Plus ça change…

Thursday was the twentieth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. I found it interesting to see how the news media described it. To the CBC it’s the Tiananmen Square protest. To CTV News it’s a massacre or a military crackdown, depending on the article. CNN calls it a bloody crackdown. Curious. The CBC is usually so far to the left that I can’t imagine they’d miss the opportunity to comment on the event with a descriptive label.

Don’t bother searching for any news about the anniversary in Chinese news however. I tried looking at China Daily and the only thing I found was an article called “China slams Clinton’s June 4 comments.” This was a direct response to Hillary Clinton’s message to China regarding the massacre/protest/crack down. According to The Guardian,

She urged the regime to “examine openly the darker events of its past and provide a public accounting of those killed, detained or missing, both to learn and to heal.”

And you did read my attribution correctly. I had to go to another source to learn what Clinton said. The China Daily published an article on the Chinese government’s response to Clinton, but didn’t see fit to inform readers of this small detail. No quotes, no paraphrasing, and not even a general description. The Chinese government must defend itself, but no one will know what against.

This is what China calls freedom of the press. A month before the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu issued a press release in response to a criticism of China’s lack of a free press by US President Obama:

Q: on May 1, US President Obama reportedly made a statement marking “World Press Freedom Day”, criticizing China for harassing and jailing journalists. Do you have any comment?

A: The Chinese Government protects its citizens’ freedom of speech, and gives full play to the scrutiny role of the press and the public. Since the adoption of the reform and opening-up policy, China’s press undertaking has flourished with growing number of professionals. Chinese journalists enjoy adequate freedom to report. Their rights and interests are protected by law. Meanwhile, everyone is equal before the law and no one is allowed to break the law with any excuse.

We urge the US side to respect the facts, have a correct view of press freedom in China, respect China’s judiciary sovereignty and stop pointing fingers at China’s press freedom.

So there you go. Adequate freedom to report. Presumably, the limits of what’s adequate are at the whim of the government, likely on a case-by-case basis.

…plus c’est la même chose.

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