On Monday (11 April), Rebecca MacKinnon, Global Voices Online co-founder and former CNN journalist, was interviewed by core members of Anti-CNN website.
This is a significant event as the Anti-CNN website was launched to counter the western media's (represented by CNN) reports on the Tibetan unrest and crackdown in May last year. As it has been pointed out by Rebecca during the interview that many people regard Anti-CNN a community of 50 cent for spreading Chinese government's propaganda. This interview can give people a glimpse of this community of patriotic young people.
The conversation was mainly about western media “impartial” and “bias” report on news related with China, including Tibet issue, Olympic torch relay protest. Rebecca has written a detailed summary in Rconversation. She expects to see more interaction between the Anti-CNN community with the outside world:
My purpose in doing this interview was primarily to understand the Anti-CNN community better as part of my book research. Communities of enthusiastic, patriotic young people like the Anti-CNN volunteers are part and parcel of the phenomenon I call cyber-tarianism.
It will be very interesting to see how the Anti-CNN website continues to evolve. Rao Jin (founder of the website) has plans to develop an English-language platform – with a less provocative, more friendly name – through which his community can engage in dialogue and debate with the English-speaking world. I think it's great that they're looking to expand their dialogue and engage with the world. It's important that the outside world understand that China's patriotic youth, like young Republicans or young Tories, feel that they are acting on their own belief systems and get angry when characterized as brainwashed puppets. It will be fascinating to see how the outside world reacts to these efforts, and how the Anti-CNN website administrators handle conversations that foreigners want to have with them involving events, people, or points of view that Chinese websites are generally required to censor in order to avoid being shut down.
In the Anti-CNN website, the organizer has transcribed in brief the conversation in the forum and here is a selection of carry on discussion:
Moreover, western ideas of independent thought, freedom of speech and rational thinking that differentiate means and ends are implicit in her answer. These are something we missed in our culture. This kind of conversation is very meaningful and concrete, a lot more fruitful than 100 items in CCTV news broadcast.
However, there is nothing new in her answer. Westerners share similar view on China, we have to solve our own developmental problem and should not care too much on others’ opinion.
My feeling is that the main audience of CNN's cropped photo and carefully processed news are Mainland Chinese, westerners are onlookers. Some with good intention may read it with sympathy, some with vice intention may take advantage of it.
In reality, there is more and more communication between China and the West. In some aspects, China is being self-defensive. However, China will gain more confidence when it continues to develop and there will be less and less double standard judgment towards China. We can embrace the world then.
Hu Yong writes a blog post commenting on the difficulty in this communication:
This is an extremely difficult communication. I have to express my respect to Rebecca. It takes much courage and wisdom to have this kind of cross-cultural, cross-generational and cross-paradigm communication. It gives us an opportunity to observe Chinese young people's education and mode of thinking and provides us with an example for future dialogue with them.