October 7, 2008

Beijing’s Propaganda Extravaganza

By Jasper, William F

Perhaps, amidst the non-stop glowing reportage on China's 17 days of Olympic glory, you happened to catch (buried in back section of the newspaper - or some equally remote web posting) a story about Wu Dianyuan and Wang Xiuying. The two frail, old widows in their late 70s were arrested and face possible prison time in China's notorious penal system. Their crime? Applying for a legal permit to protest peacefully in the officially designated protest area near the Olympic Village. Like hundreds of thousands of other Beijing residents, their homes were seized and bulldozed to make way for Olympic venues. They have been trying for years to get compensation. Theirs is one of many stories showing the real face of the "New China" that has been obscured by the fluff and party-line propaganda that was peddled as news and informed commentary during the Olympic Games. Yes, the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics - like the opening ceremony - was an eye-popping, whiz-bang, extravaganza of music, dance, video, gymnastics and pyrotechnics. It was a fitting cap to a three-week triumph of (almost) flawlessly choreographed communist propaganda.

The entire presentation of the Beijing Olympics, as well as control over the news coverage, was the bailiwick of the Propaganda Department of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee of the People's Republic of China. "Propaganda Department"? No, that's not my name for it; that's the ChiCom's own official moniker for their equivalent of Joseph Goebbels' Propaganda Ministry. see for yourself at the PRC's Propaganda Department website, which you can translate into English using free translation software such as Babblefish.com. The website is: http://cpc.people.com.cn/GB/64114/75332/.

The Beijing regime vastly outdid Goebbels and Hitler, who similarly used the 1936 Nazi Olympics to showcase "the New Germany." But then, you can buy a whole lotta bling and bang for $44 billion, the low-side estimate of the PRC's outlay for the Games. Which makes China's gold-medal haul undoubtedly the most expensive gold ever mined.

"The Beijing Olympic Games is a testimony of the fact that the world has rested its trust upon China," declared Liu Qi, president of the Beijing Organizing Committee, in his speech at the closing ceremony. To the degree that the world has indeed "rested its trust upon China," we can give thanks to the likes of Henry Kissinger & Associates, NBC, and public relations behemoth Hill & Knowlton, who take home, respectively, the gold, silver, and bronze medals for collaboration.

Kissinger, who has been the ChiCom's best asset since the days of Chairman Mao, accompanied President Bush to the Beijing Games and strategically placed the manager of his Kissinger & Associates Beijing operations, Joshua Cooper Ramo, as NBC's "China expert" for the Games. Together with Hill & Knowlton, they helped the PRC's Propaganda Department make sure that when the world wasn't being legitimately dazzled by the genuine achievements of Michael Phelps, Usain "Lightning" Bolt, or Nastia Liukin, they were being stupefied by flashy spectacles, choreographed travelogues, and gushing commentary on the wonders of today's China.

"We will give the media complete freedom to report when they come to China," Wang Wei, secretary general of the Beijing Olympic bidding committee, promised in 2001. However, as the Games were getting underway, the Foreign Correspondents Club of China (FCCC) reported that it had "logged more than 300 cases of reporting interference since 1 January 2007." According to the FCCC, this "includes violence, destruction of journalistic materials, detention, harassment of sources and staff, interception of communications, denial of access to public areas,... being followed, etc." British journalist John Ray, a correspondent for ITN, says he was "bundled away, pushed to the floor and pinned down" before being "manhandled into the back of a police van," merely for trying to film a brief pro-Tibet demonstration (the 10 peaceful demonstrators were all arrested). USA Today 's correspondent Janet Lloyd returned to her hotel room to find a Chinese intelligence agent rifling through her papers. Canadian journalist Jeff Lee awoke in his hotel suite to find three Chinese operatives going through his things.

However, most of the time, the Propaganda Department didn't have to rely on the strong arm or heavy hand. Most of the 30,000 journalists and the "news" organizations they represent were more than content to follow the party line. Obligingly, they filed few stories on the ongoing genocide in Tibet, confiscation of Bibles of visitors, the Tiananmen Square Massacre, China's forced abortion program, religious persecution, organ "harvesting" from prisoners, China's backing of genocide in Darfur, the PRC's alarming military buildup, Internet surveillance and censorship, etc.

Now you know the reason for the smile on the visage of Chairman Mao, which NBC displayed along with the corporate peacock logo in its daily broadcasts from Beijing.

Copyright The New American Sep 15, 2008

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