I’ve seen numerous broadcasts of news programs on CCTV (the Chinese State-controlled TV channel) via satellite transmission. Even without the benefit of English translation, it is obvious that many of the “news” shows are little more than propaganda–pieces deployed to boost the credibility of the Communist Party.
For example, one recurring feature involves a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader giving a speech. The camera frequently cuts to a captivated audience, fervently writing down the speaker’s “brilliant insights”. (Apparently the text of the speech isn’t distributed.) The piece generally climaxes with a pan shot of the audience’s mandatory standing ovation at the end of the speech. Just as such propaganda devices have begun to lose their impact on Chinese viewers (who rightfully have come to see them as staged events with ersatz audiences), along comes a bunch of ‘capitalists’ to save the day. The Fortune Global Forum, arranged by Fortune Magazine, convened in Shanghai last week providing the CCP exactly the kind of propaganda opportunity it loves. The Forum brought together more than 300 heads of multinational companies, plus more than 200 Chinese government leaders and heads of major Chinese enterprises.
In return for kowtowing to Jiang Zemin and helping the CCP celebrate 50-years of oppressing the Chinese people, company heads were given a chance to invest yet more money in China and make connections with the CCP bureaucrats who will determine their business success or failure. The Forum provided CCTV with the opportunity to portray the CCP’s interpretation of history: China was a backward nation before the Communist Party took control and “liberated” the Chinese people (gloriously advancing the country ever since). According to the CCP, before the Communists liberated Shanghai, foreign businessmen treated the Chinese people like they were not human. Today, CCTV cameras show how CCP head Jiang Zemin has turned the tables, keeping foreign billionaires at his heel, licking his boots, and taking his orders. And boot-lick they did.
Viacom’s chairman lectured attendees that journalistic integrity must be exercised in a way not “unnecessarily offensive to the countries in which you operate.” Time-Warner’s chairman made sure the latest issues of Time Magazine were confiscated (lest someone be “offended”), then introduced the head of the CCP as “my good friend” Jiang Zemin.
AIG’s chairman Maurice Greenburg touted the party line that “The leadership’s first priority is to feed and shelter 1.2 billion people” (implying that prioritizing individual rights would somehow be detrimental to Chinese nutrition).
Ted Turner then won the contest for servility [and stupidity] by announcing himself a “socialist at heart”.
And of course, everyone applauded Jiang Zemin’s lecture, which included a reminder that China wouldn’t rule out using military force against Taiwan. The event was topped off with Arthur Anderson setting off a bunch of rockets in a symbolic fireworks display.
What a revolting performance.
The businessmen who helped China publicly celebrate 50 years of Communism are a disgrace. The Fortune Forum was carefully manipulated to maximize its propaganda value within China. These businessmen provided the CCP with a public moral sanction, a seal of approval to be televised to the Chinese people. Has everyone forgotten that the CCP has oppressed and impoverished the Chinese people? That tens of millions were systematically starved to death during the CCP’s worst days?
The reality is that the CCP still views China’s citizens not as sovereign individuals with rights, but as dispensable servants of the state. The growth of the Chinese economy during the past 20 years is testament to the perseverance of the Chinese people in spite of the CCP.
In recent years, the only possible positive the CCP has done is to partially remove some of the obstacles they created for the economy in the first place. In my mind, a man unjustly imprisoned for 50 years should not have to thank his jailers for being allowed into a work-parole program. And it goes without saying that billionaires shouldn’t be making deals and posing for pictures with the prison leader.