The English-language version of the state newspaper Global Times raised eyebrows on Tuesday with an article headlined, "Evolution of Chinese intellectuals' thought over two decades." The opinion piece included a quote from an academic referencing the "June 4 incident"--a departure for domestic, state-run media, which never refer explicitly to the peaceful demonstrations that were crushed by government troops in 1989. The article was not carried in the Chinese version of Global Times. The publication, which launched the English version this year, is affiliated with the party stalwart People's Daily.
Even more surprising was the follow-up front page Global Times article on the "incident," which was published on the anniversary itself. Though analysts said censors were going to great lengths to interrupt, shred, or delete reports by overseas media outlets covering the anniversary, this home-grown coverage was apparently given the official green light.
Ground-breaking opinion journalism is published frequently in
Granted, it takes backbone to print the words "June 4" in a
political context in
But the key to the article's focus lies in its exceptionally
bland headline, "Prosperity tangible along
A valuable historic development opportunity? It's not how many independent observers have characterized the military slaughter of unarmed protesters.
Several journalists based in
"In order to claim some credibility with its target audience, the English-language Global Times has evidently made a conscious decision to run stories on topics that are taboo in the Chinese media, allowing some credulous foreigners to point to its stories and say, 'Wow, you see how liberal the official media is getting,'" Time journalist Simon Elegant wrote on the magazine's The China Blog on May 25.
The previous month, John Guise, in an article titled, "Global
Times: Not breaking new ground" published on the China Economic Review Web site, juxtaposed three taglines from
Chinese newspapers, "Publicize China, Report the World," "Connecting
China, Connecting the World" and "Discover China, Discover the World."
One is from state news agency Xinhua, one from the staid
Can't tell which is which? Neither can I.