analyzing China while Chinese own media organizations are silent. Think about what an embarrassment it is, when the Foreign Ministry denies the existence of “black jail”, Al Jazeera English exposed one right in the capital of Beijing (“China’s ‘black jails’”).

CCTV-News should present a real China. Propaganda is no longer allowed in modern media operation. CCTV-News should portray China as it is. It is no use merely introducing how beautiful China is or how fast it is developing. CCTV-News needs to talk about “the ignored underclass” just as the BBC does.

Also, CCTV-News should try to be fiscally efficient. The current expansion of CCTV-News is largely because of China’s rising fiscal revenue and state power. However, no country could be on such a fast track of development forever. So far, CCTV-News does not have a commercial promotion organization like BBC Worldwide.

Apart from censorship and profitability, CCTV-News is also lagging behind on the Internet. While BBC World News has a Facebook page of nearly 2 million “Likes”, the official page of CCTV-News has only around 3,000 “Likes.” (“CCTVcom”) BBC World News posts a wide range of topics, program forecasts and discussions on its Facebook pages, while CCTV-News only posts dry links. Also, the ID for CCTV-News “cctvcom” is so hard to find and remember. It is not a problem caused by time or money, it is a problem caused by attitude and mindset. Russia Today, a station founded in 2005, now has accumulated more than 500,000 “Likes” on its Facebook page (“RT”). Russia Today has also become one of the most popular media organizations on YouTube, with more than 700 million clicks on its global channel (“Russia Today”) and another nearly 400 million clicks on its US channel (“RT America”).

Internet and social network have become a main source of people getting news and information. More and more people are turning away from their television to their computers. Also, the Arab Spring has clearly demonstrated how fast and widely information can spread on social network sites like Facebook and Twitter. However, CCTV-News has lagged extremely far-behind on it. Its inability to promote itself on these new platforms determines its inability to promote itself to its international audience.

The BBC, with its combination of radio, TV and the Internet and the combination of domestic and international news, has been one of the most respected international news organizations in the world. Although faced with financial difficulty and UK’s state power decline, the BBC is seeking a way out by improving its fiscal efficiency, expanding its viewership and upholding its principle of professionalism. To become a real competitor that could match the BBC’s prominence, CCTV-News and any other national image promoters in China should portray a real China first, seek a way to make profits and then follow the trend of the Internet. Bearing so many tasks to go, Chinese national image promoters have a way, much longer than expected, to go.

Works Cited

“BBC.co.uk Site info – Alexa.” Alexa.com/SiteInfo. Alexa Internet, Inc. n.d. Web. 3. Jun. 2012.

“BBC ‘Newsday’ launches tonight.” TVNewsroom.co.uk. TV Newsroom. 12 Jun. 2012. Web. 7 Jun. 2012.

“BBC: World’s largest broadcaster & Most trusted media brand.” MediaNewsline.com. Login Media Publishing. 13 Aug. 2009. Web. 29. May 2012.

“BBC World Service: 80 years of international broadcasting.” BBC.co.uk/WorldService. British Broadcasting Cooperation. n.d. Web. 1. Jun. 2012.

“BBC World Service to cut five language services.” BBC.co.uk/News. British Broadcasting Cooperation. 26 Jan. 2011. Web. 7 Jun. 2012.

“BBC Worldwide.” BBCWorldwide.com. BBC Worldwide Ltd. n.d. Web. 7 Jun. 2012.

“BBC World News.” Facebook.com. Facebook. n.d. Web. 17 Jun. 2012.

Castella, Tom de, and McClatchey, Caroline. “UK riots: What turns people into looters?” BBC.co.uk/News. British Broadcasting Cooperation. 9 Aug. 2011. Web. 8 Jun. 2012.

“Clinton: Al-Jazeera is ‘Real News’; U.S. Outlets Not Very Informative.” NationalJournal.com. National Journal Group Inc. 4 Mar. 2011. Web. 3 Jun. 2012.

“CCTVcom.” Facebook.com. Facebook. n.d. 10 Jun. 2012.

“Foreign Office ‘massive U-turn’ gaffe on BBC World Service.” Channel4.com/News. Channel 4. 22 Jun. 2011. Web. 8 Jun. 2012.

“Gorbachev listens while being held captive.” BBC.co.uk/WorldService. British Broadcasting Cooperation. n.d. 24 Jan. 2007. Web. 1. May 2012.

“Great Expectations.” BBC.co.uk/WorldService. British Broadcasting Cooperation. 6 Mar. 2010. Web. 7 Jun. 2012.

Porter, Richard. “BBC World News: still going strong after two decades.” BroadcastNow.co.uk. Emap Ltd. 24 Mar. 2011. Web. 1. Jun. 2012.

“Power of Asia.” BBC.co.uk/News. British Broadcasting Company. n.d. Web. 7 Jun. 2012.

Preston, Peter. “How to save the BBC World Service – the UK’s soft powerhouse.” Guardian.co.uk/CommentIsFree. Guardian News and Media Limited. 17 Apr. 2011. Web. 31. May 2012.

“RT.” Facebook.com. Facebook. n.d. 10 Jun.2012.

“RT America.” Youtube.com. Youtube. n.d. 10 Jun. 2012.

“Russia Today.” Youtube.com. Youtube. n.d. 10 Jun. 2012

“Russia Today Most Popular Foreign News Channel in Key U.S. Cities.” TheMoscowTimes.com. The Moscow Times. 6 Jun. 2012. Web. 7 Jun. 2012.

Sennit, Andy. “Anti-merger strike at Radio France International.” Blog.RNW.nl/MediaNetwork. Radio Netherland Worldwide. 29 Nov. 2011. Web. 5 Jun. 2012.

“UK economy in double-dip recession.” BBC.co.uk/News. British Broadcasting Cooperation. 25 Apr. 2012. Web. 7 Jun. 2012.

“World Olympic Dreams.” BBC.co.uk/Sport. British Broadcasting Cooperation. n.d. Web. 7 Jun. 2012.

2012/06/12 / Horace

China, G20 Summit and Eurozone Crisis

I did some research for the impact of the Eurozone crisis on China. And I summed it up in a brief report. I didn’t polish it so I apologize beforehand for the grammatical mistakes here.

Before the upcoming G20 Summit, despite its reluctance on talking about Syria, China has shown great interest in discussing Eurozone crisis.

China’s Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao endorsed the recent 100bln Euro bailout to rescue Spain’s faltering banking sector as a beneficial effort “on short term risk controls” but calls for a more “decisive consensus and take more decisive actions to safeguard long-term stability in the region.”

Hardly Hit

China and the Eurozone economy are closely inter-connected. Europe has become China’s largest export market, accounting for 22% of China’s total export volume, and Euro accounts for 27% of China’s total foreign exchange reserve. The current Eurozone crisis has not only made China’s 10% goal in export increase this year difficult with export to Europe sliding for consecutive 4 months until May, but also made it difficult for China’s foreign exchange reserve to hold its value.

Both Zhou Xiaochuan, head of China’s central bank and Premiere Wen Jiabao has vowed to keep on buying in Euro assets, but meanwhile, China is busy planning its Plan B for the potential deterioration.  Sources have pointed out that Chinese government has ordered ministries of finance and commerce to examine the potential impact of Grexit and possible strategies to encounter it.

Yu Yongding, president of the China Society of World Economics and Director of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of World Economics and Politics, has called for a “Greece-proofing China.”

Won’t be active

China has said it “would not be absent” from the plans to enhance the IMF’s funds, however, China does not seem to be too active for fear of over-stretching itself.

“The question is can the G20 do anything to accelerate and bring forward the date at which China feels it should do something? I’m skeptical,” Tim Condon, chief economist and head of Asian economic research at ING in Singapore, told Reuters.

China is not likely to throw another huge stimulus package like the 4 trillion yuan stimulus plan carried out in 2008, despite its export and total economic growth slow-down.

Chance?

Despite all that has been said, the Eurozone crisis may not be all that bad. It offers China, which has accumulated huge capitals after 30 years of development, a good chance to invest in Europe.

China’s investment in Europe has more than doubled in the past year and is estimated to reach 2 trillion USD by the year 2020.

A Capital says in a report that investment in Europe could help Chinese enterprises improve its profitability and enter the upper sector of the value chain.

Long Guoqiang of the Development Research Centre of the State Council, says the Eurozone crisis could be a very good chance for China to acquire international-acknowledged brands and good sales distribution channels. “We have two measures in brand building. One is to cultivate your own brand with efforts, but it consumes a lot of money, time and efforts. It is not easy. The other important method is to acquire existing international brands through mergers.”


2012/05/03 / Horace

DiaoSi (屌丝), am I one of them?

I was very much surprised when I realized that my fate as a Diaosi (屌丝) is impending.

DiaoSi refers to extremely ordinary men who are depicted as vertically challenged, ugly and poor, in contrast with those successful men who are tall, handsome and rich.

Now, it seems that netizens can also use DiaoSi to refer to those extremely ordinary women in contrast with successful ladies who are rich, white and beautiful.

I didn’t realize that I may also end up as a DiaoSi, although I am studying at quite a prestigious university and am quite academically successful, until I was talking with a friend.

He is someone I really adore. He is talented, lovely and acquires good knowledge of English, broadcasting and journalism. He is exactly someone that I have been wanting to be.

During the casual conversation, he told me that he hadn’t been making enough money and was desperate in having some extra income.

We did a calculation. It would take him at least 10 years to purchase a two-bedroom house if he spent all his salaries on housing.

He is an outstanding gentleman. However, being a newsman, respected as it is, is not very much well paid.

“We are DiaoSi.” I sighed.

“No, we are not,” he refuted, saying the criteria in judging a DiaoSi is not only money.

Maybe he is right.

He has been dreaming of getting himself a PS3 and a laptop computer, however, since his house rent takes up as much as 50% of his income and he has to save money in case of emergencies, he has to think twice, a 3rd time, a 4th, 5th and now, he hasn’t been bold enough to buy himself one.

He told me that there are many colleagues in his media organization who have everything. These are all from rich families.

It makes me think of my rich classmates, who are now applying for US graduate schools regardless whether they will get scholarship or not, or who can change their cellphones once a year from N97 to HTC to iPhone 3GS to iPhone 4, who can stay in the UK as an exchange student and snap a photo before the Bush House, although the house rent is as much as 100 pounds per week, i.e, almost my whole month’s living expenses.

Compared to them, I look shabby. My Motorola was paid by my payment during the winter vacation, and I am now saving for my next year’s tuition.

A lot of opportunities are also slipping away. The Bush House, to which I have been dreaming of a visit, is no longer the headquarter of the BBC World Service. Also, I may have to work for a few years before I could go to the UK for a graduate degree.

I am not short. I am 6 feet 3 inches tall (around 191 cm)

“You have been much better than others,” one of my friends consoled me when I was complaining.

However, what I clearly feel is that I am still falling behind despite some progress made.

That is what DiaoSi is all about. When everyone is running ahead, you are staying behind, powerless and unwillingly.

2012/04/27 / Horace

重庆:永远都不能同时出现的两面

薄熙来事件在过去的几周来都一直是世界媒体的热点,从王立军,到薄熙来,到谷开来,到海伍德再到薄瓜瓜,这场政治大戏似乎没有落幕的意思。

国际媒体一直在注意着中国政治高层之间的角逐,背后的黑幕以及未来的应对,但是,大家却多多少少地忽略了作为这场政治漩涡的中心的重庆人和中国人是怎么想的。

民众的声音并没有被完全忽略。至少,在中国官方媒体上,我们曾经看到过“XX各界坚决拥护党中央决定”,在重庆卫视上,一名妇女对着镜头说,因为看到不论一个人的官位有多大只要违法乱纪都会受到惩罚,所以感受到了社会公平。

“社会公平”,这似乎是薄熙来主政时“重庆模式”的一个一直在推崇的内容。薄熙来尽管受到人们的争议,但是也的确打掉了很多黑恶势力,改善了地区治安,建立了公租房。最拉风的,还属一次重庆出动特警为农民工讨薪。

在自由派看来,薄熙来的这些政策都是“民粹”的。作为一个小自由派,我也认为这些做法似乎有些“民粹”,但我也必须要承认这些措施也顺应了“民意”,相对于很多在书斋里指指点点的“公知”来说,薄熙来做了很多实事。看外媒的报道,薄熙来在重庆实际上仍然拥有很深厚的民众支持,就是证明。

只不过,这些民众的支持,现在都已经看不到了。一点也看不到。

我过去尽管不喜欢唱红歌,尽管不喜欢红色卫视,但也的确支持过薄熙来。后来看到了很多报道,得知重庆的发展是基于大量的债务和薄个人的政治野心之上的,是不可持续的。然而,在王立军没有闯入美领馆之前,却没有任何人告诉我们此事,没有人告诉我们重庆欠了多少钱,没有人告诉我们薄熙来转移了多少资产,没有人告诉我们重庆这么走下去是死胡同。

姜维平曾经在香港报刊上发表过揭露薄熙来的文章,结果被逮捕,软禁。

现在这些到处都是的关于重庆模式的批评,当时可一点也看不到。一点也看不到。

重庆模式是两面的,一方面它的的确确不可持续,另一方面,它之所以名噪一时,是因为中国民众期望一个可以带来好的社会服务和社会公平的人出现。在过去,我们看到了后者,看不到前者;而现在,我们看到了前者,却又无法看到后者。

薄熙来,好似一条做好了的盘子中的鱼,我们先看到一面,然后又看到另一面,但似乎藉由中国大陆的媒体,我们永远不能两面都看到。

“曾担任4年重庆市委书记的薄熙来名声扫地,可是他在当地仍然大受好评,然而并不是每个人对他的离任都感到惋惜。嘉陵江和长江汇合的重庆笼罩在雾色中,这个大约有3千万人口,一度沉寂的内陆港口城市,近几十年来突飞猛进,一跃跻身于世界大都会行列。”这是美国之音的近期报道中的一段话,我把它复制粘贴到我的微博上,因为我想,在我们知道重庆模式不好的一面的时候,也不要把另外的曾经让人感到振奋的一面给忘记得太干净。

结果,没多久,就收到系统通知,说,我的这条微博不适合对外公开。

无论如何,这段话永远都存在的。

就像重庆模式的另一面,也永远都存在着。

 

2012/04/27 / Horace

Bo Xilai: One side first, then the other, but never two sides together

Bo Xilai has been in the centre of China’s biggest political scandal ever for quite some time, and media outside China has been focused on the internal conflict among Chinese political elites, Bo’s wife and son Bo Guagua and Gu Kailai and the mysterious death of Neil Heywood.

However, media of democratic countries have somehow lost a very important criteria of judging an official: whether his people loves him or not. Bloggers are never the “people.” Usually writing uncensored blog posts requires good knowledge on using proxy, which most Chinese do not have.

Meanwhile, on China’s state media, news has been flooded by local party officials endorsing the Central Committee’s decision as “correct and timely” and urging everyone to “determinedly support the Central Committee’s decision.”

Well, that does not mean we don’t have any voice from the people. On Chongqing News, a government tightly controlled local news programme, Chongqing locals, confidently and sternly, appreciate Bo’s removal, with one lady even saying “it makes us feel social equality.”

“Social equality” is what Chongqing Model, which Bo Xilai has been advocating through his reign, is about. Bo did carry out some spectacular moves to achieve so.

He cracked down local mafia, removed corrupted officials and did improve local safety and stability. (It is controversial since Bo has also been reported to confiscate assets of private enterprises in the name of cracking down on mafia, but who knows whether these private enterprises are connected with mafia?) He initiated cheap housing projects, and even once Chongqing police dispatched SWAT to help immigrant workers get back their wages which were maliciously delayed by their employers.

For quite sometime, liberal as I am, I have been an active supporter of Chongqing. I didn’t like Chongqing TV flooded with Maoist ideals, I didn ‘t like Bo’s movement of singing red revolutionary songs, but I did think he was addressing something China is lacking – equality and justice.

Liberals in China are almost nothing but those sitting in their studies and criticizing China’s authoritarian system but never spending a minute on ordinary people’s problems like inflation, housing, wages and else. While Bo’s administration could dispatch SWAT to help immigrant workers get their payment. Bo’s move was of course populist, but was also popular and deserved such popularity.

And that was what we used to hear on Chinese media. Suspicious as some liberals are, Chinese media is generally positive about Bo’s governance in the city. And a positive attitude is so among many Chongqing residents. He is still welcome and sympathized, according to Voice of America.

But now, this part of the story is gone. On Chinese media, nothing endorsing Bo can be found now. Nothing.

We have learnt that Bo’s Chongqing Model was based on high debt, unsustainable and was just to satisfy his desire to become a member of the Standing Committee of Poliburo. Bo is also reported to have transferred huge quantities of assets abroad and involved in an air tragedy which killed over 100 people.

This side of the story has been heard enough now. It is what we have been hearing these days, but when Bo had not fallen, could you find such things on Chinese media? Nothing.

Jiang Weiping, a journalist who exposed Bo’s corruption on Hong Kong media, was sentenced to 5 years in jail and spent another 3 years under house arrest.

First, we could only hear everything positive and nothing negative, and now, we could only hear everything negative and nothing positive. First one side, and then the other side, but the two sides have never appeared together.

“This inland port city of around 30 million population, which was silence, has made swift leaps in recent dozens of years and become one of the world’s metropolis.(这个大约有3千万人口,一度沉寂的内陆港口城市,近几十年来突飞猛进,一跃跻身于世界大都会行列)”

I copied these lines from the Chinese website of Voice of America and tweeted them on my Weibo. I believe these sentence shall also be remembered as clearly as Bo’s sin and crime. Then a few minutes later, I received a message from Sina Weibo admin that my tweet had been hidden and no longer available to others.

Remember: I was simply posting what was once said thousands of times before the fall of Bo Xilai and my tweet was an endorsement of Chongqing.

Chongqing is always there with its two sides. One side, or the other, but two sides are never allowed to appear together.