A major backlash is underway among Chinese furious at how its government has handled the case of Chen Guangcheng, the blind human rights activist who escaped his remote compound and sought refuge at the American Embassy in Beijing.
According to David Bandurski’s China Media Project, yesterday saw “feverish conversation” on social media sites about government editorials criticising the U.S. for providing aid to Chen. Bandurski said many Chinese found the editorials “embarrassing and exasperating.”
The government tried to respond by blocking access to posts critical of the op-eds, but according to Bandurski:
“The move to arrest conversation of the Beijing editorials could point to what might be characterised as one of the most high-profile failures of Party propaganda we have on record, particularly as it happened in the midst of important U.S.-China meetings.”
Astonishingly, one of the news organisations that carried a government editorial, the Beijing News — which holds “a proud though brief tradition of professional journalism,” per Bandurski — posted a haunting blog note expressing contrition for doing so:
Photo: Sina Weibo
It included a famous Bruce Davidson photo of an embittered clown dragging on a cigarette, with the following verse:
“In the still of the deep night, removing that mask of insincerity, we say to our true selves, “I am sorry.” Goodnight.”
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