This morning, Global Times launched its English edition to a lack of fanfare. And lack of fanfare pretty much sums up the new newspaper.
The venture was originally marketed as a new international mouthpiece for the Chinese media. Unfortunately, readers who expected a hard-line alternative to China Daily are going to be sorrily disappointed. Gone are the angry and rash editorials of the Chinese edition (which would have at least brought a chuckle during the morning commute); in their place is the same bland middle-of-the-roadism China Daily is known for.
Now, that may be because the editorial section of the Global Times website is full of Xinhua editorials (it’s not clear if editorials by Times writers will becoming later), or it could be that the hard-line stance of the Chinese edition was felt to do more harm than good in convincing international audiences of Beijing’s point of view.
There are some longer pieces that from their titles suggest longer in-depth analysis, but in reality only scratch the surface. “The True Picture of China’s Catholics” briefly compares China’s underground Catholic churches with the Beijing-backed Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, and goes little further than a vague warning that members of the underground churches may come under the influence of forces “hostile to China.”
A piece on “human-flesh search engines,” the real-life searches by internet vigilantes for people viewed as having committed injustices, is three pages long, and makes sure to emphasize how the technique operates in a gray area that Beijing disapproves of.
Perhaps we got our hopes up too much. Global Times is state-run media, after all. Its job is to purvey Beijing’s view on the issues of the day to the world, and it is going to do so in a way that is acceptable to the government. Beijing wants to play it safe, and we can therefore count on Global Times to be as exciting and ground-breaking as, well, China Daily.
Readers with any remaining hopes that the Global Times could represent a vital new voice in English-language media in China should simply compare the slogans of the websites of the following English-language media outlets:
Xinhua: “Publicize China, Report the World”
China Daily: “Connecting China, Connecting the World”
Global Times: “Discover China, Discover the World”
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