Thursday, April 19, 2007

China - 'under attack' by western media

Channel Four's Lindsey Hilsum is often highly critical of China

One doesn’t have to look far to find news items critical of China. Whether it’s human rights, displacement of residents in order to make way for new factories and office blocks or the state of the environment, China is the subject of continual criticism in the media. Today is of no exception. Sky News might be thought of as having a ‘vendetta agenda’, as almost weekly they highlight negative issues of this large emerging economy. With a special report from Russia, Sky News reported on the illegal hunting of tigers for their supposed medicinal properties. The report said that although hunting was illegal, “one doesn’t have to look far to find products made from tigers”. In David Bowden’s report he said, “The Siberian - or Amur - tiger is the biggest of all the big cats and lives exclusively in the vast forests of the Russian far east. But poaching and traditional Chinese medicine are threatening to wipe them out.” Recently a BBC report highlighted the breeding of tigers in order to make tiger bone wine.
Manufacturing in China also comes under fire. The BBC highlighted a ban on a number of Chinese made toys and other products cited as being dangerous. And the newspaper USA Today reported that China was to blame for a “tainted ingredient” that had been added to pet food. The tainted food had killed some animals and hospitalised others throughout the US last month.
The environmental impact of China’s industry is never too far from the news. On Monday the BBC reported how much of the Yangtse river was “irreversibly polluted”, whilst a critical report on Channel 4 News told how China was destroying valuable rain forests in the country. Lindsey Hilsum said, “China is trading in timber that has been logged in parts of south east Asia and Africa where timber laws are lax.” And that this timber could be “exported under the label 'Made in China' - so no-one need ever know the timber came from Indonesia. And no Chinese law would be broken.” Just today on BBC LDN, a report told listeners how there was a shortage of fence panels and partly blamed the shortage on increased exports to China. Speaking to the Norwich Evening News, Paul Masterman, who works for timber merchants A&W Cushion Ltd, in Barn Road, Norwich, said “That [the January storms] were a big problem for the fencing industry, but it wasn't the only problem. Demand in Europe has also been forced up by China and Russia.”
It is of course true that China faces many challenges in solving many problems, both in regards to its environment and the effect that the new economic boom is having upon its people. However the constant criticism without constructive support, advice and encouragement, will do little to curb these practices. Indeed Chinese authorities may become increasingly defensive, rather than acknowledge the deepening problems. There exists in China, a strong patriotic spirit and a sense of pride. No-one, least of all an entire country, likes to be criticized. And western media in particular needs to balance the criticism with some of the positive efforts China is making in tackling some of the problems highlighted in the news [Chinadialogue].

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