Made in China


Kevin Doonan

Turning on the news these days, it seems as though the only nations in the world are China, Israel, Palestine, and Syria. The fighting in the Middle East is at the heart of the media’s interest in the Outremer, which makes sense to me. What has really struck me as odd is the pervasive interest in China. For sometime now I have notice big stories about China are published daily, seemingly more so than for any other nation besides those situated in the Middle East. None of the stories about China have been even remotely positive in tone, either. The subject matter has ranged from: the increasing self-immolation of Tibetan laypeople in protest of Chinese oppression; to arresting a blind activist’s nephew in retaliation for the activist’s move to the U.S.; or even the recent maritime territorial dispute about China’s claim of sovereignty over virtually the entire South China Sea, despite claims from numerous other nations otherwise.

It’s hard to even keep track of all the negative stories perforating the news about China, along with the surprising variety of their unhappy content. It even seems as though the nation is collectively being blamed for things like international poaching, as Chinese high demand for endangered animal parts has been cited as the leading cause for such incident as the slaughter of elephants in Africa.

Such an outpouring of unfavorable media attention though makes me skeptical. Is China really all that bad, or is the nation purposefully getting a bad rap from the media? Maybe it’s just the conspiratorial side of me, but I find it peculiar when so much is being said in the same vein about a single subject by so many different people. I find if hard to believe that not one person, in a nation of billions, is doing anything nice to warrant international note.

One example of seemingly benign coverage which I find subtle transmits a negative message about China as a whole, surrounds Friday’s death sentence of Li Hao. A Chinese citizen, Li Hao held captive some six women for an estimated 21 months, prostituting them, videotaping them, raping them, and all sorts of nasty other things in his homemade dungeon. Though Li Hao is of course an irreparable villain, in few separate stories I read, all of the authors made sure to depict Chinese officials in an unfavorable light. From different tellings of the story, the Chinese police all ways come across as absurdly incompetent, have only discovering the dungeon after one of the prisoners escaped, even though; women were going missing; the dungeon was in an urban area; Li Hao’s clients were coming and going; he was posting videos online of some of the things he was going to the women; and the dungeon was in operation for almost two years. The real kicker of the story though was that a Chinese court had convicted three of the women to go to prison after they had just spent almost two years in captivity being brutalized and subjected to some of the worset forms of torture imaginable. During their captivity Li Hao had forced and coerced the three women to kill two of the other prisoners. Now of course this is horrible, but it seems like the human thing to do would have been to consider the special circumstances under which the killings were committed. Such lack of compassion seems to only add to the appearance of a China’s officials as coldhearted and compassionless. Sending the women to jail, after all they have suffered through, hardly seems like a fitting punishment to me.

Stories like this one are the only thing I hear of being reported on about China. I never hear any stories about Chinese humanitarian efforts and I wonder if this is because of a negative stigma in western media, or if there really just isn’t anything nice going in one of the world’s largest countries.