Given that censorship is supposed to be heavier than ever these days in China, I found very curious — and slightly aberrant — these two stories today on Huanqiu Shibao, a flagship outlet for foreign news and opinion in Beijing.
1. The following article from 《日本新华侨报》(Xinhua Daily for Overseas Chinese in Japan) does a dissertation on the much-debated phrase “有关部门” (“relevant authorities”). The phrase is often used to describe unnamed government authorities. The new editorial is sources as “Japanese media”, which I find remarkable, but it is also rather frank discussion of how journalism is done in China today and the limits on quoteability.
(For connoisseurs, a fascinating debate about the phrase 有关部门” (“relevant authorities”) exists amid linguists and observers on One Free Korea with reference to the Chinese disavowal of culpability in the North Korean arrest/abduction of American reporters Laura Ling and Euna Lee this past summer. Which is to say that strategic vagueness is something that the PRC, and the Foreign Ministry in particular, would wish to preserve. That the phrase and the practice is being called into question here seems to be at least a somewhat healthy sign of internal debate in China.
2. This article is even more curious: an explanation of how French students and citizens are mobilizing to oppose French President Nicholas Sarkozy. “Hey!” it fairly roars, “400,000 people signed up for a Facebook internet movement.” People may be having one hell of a time sending e-mails from Xinjiang, and Facebook may be basically blocked in the PRC, but someone at Huanqiu decided to report the news for once without worrying that it could blow back against the CCP. Perhaps the spirit of Zhou Enlai’s youth lives on after all…Zhongguo jiayou!