Be prepared for the 'rehash'

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I have now begun the process of mentally preparing myself for the onslaught of "new" China stories hitting the international media. As a trained journalist and former journalism instructor, I have always expounded the need for news to be new. But unfortunately, I suspect this is going to be less and less likely the case as the Olympics draw ever closer. As the foreign media steadily work their way over here to begin their coverage of the Olympics, and China, I can guarantee that we are going to be hearing, reading and seeing the same stories repeated over and over again. A case in point is the recent 'revelation' from AFPTV.

Chinese village goes back to complete Communism

NANJIE, China, January 10 (AFPTV) - Huang Zunxian's living room is lit by just one dim lightbulb. It's dark...but not gloomy. His faith in the Communist Party is his guiding light.
"As common people we only have one thing to do," says 72 year old Nanjie Village Resident Huang Zunxian, "Listen to the Party leadership, and do whatever they say. To stay healthy and contribute more to Nanjie Village, thats what we think."
The people of Nanjie Village in China's Central Province of Henan are living history, a throw back to 1960s China. They have rejected the market reforms that have swept the country and returned to a collective economy.
Residents here say they have no desire for the luxury products the rest of China is flocking to buy. There are few people in the streets, most are at work in the village-owned factories. There products range from instant noodles to consumer packaging, and the profits sustain the local economy. Instead of a salary, workers receive free housing and food, health care and education.
Wang Hongbin has been the Communist Party Secretary in Nanjie for more than 30 years. As the senior most official , he oversees the running of the village. The sign hanging over his desk is an old Chairman Mao quote, and reads "Serve the People."
"Nanjie village has developed a collective economy," says Hongbin, "To walk down the path of gaining wealth. This was Mao Zedong's thought, strategy and policy."
There is no advertising in Nanjie, but Communist propaganda is plastered on buildings, and blasted over the airways. Nanjie also has a multi-million-dollar park dedicated to showcasing the life of Mao. In it are replicas of various houses where he once lived.
Mao's prominence here, and the fact that people are still living out his ideologies, have turned Nanjie into a tourist attraction. Soveigner shops are capitalising on the steady flow of curious visitors. No one in Nanjie is opposed to bringing in money; they've just opted to share it equally.
"All the tourists are jealous," whispers shop owner Wang Xinchao, "We live by Mao's philosophy."
The village's 3,500 commune members are proud to still be living according to Mao's word. But they are a tiny holdout, as the rest of China's 1.3 billion people rush towards capitalism.

I'm not for a moment saying that the story about Nanjie isn't at all interesting. But the fact is, this is not a new story. Anthony Kuhn, an excellent journalist with NPR here in China, did the same story in August of 2006. And a google search of Nanjie+China will get you even more stories about this Maoist throwback.

I believe a lot of the expectation from the expats in China is that we're going to be getting a lot of crack journalism and enthrauling new stories about China that we've never heard before because the western media horde is on its way to help educate us. Unfortunately, I fear that what I like to term as "pack mentality" is going to kick in, and we are going to be left hearing a lot about the Nanjie's of China, and not nearly enough about what is actually happening in this country. And I suspect this is exactly what the CPC is banking on.


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JFK Miller said:

V interesting post. On a related side note, the recycling of news which is several days old seems to have also happened with the recent maglev protests in Shanghai. Reuters broke the story on Jan 12 and then it has filtered down through the international media ever since. London's Times and The Washington Post reported it almost a fortnight later on January 25 and 26 respectively. The IHT was a little more on the ball on Jan 21, while the NYT (Howard French) has only now got around to it. The London Times report by Jane Macartney was particularly lazy, quoting the same fellow in the Reuters report (Arthur Kroeber of research firm Dragonomics) without attributing the quote to Reuters.

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This page contains a single entry by Paul published on January 21, 2008 4:48 PM.

China must come to terms with Olympic criticism, because it's going to get worse was the previous entry in this blog.

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