Agam's Gecko
Friday, February 15, 2008

hat a surprise: The New York Times Parrots Communist Party Line.
The theater was packed, the crowd gave a standing ovation, and audience members raved in interviews after the show. But according to a story in The New York Times last week, as many as "hundreds" were flocking to the exit doors by intermission...

What made the Times article even more unusual was that its criticisms mimic the line of China's communist regime, which has engaged in a behind-the-scenes campaign to have Splendor shut down.
The Times panned the Chinese New Year Splendor show at the city's Radio City Music Hall, backed by quotes from three audience members (two of them apparently on condition of anonymity), concluding that some find it hard to watch. Those "some" certainly include officials and agents of the Chinese Communist Party, which has tried to discredit the show at every available opportunity -- including Chinese consular letters pressuring US politicians not to attend. Such pressure has been applied in other countries as well, sometimes successfully.

As a document obtained last year, originating from China's "State Administration of Radio, Film and Television" made clear, this is a longstanding policy of the CCP.
"The leadership of the central government has ordered that they [the NTDTV shows] be destroyed by any and all means," said the document, which was dated Dec. 16, 2003, when NTDTV was preparing its first Chinese New Year show.

If that was not possible, orders were to "minimize their impact," the document said.
Displays of true Chinese culture, free of restrictions imposed by Party control-freaks, are not countenanced in the halls of power in Beijing. If the dramatic content contains references to human rights, well, that's not cool in the top floors of the New York Times either, it seems.

And thus the New York Times -- which like other foreign media, is heavily controlled and censored within China -- has become a hit among Party cadres. The negative theatre review was enthusiastically republished by Xinhua, the Party's official mouthpiece, and widely propagated in other state controlled Chinese media.

The sold out shows and reportedly frequent standing ovations were not mentioned in the Times review, and neither has the paper seen fit to publish a letter of clarification from the president of the production company.
"Human rights abuses are indeed a part of the culture modern Chinese have inherited, regardless of whether or not one agrees with the medium through which it was expressed. Whether we like it or not, these abuses are part of today's reality in China.

"One of the basic freedoms central to the United States is freedom of expression. Mr. Konigsberg should not find it so shocking that a Chinese culture show produced in the U.S. includes some reference to China's human rights issues."
The great unmentionable, at least in some circles these days.

But let's keep things in persepective. New York Times. Soviet Union. Pulitzer Prize. Walter Duranty. Heh.

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