Netizen Voices: Foreign Journalists in Ningbo

Most Chinese media kept silent on protests in the coastal city of Ningbo, where a planned expansion of a petrochemical plant processing paraxylene (PX) is now postponed. Except for a trickle of coverage from official news agencies, most have depended on Weibo and online forums to stay informed. Foreign journalists have become heroes, not only by covering the protests but for subduing the police by their sheer presence; one protester warned “after you leave, they will start beating people up.”

Angus Walker, the China correspondent for British ITV, has especially stood out. His on-the-spot tweets (@anguswalkeritv) were translated by netizens and posted to major Chinese social networking sites and forums. An ITV cameraman at the scene with Walker was hoisted up by protesters so he could film over the crowds. Netizens are now saying that “Western” journalists (洋记者) have shown themselves to be “family” to the Chinese people.

Below are a selection of translated comments from Weibo, followed by photos from the scene of the protests. More comments are available from CDT Chinese.

Brenden: According to what’s being said online, when foreign media appeared at the scene, people applauded continuously. Many people wept. The foreign reporters also greeted the crowd with palm over fist and wept. How sad this is! What gives the people of Ningbo hope is not the government, not the police, nor the media, environmental protection slogans, or the national anthem, but Western reporters…

玩客老孙:据网传:当外媒出现时,现场掌声雷动经久不息,很多人落下眼泪,外媒记者也抱拳流泪了。多么悲哀!能够让宁波人民看到希望的,不是政府,不是警察,不是媒体,不是环保口号,也不是国歌,是洋记者。。

SongWaimai: EssayistWangShengqiang: Such a huge event happened in Ningbo, but not a single domestic media group was there to report on it. A foreign media company went there and was welcomed by the people like family. The crowd was blocking the cameraman’s view, so the crowd spontaneously lifted him up. This reminds me that when the Eight-Nation Alliance attacked the imperial city, the people of Beijing held ladders for the troops. “If a country doesn’t recognize its people, then the people won’t recognize country.”

宋歪麦:杂文作家王圣强: 宁波出那么大的事,国内媒体没一家到场进行报道,一家国外媒体去了,老百姓激动的当作亲人一样迎接,拍摄时人群阻挡视觉,群众自发的把外国记者高举起来。 此情此景,让我想起了八国联军攻打北京皇城时,老百姓自发去帮着扶梯子这件事。 “国不知有民,民亦不知有国”,此之谓也

HeGuangwei: Seeing the people of Ningbo clustered around those foreign reporters to protect them, I feel sick to my stomach. China is just arriving at the peak of its news production, but there are too many news-killers. Nowadays in China, there are people in the media, but no media. Media people are working in chains. This is the sorrow of the Chinese people.

何光伟:看到宁波人民簇拥保护外国记者,俺心里很不是滋味。中国正值盛产新闻高峰期,但新闻杀手太多。当今中国只有媒体人,没有媒体。媒体人都是戴着枷锁干活,这是国人的悲哀。

ZhanJiang: Actually, it’s okay that CCTV put great effort into covering the hurricane in the U.S. We should salute those field reporters. But the point is, you can’t report freely overseas yet act the other way in China. It’s just like what netizens wrote two years ago when the new CCTV building was on fire: “CCTV is emotionally stable and continues to cover the forest fire in Australia.”

展江:央视大力报道美国风灾,其实没有问题,还应该慰问一下现场记者。问题在于你不能在国外自由报道,在国内另有一套,就像两年前央视新楼大火时网民所写到的:“央视情绪稳定,继续报道澳大利亚森林大火。”

Livinggame: A foreign reporter named Angus Walker has earned his fame. He rushed to the front line to report. Countless Ningbo people have remembered him. He is their savior. The special police and the armed police were terrified and withdrew at his presence, protecting a huge crowd.

五一在伏羲庙对视:一个叫Angus Walker的外国记者出名了,冲在了报道的最前线,无数的宁波人民记住了他,他是宁波人民的救星,他所到之处,特警武警无不闻风丧胆,纷纷后撤,掩护了大批的群众。

ZhaoManqiu: The cruelest words of the 21st century: After you leave, they will start beating people up.

江水一翁:二十一世纪最残酷的一句话:你们走了他们就要打人了

Protesters hoist up an ITV cameraman.

Protesters follow the cameraman.

Angus Walker and ITV cameraman.


A plainclothes officer confiscates a foreign journalist’s equipment on October 29.

Netizens are engaged in a “human flesh search” for the officer, who grabbed the reporter by his backpack.

A journalist is pulled away by plainclothes officers.

The spot where the journalist pictured above was grabbed. His equipment was left at the scene.

Via CDT Chinese. Translation by Mengyu Dong.

Notes:

(1) Palm over fist: A traditional gesture of greeting and respect. Back.

(2) Netizens reported that the Ningbo Public Security Bureau Deputy Director shouted at protesters, “Anyone who sings the national anthem will be arrested.” Back.