In the past 24 hours, Frankenstorm Sandy has taken up much of the news space in the US. At the other end of the Pacific Ocean, there is another country that has been paying no less attention than the US to Sandy. And that county is China with its China Central Television. After being overwhelmed by CCTV’s coverage on Sandy, Chinese netizens called it “the conscience of the US” – that is the polite way of saying it. The impolite way is “CCTV is a stooge of the US.”
CCTV journalist reporting from NYC
On Sina Weibo, China’s No. 1 microblogging service, many major news accounts have been continuously featuring news on Sandy and how hard New York City has been hit since yesterday, so much so that one’d think Sandy was really hitting Beijing. For example, CCTV 13, the news channel, said they sent several groups of journalists to report Sandy live. At some point, netizens started to question why the Chinese media have put so much effort in a disaster in a remote country as if there isn’t anything important to cover domestically.
总裁聚焦 asked: “The Ningbo protest is known all around the world and yet CCTV turned a blind eye to it. At the same time, CCTV seems to know very well about every disaster in the US. The conclusion is that CCTV serves the US. It’s a stooge of the US.” Why so? Netizen fen1234 gave a few explanations: “Journalists from China’s CCTV went so far away from home and risked their lives in order to report a hurricane in the US live. Why? Netizens provide a few guesses. 1. It’s because of the spirit of internationalism. 2. They have high journalistic pursuits. 3. They have too much budget this year. 4. They have nothing else to do. 5. They want to tell the Chinese people that the Americans are living in hell. 6. The news are for government officials because their wives (second wives, too) and kids are all in the US.”
The above two Weibo posts each attacked more than 20k reposts and several thousands of comments. What do the other netizens think? 大大丝丝 had it summarized “To report a disaster in the US is much safer than reporting certain domestic news.”
Of course, there are netizens who think CCTV isn’t doing a smart thing. In July this year, a record rain caused flush floods across Beijing and cost 77 lives. Like netizen –晟龍– commented: “Why I feel CCTV is rejoicing over other people’s calamity? It simply won’t stop reporting US disasters. Image this hurricane was in Beijing, we won’t look any better. Everybody still remembers the rain that turned Beijing into sea.”
Once again, Chinese netizens showcased how the truth in China may sound like jokes. It’s unlikely that CCTV’s focus on Sandy was out of the needs of government officials whose families are living in the US (Wait…it’s actually very likely). But “naked officials“, officials who sent their wives, mistresses and kids aboard, have been such a big problem that Beijing has released several regulations this year to prevent the increase in “naked officials.” The speculation that CCTV did so to distract people’s attention from domestic issues isn’t totally groundless, either. After all, the last thing that the Chinese government wants its people to talk about before a once-a-decade power handover is a mass protest in a major Southern city and a huge amount of family wealth of its Premier.