Letter from China: Beijing’s growing urge to dominate the media – Howard W. French

From the New York Times, via Howard French’s Glimpse of the World blog:

The question seemed innocuous enough when it appeared in an online poll this month on the popular Chinese Internet portal Netease: Would you like to be Chinese in the next life?

It is the answer that proved dangerous. Sixty-four percent of respondents replied no, with some of them commenting that to be Chinese lacked dignity.

Many foreign readers of such news might have felt a sense of surprise by the results. After all, why would such a clear majority of respondents prefer not to be citizens of a country that has progressed so dramatically on so many levels in the last generation? Moreover, with signs of prosperity springing up everywhere, what would motivate a large number of the participants to invoke a lack of dignity in their lives?

The Chinese government supplied the beginnings of an answer in the days that followed the poll. The editor of Netease was removed from his job, effectively banned from meaningful work for having conveyed opinions deemed contrary to the official view. [Full text]

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