• Wed
  • Sep 24, 2014
  • Updated: 3:19am
City Beat
PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 June, 2014, 5:06am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 June, 2014, 5:06am

Another rabid editorial - but is it really from Beijing?

When CY dismissed a Global Times column, it showed just how little influence the paper has

If Hongkongers had ever taken seriously comments on the city in the fiercely nationalistic state-run Global Times newspaper - assuming they represent the views of Beijing's policymakers - now is the time to think twice before reading too much into them.

It seems Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying thinks so, at any rate. Last week he voiced his disagreement with a strongly worded editorial in the newspaper, which dismissed Occupy Central's so-called referendum on electoral reform options for the 2017 chief executive poll as an "illegal farce". The editorial declared that no matter how high the turnout rate, it was "no match" for the mainland population of 1.3 billion.

By the time the poll ended last night, 787,767 people had voted, organisers said.

Leung told reporters last Tuesday it was wrong to "put the people of Hong Kong and mainland China on confronting sides". He added that those who had voted merely wanted to express their hope for universal suffrage in 2017 - a hope shared by him and the governments of Hong Kong and Beijing.

But the pan-democrats were unimpressed, saying it was just Leung trying to defuse the situation ahead of tomorrow's pro-democracy march.

A government source, however, said Leung felt compelled to speak out because he thought the editorial was wrong, since Hongkongers are part of the 1.3 billion Chinese population, and because of simmering tensions between the city and the mainland.

But if Leung was trying to ease the situation, it may have backfired. While the Global Times declined to comment on Leung's remarks, internet users on the mainland were more vociferous, with some attacking the chief executive for trying to please only Hongkongers.

And many in Hong Kong wondered why Leung had made the rare move, questioning whether perhaps the newspaper was not so "official" after all.

After the Leung remarks, Professor Joseph Man Chan, of Chinese University's School of Journalism and Communication, shed some light on how the newspaper fits within the mainland media landscape. He told an RTHK show that although the Global Times is part of the People's Daily Group, financially it is not an official mouthpiece. While the People's Daily receives state funding and is seen as a must-subscribe for all key government agencies, the Global Times relies heavily on its own advertising and circulation revenue.

This puts it a rung below the People's Daily and other high-level government mouthpieces, such as the Xinhua News Agency, in terms of its "official" status.

Then there's the leftist editor-in-chief of the Global Times, Hu Xijin - a controversial figure known for his bellicose approach and seen in Western media as the man behind "China's Fox News". His rabid editorials, Hu says, are all designed to draw readers from the conventional state-run newspapers.

And he's got Hong Kong in his sights. On a visit to the city a few months ago, Hu told local media of his plan to expand the newspaper to Hong Kong in the run-up to 2017. Protesters disrupted his speech at Chinese University, during which he admitted that the People's Daily Group, which appointed him to the job, could exert influence on him, but claimed the newspaper was market-oriented.

Under Hu's direction, the newspaper's provocative style will continue - whether it represents any official message from Beijing or not, and whether the chief executive of Hong Kong disagrees or not. But one thing is for sure: extreme views from either side aren't the answer for the city's political reform.

tammy.tam@scmp.com

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blue
It's really hard to take a trash paper like global times seriously. Also that Global Times editorial was an incoherent mess that didn't make sense. In other words, it's like something pslhk would write.
ianhuayensee
When I stay in four or five star Chinese-linked or run hotels in China, invariably I get Global Times or China Daily delivered to my room. Guess what I do with them? I hardly ever read them and invariably the final destination is the bin. On the few occasions that i read them, I found them so wanting of editorial quality and independence that I felt like vomiting. So much for the value I attach to Chinese newspapers.
sipsip1238
I thought the Global Times is available in English. And how do you know he/she is not competent?
And 100% of the times the editorial stances can be predicted for Global Times, particularly when it relates to China.
I guess you're one of those who believes that China "defeated" the British during 1997.
So if you don't want to read newspapers, don't read it, the newspaper doesn't care and neither do we.
blue
Care to tell me what cliches I said? I'm against public nomination. I even accept that China is a unitary state and thus Hong Kong's powers are derived under the authorization from the Central Government. But so what? The UK is a unitary state too, and it had no problems implementing universal suffrage in colonies like the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands.

The UK also didn't need to release a white paper to its colonies explaining its theoretical ability to take away the autonomy they authorized to the colonial government. The BVI has a high degree of autonomy both in theory and in practice. The white paper just shows how insecure the CCP is. It's pathetic.
Marcus T Anthony
Global Times may be neo-conservative rubbish, but the comparison with Fox News has one obvious dissimilarity. Fox News is anti-government, while Global Times is pro-government and implicitly approved by Beijing. Given that Beijing regularly censors news and media, if it found The GT to be unacceptable it would do something, no? And there are strong similarities with some of its child-like, hysterical rantings and those of official Beijing pronouncements - e.g. the "hostile foreign forces" stuff regularly trotted out by officials commenting on HK. The Wu Mao - who must be told what to write by some puppet master somewhere - also speak a kind of emotionally and intellectually stunted language, like primates grunting in the jungle as they fight for alpha-male status. Certainly the frontal lobes appear to be disengaged, with neural processing moving straight to the limbic system and amygdala. Of course the latter is merely an hypothesis and requires further empirical testing before a fully developed theory of arrested cognitive development can be posited.
sipsip1238
So what Professor Joseph Man Chan is pretty much saying is Global Times is pretty much a barking dog without teeth that continues to sniff the bottoms of the PRC in the hope that they may one day get the iron dogbowl treatment.
shouken
You know what ianhuayensee, I seriously doubt you possess enough linguistic competence in Chinese to even read an elementary-school textbook. Don't pose as if you can read editorials in Chinese.
----As for western newspapers, although they may retain a facade of independence, more than 95% of their editorial stances can be predicted, particularly when it relates to China. I kind of sympathise with some of my friends who choose not to read any newspaper, from anywhere.
sjfore
Perfectly reasonable observations.
One small correction: Fox News is "anti-government" when the Democratic Party is in the White House, and rabidly pro-government when the Republicans are in charge.
Normal people call it Faux News.
chaz_hen
But he would disparage it because it's written in that archaic language he detests so much: English.
 
 
 
 
 

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