In today's tour of state-sponsored media: Chinese media combat drug doping rumors, North Korea's Olympic coverage gets meta and Hong Kong parents have a bone to pick with Beijing. We begin in China.
If you have any interest in women's swimming, you know that China's 17-year-old Ye Shiwen is absolutely crushing it in London right now. Not only did she break the world record in the 400 meter individual medley, but she actually swam the last 50 meters faster than American phenom Ryan Lochte in his winning men's race. As The New York Times' Jere Longman pointed out on Monday, this has fueled speculation that Ye is a little too fast. "The response to unsurpassed achievement now falls somewhere uncomfortably between amazement and incredulity, that gray area between celebration and suspicion." Longman quotes other olympians calling Ye's finish "interesting" or "insane" and others noting that "The Chinese have had a history in the past of doping" despite no evidence that Ye was actually doping. Now, China's state-controlled media is here to denounce the speculation and ridicule suspicions as evidence of Western decline.
Both the Xinhua News Agency and the People's Daily accused "Western media" of fabricating stories. "By doing so, the Western writers have demonstrated an arrogance and prejudice against Chinese athletes that has ignited widespread criticism from all around the world," Xinhua said, in an editorial recommending that Western media acknowledge that China is a major economic and sports power. "It is irresponsible for the Western media to pour filth on Chinese athletes who won because of hard training and years of arduous preparation." The People's Daily, official newspaper of the ruling Communist Party, called it a campaign to discredit China's achievements, noting that "deeply rooted prejudices lead some Western media into blind ignorance." To be sure, American journalists would be pretty upset if they felt U.S. athletes were wrongly-accused of doping, though we'd hope there'd be less prone to blanket generalizations. Start naming names, China!
North Korea Puts Words in Our Mouth
North Korea's state-run media is pretty happy about the success of DPRK athletes on the international stage. So happy, in fact, it's got no problem taking a little creative license with how Western media is interpreting the games. Here's a precious passage found by Deadspin's Barry Petchesky in a Wednesday report by the Korean Central News Agency:
Athletes of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea have become a focus of world media for their good results in London Olympiad.
Reuters, BBC and other media of UK and media of China, Russia, the United States, Japan and other countries have introduced DPRK athletes' achievements in the Olympic Games.
Those media said that the secret of the DPRK athletes' victory is deep concern of leader Kim Jong Il and strength, courage and deep trust from the dear respected Kim Jong Un.
It's safe to say no one outside of Pyongyang has ever said that. Ever.
Hong Kong Parents Would Prefer Propaganda Not Be Read in Schools
Earlier this week, tens of thousands of Hong Kong parents protested a new curriculum for their students filled with pro-China propaganda, reports Reuters' Sisi Tang. The turnout wasn't too shabby according to photographs of the demonstration. (Organizers pegged the number of demonstrators at 90,000 while police estimates pegged them at 32,000.) Per Sisi:
The furore focuses on a Hong Kong government-funded 34-page book titled "The China Model" celebrating China's single party Communist state as a unique political system under which its economy and society have flourished.
The book will form the basis of a national education curriculum for students aged six years and older in Hong Kong schools in the coming year, aimed at engendering what officials call a sense of national pride and belonging towards China...
While the booklet touches on some negative aspects of contemporary Chinese history including unfair land grabs by corrupt officials and a toxic milk powder scandal, it makes no mention of the June 4, 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. It also describes the U.S. political system as having "created social turbulence" and harmed people's livelihoods.
The former British colony, which was returned to Chinese rule in 1997, is particularly sensitive to Beijing influence, and these parents aren't happy. "We don't want our child to be fed this material," said P.S. Ho. "If the initiative continues without changes, maybe we will change schools later or immigrate to another country."