[chinese blood, irish heart] - DEFUNCT: Patriotism?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


There's been a lot of anti-China sentiment recently. Conversely, it's instigated a sort of anti-West (plus BBC, CNN etc.) sentiment too. On the topic of the Olympics and the mini protests that came with it, many local Chinese I've talked with or listened to frequently express their disgust at Western media reporting as well as contempt for the American and European governments. I got a big earful of this from my father's cousin during a family outing. Though I wasn't discussing it with him directly, I couldn't help but feel his thoughts had been overpowered by his sense of nationalism. At first I was scoffed at his attitude, even more so perhaps because he was a Hongkonger... yes, I still like to maintain the difference between Hongkonger and mainlander. Eventually I decided not to offer any rebuttal since it was a family day out. The Chinese certainly have a right to feel proud of the mainland hosting the Games.

Many people I encountered make it seem as if the West and the media is deliberately out to cause trouble and claim China's bad press is fabricated. So I was pleased to hear when a guest on CCTV's Dialouge proclaimed that 'China is not a perfect country'. Others should learn to be humble and acknowledge the problems of one's country, whether it's hosting the Olympics or not. But the air of egoism is so thick right now I can cut it with a knife. Some other cynics I've talked to say the Tibetan riots were overblown by those in the West who want to instigate unrest and give China a bad image. Not entirely an unplausible idea mind you.
On the other side, many so-called pro-Tibetans or anti-China forces say the mainland is crushing human rights and censoring the truth. Again, not unplausible either. Fact of the matter is, and from what I've learned over the years in the media, news events like these can never be reported or revealed in its truest form. Many factors determine this such as censorship and self-censorship, laziness, bias, apathy, deadlines, editorial principles, political motives and money. I'm not condoning the old saying: 'don't believe what they say on the news', but certainly don't let it cloud your judgement.

That's why I never form my own opinions on these big issues anymore. When people ask me about global issues I always abstain. But I always make it clear why I don't have a definitive opinion by levelling both sides of the argument. This thinking is mostly why I've turned down or stayed away from standard reporting jobs. I feel the best way to tell an honest story is to do in-depth feature-length programmes. This is my lofty goal. Now all I've got to do is find good socially aware stories!