David Bandurski: As China Shouts its Line on Tibet, Is Anybody Listening?

For the China Media Project, David Bandurski looks at coverage of Tibet in the , starting from a recent headline carried by all the major official media in recent days: “Treasuring the fruits of democratic reform: celebrating the 50th anniversary of the liberation of millions of Tibetan serfs.” Bandurski writes:

…When we sat down yesterday to sort through a cross-section of Chinese coverage of Tibet in the last few months, it was eye-opening to realize just how much there was. There have been 3,087 articles with the keyword “Tibet” in Chinese newspapers this month according to our database, and 817 of these have had “Tibet” in the headline.

These numbers actually pale in comparison to coverage in March and April last year, when Chinese media heaped scorn on the “Dalai clique” and the “hostile foreign forces” sowing unrest in China after large-scale riots in the region. But last month, even as the CCP was gearing up for the sensitive anniversary of the 1959 uprising, there were half as many articles with “Tibet” in the headline as there have been so far this month — with days yet to go until the 28th, which the CCP has designated “Tibetan Serf Emancipation Day”.

This spring surge in Chinese coverage of Tibet is entirely understandable given the historical significance of this month and what are clearly ongoing political sensitivities in the region.

What struck me, however, as I read through People’s Daily coverage of Tibet yesterday — my database print-out gave me a 183-page tome of coverage in this official paper alone going back to March 1 — was just how insulated and pointless China’s attempt to push its own message seems to have been so far.



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