It’s too late for freedom of the press in China...revised


(I've added a paragraph at the end. This has some relevance to the newest SARS outbreak, and why the WEST is questioning why it took so long to get the news out....again)

It’s too late for freedom of the press in China.
Quite often I think to myself, the best, most efficient way for China to reform itself is simply to give the papers free reign.  Shame and the constant revelation of law breaking activity would quickly act as an incentive towards reining in a freewheeling society such as this. 
However, as the Cultural Revolution was quite often nothing more than an opportunity for ordinary folk to “get even” and settle long held grudges, with trumped up charges and accusations, one suspects the same would happen with freedom of the press as well.
One is reminded again that China doesn’t have the Western ethic to“forgive and forget”.   Nope, this place remembers perceived slights forever.
Anything that creates chaos in Chinese society is bad for China.  The sudden ability of reporters to call officials onto the carpet would anger a whole class of individuals that for decades have been above the law.  Indeed, didn’t this class feel until recently it could even murder without retaliation?
If one wants to wonder what would happen in China if freedom of the press was taken seriously, one needs only look to Russia as a model.   The first instinct in China would be to bribe the reporters.  This might actually work.  But you can’t bribe everybody. But China is a seething society beneath the surface.  There are simply too many grudges held, not just farmer to farmer, but official to official, to contain.
You think Xi Jinping wasn’t more than happy to kick Bo Xilai into the ditch?
My guess is that the papers would care less about how Farmer Wang injected his watermelons with a toxic sweetener, and more about how Official Wang could buy 16 houses when the ordinary person is only allowed two?   They would want to publish what sells.  
 If true freedom of the press existed, the untouchables within Chinese society wouldn’t stand for such a thing.  These people are used to doing and saying whatever they want, without retribution. To suddenly not be able to control how they are looked upon and perceived would invite retribution upon a massive scale.   In Russia, investigative reporters have a short life span. 
In China, such spontaneous revelations of official misdeeds would put immediate pressure on the police and court system to respond.   Would they?  Could they? My guess is the courts would be overwhelmed with such a public airing of the laundry.  And when they don’t address these publicly revealed misdeeds fast enough, than what? 
Than you have street demonstrations, full of shopkeeper Wangs, in every city, large and small.
Than a lot of little Tiananmens, in every city.
China is simply too angry a country.   That’s what happens when you have a society so massively inequitable as China.  The Chinese people aren’t stupid.  They know that there are two sets of rules in their country.   Two ways of getting things done.   They understand things are stacked against them.  It would take a generation to air grievances, and that’s a generation of violence, and like I said in an earlier post, China doesn’t have TIME.

Additional thoughts:
I think I can clarify even more so.  America had a lot of the same problems that China has today, 100 years ago.  Widespread corruption in the food industry, an economy dominated by a few, and an even worse disparity between the rich and the poor.  Yet the USA was able to slowly put a dent in these problems by the consistent exposure of how these issues weakened the social fabric.  That was via the well established freedom of the press.  China faces the same issues today, but without that well established, and therefore unrespected medium.  This in my view is the main reason why China cannot reform internally, quickly enough, like the USA did. 
Too many Chinese today would view the exposure of all these issues that threaten the very fabric of the society today as politically driven, or as exposure by someone with an agenda.   This is the consequence of a society with no democratic tradition.
Muckrackers 100 years ago won journalistic praise, and their works brought about change.  Muckrackers in China today are arrested and beat up.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The hidden cost to marrying a Chinese girl

KFC in China and who the Hell is Chick fil A?

Logic of the Chinese "gold digger"