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[flagged] The Chinese media model (china-underground.com)
35 points by subsonico 24 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 50 comments



I'm always amused by the indignation expressed by people when some nation other than their own is shown to be using their resources to to exert international influence. The British Empire did. The USSR did. The United States does. Of course China does too.


I can't even begin to relate to this point of view. Why does everything have to be side-taking, where nobody is allowed to be accused of anything if somebody else, now or in the past, has committed even just the same genre of crime? And why the smug "amused" line? To me, it's all terribly demoralizing.


Contrarian viewpoints (i.e. "this is actually different", "this is actually not surprising") are very popular on Hacker News and upvote based internet fora. Many times they are actually low value, especially when they are not even particularly responding to a surprise in the original article, but to a surprise the poster initially had or an expected surprise the general audience should have.

You can have a discussion on whether this is a good thing or not, but being smug about how "we knew better all along" is very low value. The best comments I feel shouldn't be about the type of response you should have to the article, it should be about the contents of the article. Yet comments like these trigger something in people to upvote it anyway.


>I can't even begin to relate to this point of view. Why does everything have to be side-taking, where nobody is allowed to be accused of anything if somebody else, now or in the past, has committed even just the same genre of crime?

Because when you criticize one side, you are side-taking. And everything you say or write is used to justify global politics (and is primed to do just that). There's no "impartiality" when you single out one side to criticize.

Either put it in context, or make a statement criticizing all parties doing the same. It's not really difficult to study and learn about things, and put them in perspective, instead of singling out a party as some unique "evil".

And it is doubly insulting to countries and peoples who have suffered your version of doing the same thing to see you point out others and demand their heads for it. It's adding hypocrisy to injury.

>To me, it's all terribly demoralizing.

To me people making accusations only for others, and neglecting their side's serious complicity in the same thing, is not only terribly demoralizing, not only hypocritical, but also strategic.

The 60s anti-culture movement could simultaneously criticize USSR, the Prague invasion, etc AND Uncle Sam and Vietnam. Not just in their media, even in a single song oftentimes.

Now it's 1000 articles criticizing one side as uniquely evil with not even a whisper of own actions, and 10 giving the internal perspective. Not exactly balanced (talking about foreign politics here. In internal politics, I guess it's more like "Hurray for the democrats/republicans establishment ideas, down with Trump" what passes for criticism of both democrat/republicans and Trump).

(And anybody attempting to correct that is hit with the thought-stopping accusation of "whataboutism")


> There's no "impartiality" when you single out one side to criticize.

This "singling out" is a fabrication though, and that's the problem here.

> people making accusations only for others

Again, who's doing that? You use the people who do that as fig leaf to ignore the people who don't. You dodge the strongest interpretation in favor of a weaker position that is conjured before anyone even shows up who is actually holding it.

> neglecting their side's serious complicity in the same thing

Same here, just because some people are doing that, doesn't mean all do.

Either way, even the hypocrisy of that hypothetical person doing that would be utterly dwarved by the monstrosity of the atrocities the reaction to which is diluted by games such as this.


>Again, who's doing that? You use the people who do that as fig leaf to ignore the people who don't. You dodge the strongest interpretation in favor of a weaker position that is conjured before anyone even shows up who is actually holding it.

You can read a forum or a media outlet for days, and you'll see single one-sided mentions 90% of the time, with no context, and with hypocritical framing as if it's only one side doing it.

And I remember times when they weren't doing so, where coverage was not so one sided, and where people (e.g. 60s and 70s media, influenced by people looking for wider truths, and looking into alternative media and counter-culture) would be critical of all sides, and offer more perspective.

>Same here, just because some people are doing that, doesn't mean all do.

I don't care for all, I care for what most do. Especially most media.

It's of little comfort if most of the people do X and some conscientious minority doesn't. The noise of what most do still prevails and informs public opinion and policy.


> You can read a forum or a media outlet for days

In other words, nobody is doing it here, in this context.

> And I remember times when they weren't doing so, where coverage was not so one sided, and where people (e.g. 60s and 70s media, influenced by people looking for wider truths, and looking into alternative media and counter-culture) would be critical of all sides, and offer more perspective.

You call it "more perspective", I call it dilution and spam. It could be attached to any discussion, and it doesn't tell us anything new. All the hallmarks of comments that end up flagged and admonished by people piling on, if the context is different. That's the only interesting data here.

> I don't care for all, I care for what most do.

As I said, "You use the people who do that as fig leaf to ignore the people who don't."

> It's of little comfort if most of the people do X and some conscientious minority doesn't.

That doesn't change what you and the comment you found so spot on are doing, which is not responding to the actual article, or any actual comment.

Does "but the US is doing it too" provide comfort to anyone? Nope. So the argument that X doesn't provide comfort falls flat in light of nothing else providing said "comfort" either, whatever that would even mean in concrete terms.


>You call it "more perspective", I call it dilution and spam. It could be attached to any discussion, and it doesn't tell us anything new.

It wouldn't tell someone "anything new" presumed they already knew their side was doing the same shit. Most don't. And being predominantly told about the evil others doing it (in accordance with whatever the current enemy/ally du jour is, and which agenda is to be pushed at any time), doesn't make them any favors. That's the actual noise.

>As I said, "You use the people who do that as fig leaf to ignore the people who don't."

No, I'm interested in actual outcomes, and those have to do with frequency of something being done. You can find some people doing the right thing at every point in history and on every matter. Their existence doesn't make it less of a problem -- as long as the majority (or a big enough segment, or those with more power) are not doing the right thing.

I'm not sure what the "fig leaf" accusation is supposed to settle. If someone speaks about e.g. tourist's polluting a national park, would you go and tell them "there are some people who don't throw garbage when they visit there", as if that somehow makes the problem go away? And you'd be mad at them when insisting the problem exists, because they "use those that do as a fig leaf to hide those that don't"?

>That doesn't change what you and the comment you found so spot on are doing, which is not responding to the actual article

That's called "agency". As an individual, I don't have to respond to the way something is phrased and stick to that like an automaton.

Nor is it always to the detriment of the discussion not sticking to the narrow scope something was presented in. Especially in politics (this is not a technical matter).


> That's called "agency". As an individual, I don't have to respond to the way something is phrased and stick to that like an automaton.

Speaking of that, I think I already have wasted more time on this tripe than I can justify.


I don't understand how "this is how all powerful nations operate" is "taking sides". I thought it was quite the opposite.

I am absolutely not saying that China (or anyone else) can't be accused of propaganda (I mean, I'm pretty sure it's literally in their government playbook after all), just that it's funny (can I say 'funny' instead of 'amused' or am I not allowed to derive entertainment in any form?) when people from a country with a strong history of international propaganda get all upset and act like it's unfair when another country does it.

It'd be much more appropriate to just say "hey, looks like the Chinese propaganda machine is producing X at the moment, think twice if you read this kind of article / see this kind of endorsement / etc."


Right but not all reflect the same principles.

If you want to jump on the China principles bandwagon that’s your right, but you have to realize the principles allow for different outcomes, some more or less universal or inclusive or exclusive.

Put another way, would you propose the US (or Europe) adopt Chinese styled principles and use their influence to project them? Would that be a good thing?


The British' principles gave us the Kashmir/Pakistani conflict, and (coupled with France and various other European nations) numerous civil wars across Africa.

The US' principles gave us decades of corruption and drug trade in South America.

The USSR's principles gave us the iron curtain, and the Afghan and Czechen rebellions.

I'm sure there's nuances all around, but let's not pretend the previous perpetrators were a shining beacon of morality.


It’s the potential the principles offer, the language they engender. Without these principles some ideas remain infertil.


Exactly.

Ever since WWII the US had sponsored all kinds of media, funded opposition parties (of whole dictators, guerrilla armies, and so on), wined, dined and bribed foreign journalists, politicians etc to spread the stories they liked, runs thousands of cover publications, organizations, "NGOs", and media, including the more transparent ones, like "Radio Free Europe", and so on.

Others are doing it too? Cry me a river...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Mockingbird

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CIA_influence_on_public_opinio...

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article28610.htm

https://www.aim.org/special-report/how-obamas-cia-manipulate...

https://arretsurinfo.ch/newly-declassified-documents-show-th...

https://www.wired.com/2011/09/cia-pitches-hollywood/

https://www.corbettreport.com/how-the-cia-plants-news-storie...


And what, we shouldn't care because of that?


I hope we have moved on from slavery and colonization. Lets not encourage its return


[flagged]


This comment breaks the site guideline against insinuations of astroturfing. Please don't do that on HN. Also, please don't take HN threads further into flamewar generally, and nationalistic flamewar particularly.

On the astroturfing point, anyone who wants more explanation can find reams of it here: https://hn.algolia.com/?query=by:dang%20astroturfing&sort=by.... In particular, here's a recent detailed explanation:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19485935

And here's a recent thread which clearly demonstrates why we have this rule:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19401961

Finally, please don't use the tired trope of "whataboutism" on HN. Clichés like that contain no information, and this one is merely a rhetorical device to exclude something the speaker dislikes. If somebody brings up a point which you don't think is relevant, explain why in specific terms, not by calling generic names.


I explicitly did not insinuate astroturfing. What are you smoking?


You said "agents", which is much the same thing. The whole comment was the sort of insinuation we're asking users not to do here.

I tried to explain this in the other comments I linked to. If you look at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19485935 in particular, this should be clear.


I literally said "I'm not accusing parent of being related".

That is orthogonal to Confucius Institute agents being trained to use the same tactic that happened to be the most upvoted comment.

I didn't insinuate parent is astroturfing or an 'agent'. I just pointed out that parent is repeating the same mindset that China wants to be repeated, it is literally in Xi's strategy outline. I am sure parent wholeheartedly holds that view and is not a shill or anything of the sort.

But at least I see where the misunderstanding came from.


The curious thing about insinuation is that negation doesn't negate it.

Consider a construct like, "I'm not saying you're a spy, but...". Saying I'm not saying something is a way of saying it.


You are outright failing or refusing to see that the narrative laid out in the comment made no insinuation, explicitly disavowed insinuation, and instead highlighted an alarming parallel. You seem to be the only one having this issue since the other replies to that comment did understand the narrative and din't read it as a shill accusation.

I hope this is in fact a misunderstanding on your part and not reflective of a broader bias.


well said, terrifying is no exaggeration


To be clear, the Confucius Institute is aimed at teaching students in its hosted nation certain propaganda. Products of the domestic China censored education system also use a lot of whataboutism.

The bigger problem is the fact this submission was censored from the front page as soon as it started to gain traction. Sam Altman's China strategy would appear to include censorship of Hacker News.


The submission was flagged by users. Moderators downweighted it the way we downweight all sensationalist flamewar articles (if we didn't, they would always be all the top stories on HN). But it is the user flags that buried it.

Articles and sites like this one are off topic for Hacker News. We're looking for articles that gratify intellectual curiosity, not ones that gin up flamewars, let alone nationalistic flamewars. Submissions to Hacker News need to be much, much more substantive than this—most of all on divisive topics.

This is obviously a single-agenda, highly politicized site; we ban all of those, regardless of their politics. We also ban accounts that only use HN to promote their own site (https://news.ycombinator.com/submitted?id=subsonico). Indeed, on second look, it's clear that this account and this site have simply been spamming HN: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18381256, https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17834767. We should have caught that a long time ago. (Edit: and even the current article turns out to be blogspam from another source.)

We don't moderate stories about China differently than any others. HN moderation standards are consistent to the point of tedium. There is inconsistency in practice, but only because of the quantity of material that appears here—way more than we could ever hope to read or even see.

Users with strong opinions of whatever flavor are quick to convince themselves that they see bias, but that's because the stronger your feelings on a topic, the more your feelings affect what you notice. Plenty of stories critical of things in China spend plenty of time on HN's front page (e.g. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19493033 has spent most of today on the front page). If you've noticed those at all, I'm sure they didn't attract as much of your attention as this one getting flagged. Readers with opposite views to yours feel equally certain that HN is heavily biased against China—and frankly, based on the stories that appear here, they have a better case for their claim than you do.

"Sam Altman's China strategy", whatever that is, has nothing to do with HN. Our sole "strategy" is to maintain an internet message board that doesn't choke to death on its fumes while burning to death from its flames. That is already a feeble enough hope that we have no bandwidth for anything else.

Edit: having just taken a look at your comment history, I'm dismayed to see that this account has also have been using HN exclusively for nationalistic and political battle. As I'm sure you know, this is not allowed on HN and we ban accounts that do it. Worse, you appear to have done it numerous times before. When people create accounts to break HN's guidelines like that, we eventually ban their main account as well. If you'd please review https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and use HN as intended from now on, we'd appreciate it.


Thank you for your responses. Unfortunately I'm not as comfortable using my primary account for responses here, so I will abstain from discussions of a political nature.


I don't mean to exclude you from such discussions! But it's important not to have accounts that are used only for that. The value of HN is intellectual curiosity. Every account should clearly be using the site for that purpose, and some purposes—like political battle, or promotional marketing—go against it.

The other thing is just that it's necessary to follow the guidelines even more scrupulously as a topic becomes more divisive. Things like "Assume good faith" are our lines of defense against the forum destroying itself.


I think Internet has become the easiest way to spread propoganda. China is not the only one doing this.

It's so easy to spread ideas using Internet these days, that almost all business, political and social entities around the world are involved in the spreading whatever ideas they deem worthy.

The bigger entities are able to spread them more effectively which is expected.

Internet may eventually turn out to be a bigger monster for modern human civilization than other threats in the past like World Wars and Cold War.


Easy to spread but easy to ignore. The internet cheapened communications to the point where propaganda has about the same worth as cat memes.


You can only ignore the propaganda if you recognize it as such. Western audiences don't really have the background knowledge to evaluate what they read, and Western media tend to focus on the foreign policy of their country as it relates to China.

The two highest-quality (in terms of professionalism and level of detail) English news sources reporting on China are https://scmp.com and http://sixthtone.com . The South China Morning Post has somewhat retained their independence, but Sixth Tone is a government-backed propaganda outlet, existing only to counter negative reporting on Chinese politics with news in other domains. Someone reading a lifestyle article on Sixth Tone isn't easily going to realize that they're reading propaganda unless it's pointed out to them.


Except people see them (political cat memes) and actually think they are true.



Speaking of propaganda, can we talk about how good the movies Wolf Warrior and Wolf Warrior 2 is? Both films feature Chinese military protagonists and both films feature western villains.

These films remind me of Rambo even including the jingoistic pro-nation-of-origin message.

I think the international market accepted Rambo because they thought USA was cool. I wonder if we will find ourselves consuming “Chinakana” (riff on “Americana”) when we think China is “cool.”


Rambo isn't pro-USA is it? Surely It's the story of man fucked over by his country, and the opposite of what you're saying?


The original Rambo film is a remarkably thoughtful study of the challenges Vietnam veterans faced reintegrating into society, including a look inside PTSD (the book even more so than the film... the book was commonly included in high school history and civics courses in the decade after it was written). The sequels, which are the films best remembered today, were of course nothing but pure adrenaline rides with nothing to recommend them, but don't taint the original film with the sins of its sequels. Even the portrayal of the "evil" small town sheriff Rambo battles is remarkably interesting and nuanced. Yes, it's still a popcorn film, but it's one of the most thoughtful and intelligent action films you're likely to find (there is much more than meets the eye in Sylvester Stallone, writer of both the original Rambo script and the Rocky script).


Rambo is a case of dramatic irony which has backfired such that the deeper, satirical meaning has been lost on the audience. This may have to do with the problem that the original film, First Blood, was way less popular than the sequels and that those films dialed up the violence to ridiculous levels, making it harder for the audience to see the original message.


I've only watched the trailer but I liked the part where the protagonist forces the tank to stop by standing in front of it, a bit like the famous tank man picture


Ignoring whether good or bad they will be “cool” wherever they project power and influence.


This seems to be blog spam of https://rsf.org/sites/default/files/en_rapport_chine_web_fin...

I thought they at least did some work to summarize the report, but even the text of the "Summary" section is lifted directly from the foreword.


I cannot access this website (from London). I get "Web server is down" and ERR_CONNECTION_TIMED_OUT.

Since people are upvoting and commenting, can someone share this article?


Same here, from Sweden can't access


I'm accessing it from Sweden.


Same from Cape Town


Well the site is down for me, sort of seems to support the gist of the articles title (Got 521 error - Web site down), can ping the domain. Would "they" really bring down a site that is critical of "them" or is it coincidental?


Moderators: Why was this submission removed from the front page as soon as it started to gain traction?

The risk of nationalistic flame wars needs to be weighed against important discussion potential. But the submission is interesting enough even if the comments are disabled.

Is there any statistics on changes to Hacker News censorship since Sam Altman's China strategy was announced?


You posted three of these. Would you please not overdo it like that?

I responded here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19496933.


Stories gaining traction in the form of comments affects the ranking negatively if it's not upvoted at the same tame. It indicates that people are more interested in voicing their opinion than whatever the submission had to say. If you disagree with that reasoning and want to see lively discussions anyway, you should probably browse https://news.ycombinator.com/active instead of or in addition to the traditional front page.

We've also had plenty of China-related flame wars stay on the front page for longer, so I don't think you can accuse the moderators of applying a double standard compared to other political topics. https://hn.algolia.com/?query=China&dateRange=pastWeek


Having tracked the position of stories on the first 10 pages for a few weeks last December, I saw a lot of things flagged off the front page before they even had a chance to get comments. While I can't and don't blame HN for the flagging activity for users, I can and do blame it for not making flags public. Votes are one thing, but flagging articles isn't an expression of anything private, or at least it shouldn't be. If flags were public and came with a bunch of radio buttons and a text field for a reason for the flag, that'd be at least a start. "Send us an email when you see a pattern in the data we don't provide" doesn't really cut it.


Was the removal from the front page algorithmic or a manual step by moderators?

The lack of transparency with the soft censorship is alarming, particularly given YC's financial conflict of interest.


Since the article title is different now, I assume a moderator looked at it at some point. IIRC, they check all instances of the flame war detector firing, to prevent false positives. In this case, they probably didn't find the comments salvageable.

On the other hand, https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19493033 is currently on the front page after previously disappearing, so the mods seem to have intervened in that case.




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