Wednesday, October 25, 2006

tvnewswatch - Return from China

China's news media can often leave one in the dark
Three weeks in China has sadly left tvnewswatch offline with only one post made since the end of September. That post was made using the previously set up e-mail to blog facility. does not work in China, and of course news is also difficult to get, unless staying at a western hotel. A western newspaper was impossible to obtain. China Daily, one of few English language newspapers, was not available outside big cities. In top hotels CNN and BBC World was available. Of course such hotels are well out of reach of the average Chinese citizen. A monthly salary of a Chinese citizen in a good job might just cover two nights at the Beijing International, Sheraton or Hilton hotels. The internet was the only reliable source of news outside China, though many sites were blocked. These included the BBC [though paradoxically a previously saved link in Real Player™ did open BBC World Service, BBC London and BBC 5 Live], Wikipedia and Blogger. Connections, where available, were however generally slow. All this left tvnewswatch in the dark as to furore over the veil, which dominated the British press for days after Jack Straw’s comments. The continuing violence in Iraq was rarely seen on China’s news media. CCTV-9, never the best for news, concentrated more on China’s economic development. It is the economic development that strikes the outsider on their first visit to this vast country. Construction of new buildings, factories and roads is widespread. The number of 4x4 vehicles and modern cars would probably surprise many westerners. But of little surprise was the increased pollution. Even over the smaller towns, smog, made up of traffic fumes mixed with the output of local factories and power stations, hung in the air. Beijing has a reputation for having high pollution levels, and, for the few days tvnewswatch was there, the visibility was little more than 2 or 3 city blocks. A taxi driver’s insistence that it was low cloud was not at all convincing. The North Korean nuclear test did hit the headlines in China. A BBC World Service report did help fill in the gaps of information gleaned from the Chinese media. By chance tvnewswatch had internet access at the time of this Breaking story and was able to report from China, besides restrictions on the website. As described above this was achieved by the post by e-mail facility, but it has to be set up ahead of time. Several days later CNN were reporting that radiation had been detected near to the test site, thus confirming the test was real and not as some had speculated, a bluff.
North Korea's nuclear test on the 9th October created consternation around the world since it was announced by the North Korean government. China unusually backed resolutions set by the UN which imposed sanctions on the country. There has been, however, criticism by some countries that the blockade was not being enforced strongly enough by Chinese authorities. Talks initiated by China with the North Korean regime have failed to bring any positive results. But besides the rhetoric coming from the US government over the past year with regards their promised serious consequences if the country should obtain nuclear weapons. Another country in Washington’s sights is Iran. Today, the Iranian government announced the opening of a new enrichment plant. The Iranian government continue to insist their nuclear industry is merely to generate electricity, something strongly disputed by western governments.
But there still remains the unfinished missions of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. The US President George W Bush said today he was still optimistic for the future besides airing his concerns. "I know many are not satisfied with the situation in Iraq , I'm not satisfied with the situation either" he said today. The violence has gone from bad to worse throughout the month of October and it has been the deadliest month for US troops since October 2005. Ninety one have died and more than 150 have been injured in the last 25 days. Hundreds of Iraqis have died in the same period. And with worsening violence coming from both Sunni and Shi'ite militants, the opinion polls are showing a strong disapproval rating for both Bush and the Republican party. But besides the criticism and increasing death tolls George W Bush was still upbeat. "I know the American people support the war as long as it's a path to victory". He asserted his resolve to stay the course saying, "You can't leave until the job is done". The war continues too in Afghanistan with heavy fighting reported in recent days west of Kandahar. There are 21,000 US troops and 20,000 UN troops in the country continuing to battle the Taleban which has strengthened in the last few months. A total of 11 coalition troops have died so far this month in Afghanistan including 4 US troops.
The veil debate was in full swing as tvnewswatch returned to London. Unaware that such a debate was even brewing, an interesting situation occurred at Heathrow as a fully veiled woman passed through passport control unhindered and without unveiling to the female official. Whatever one’s personal views, there certainly appeared to be an issue of security. It was a surprise to find this was the subject of a tabloid frenzy when confronted with the media from the past 20 days. Posted by Picasa

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