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Western media’s pervasive bias against China today

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Why are we so often disturbed by Western media reporting and analysis of
China? Why does reading commentary of China's economy, foreign
relations, politics, and society leave us feeling emotionally abused,
injured, or even angry and resentful?

为什么我们常常在西方媒体关于中国的报道和分析中感到困惑?为什么关于中国的经济、外交、政治和社会的评论总是让我们感到被欺负、伤害,甚至是愤怒与仇恨?

I believe our reactions are a response to the pervasive, ugly, and
malevolent, but largely unnoticed element of schadenfreude in this
commentary.  It is our natural revulsion to writing and thinking that is
anti-humanistic, hostile, and harmful.
我认为我们的感觉是对文章中普遍存在的、泼脏水式和恶意的,但是却很大程度上被忽视的幸灾乐祸式的评论的一种自然而然的反应。这种我们写作上和思考上天然的反对立场,是反人类的、敌视的,而且是有害的。

Schadenfreude is a German-origin term defined by the Oxford Advanced
Learner's Dictionary as  "a feeling of pleasure at the bad things that
happen to other people."  Schadenfreude is rarely expressed plainly, or
in relation to a specific event or situation.  Rather, it is an attitude
and bias that disparages achievements, discredits sincerity, and hopes
for failure.
"Schadenfreude"是一个源于德语的词汇,根据《牛津高阶英语词典》,它的意思是"对他人遇上坏事感到的一种愉
悦"。"Schadenfreude"这个词很少被清楚地表达出来,或者联系到特定的事件或者场合上。相反,这是一种态度与偏见,它贬低对方成就、诋毁对
方诚意,并且满心希望对方失败。

We see this vile sentiment often in Western media coverage of news
events, in reporting on Chinese business, and particularly in analysis
and commentary on policies, plans, and initiatives of the government and
the Communist Party.
我们经常在西方媒体关于中国事物的报道中见到这种卑鄙的情绪,尤其是在对中国政府和中共的政策、计划和举措的分析和评论上。

It is not just reporting mainly "bad news," like tainted milk powder or
cooking oil scandals, although this feature is common too, particularly
in blogs and the popular press. Rather, it is reporting only of the
facts that support a narrative of endemic amorality or immorality and
government social irresponsibility, with a subliminal message that the
Chinese people or system are immoral, corrupt, and will or should fail.
它不只是主要报告一下"坏新闻",像是毒奶粉或者地沟油,尽管这种事情也的确常见,尤其是在博客和大众媒体上;相反的,它只报道那些地方性的不道德事件,或者关于政府不负责任的叙述,其潜台词就是中国人或者中国的体制就是不道德的、腐败的,是即将或者应该失败的。

The commentator most identified with schadenfreude in writing on China
is Gordon G. Chang.  Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China,
released in 2001, has turned apocalyptic predictions and ill-wishing
into a best-selling "brand."
在报道中国事物方面,这种幸灾乐祸式评论的典型就是章家敦(Gordon G. Chang)。他是2001年出版的《中国即将崩溃》一书的作者;这本书已经变成世界末日式的预言,并有望成为畅销书的品牌。

On cue, writing on Forbes.com after Alibaba's world-beating IPO in New
York, Chang was quick to predict, and seemingly to hope, that the
company's ambition to surpass Walmart as the world's largest retailer
would be unrealized.
正巧,在阿里巴巴震惊世界的纽约IPO时间后,章家敦很快在福布斯网站上预测,貌似也是希望,该公司"超过沃尔玛,成为全球最大的零售商"的壮志将无法实现。

Indeed, at every major juncture on economic and social China's
development path, from WTO accession, to coping with the global
financial crisis, to economic and financial system reform, to the
current anti-corruption campaign, Chang has been predicting, and
seemingly hoping for, massive failure and systematic collapse.
事实上,在中国发展道路上的每一个重大关头,比如加入世界贸易组织(WTO)、应对国际金融危机、对经济和金融系统的改革、当前的反腐运动等,章家敦每每预测,并且似乎希望(中国迎来)大规模的失败和系统性崩溃。

Chang has been consistently wrong on matters large and small.  Instead
of failure and collapse China was achieved successes, advancing to a
new, higher level of development and prosperity. Chang's errors reflect a
fundamental incapacity, and psychological unwillingness, to understand
China and its people, their feelings, aspirations, and loyalties.
(但是)章家敦在大大小小的事务上一贯错误。中国并没有失败或者崩溃,相反的,它反而取得了成功,走向了一个新的、更高的、更繁荣的发展水平。在理解中国与中国人民,以及他们的感情、愿景与忠诚上,章家敦的错误反映了一种根本上的失能与心理上的不愿意。

Chang's brand is emblematic of the negative bias toward China, tinged
with schadenfreude,that is more common than uncommon in the Western
press.
章家敦就是带点幸灾乐祸地看衰中国的媒体形象代言人,而这种现象在西方媒体中是更为常见的。

Today this bias informs reporting and commentary on China's top
leadership's two towering visions and initiatives: realizing a "China
Dream" and rooting out endemic corruption. Both visions, and the actions
being pursued toward their realization, typically receive cynical,
unsympathetic, skeptical, or derisive treatment in the Western media.
如今这种偏见性的报道和评论集中在了中国最高领导人的两个宏伟目标和计划上:实现"中国梦"与铲除腐败。这两个愿景与他们根据认识所采取的行动,毫无例外地受到了西方媒体戏谑、无情、怀疑或者嘲讽的对待。

The success of the anti–corruption campaign is of existential importance
to China's future, which is to say to the safety, security, and
prosperity of the Chinese people. So is the vision of the "China Dream."
Yet in publications like The New York Times, The Washington Post,
Bloomberg, and The Wall Street Journal, the sincerity, or even the moral
authority, of China's leaders in pursuing these visions is regularly
impugned or denied. Some reporting has seemingly aimed to undermine the
authority of leaders, so as to complicate or derail related initiatives.
反腐败斗争的胜利对中国的未来具有现实的重要性,这对中国人的财产安全、生命安全和经济繁荣具有重要意义。"中国梦"也一样。但是在像是纽约时报、华盛顿
邮报、彭博社与华尔街日报等出版物中,中国领导人追求这些愿景的诚意,甚至道德威信,总是被不时不时地责难或者否定。一些报道似乎旨在破坏领袖权威,从而
搅浑水或者破坏相关举措。

The government of China has felt obliged to protect the people's vital
interests by blocking publications like The New York Times that had
acted as though its purpose was to sabotage those interests. This point
was made by former Shanghai mayor, and now deputy head of the Chinese
People's Political Consultative Conference, Xu Kuangdi, in answering a
member of the America Chamber of Commerce after the speech by former
president Jimmy Carter in Shanghai on September 9.
中国政府已经感到有必要屏蔽类似纽约时报这样的出版物来保护人民切身利益,但是这看起来又像是为了损害这些出版物的利益。这一观点在9月9日接待前美国总统吉米·卡特后对美国商会成员的演讲中,被前任上海市长、现任中国人民政治协商会议副主席徐匡迪提出。

That the government of China should take measures is understandable.
That China has blocked such internet search portals as Google (while
affording open internet access to its citizens through portals like
Sohu.com) is also understandable and justifiable from the standpoint of
the interests of the Chinese people.
因此中国政府采取的行动是可以理解的。中国屏蔽互联网搜索门户网站谷歌(同时开放门户网站比如搜狐等供公民接入互联网)同样是可以理解的,也是正当的——从中国人民的立场看来。

China's citizens nevertheless enjoy essential access to a range of
domestic and foreign media that has not adopted an anti-China bias.  
Such unbalanced reporting is itself a expression of a biased,
schadenfreude media mindset.
尽管如此(屏蔽了谷歌),中国公民依旧可以访问大量未采用反中偏见的国内外媒体。这种不平衡的报道本身就是一种戴有色眼镜的、幸灾乐祸式心态的体现。

A pervasively biased Western media unfortunately plays into the hands of
persons seeking to characterize China as posing a security "threat" to
its neighbors or to the United States. Possessing an attitude of
schadenfreude, the media not only dismiss, but would seek to impugn and
deny China's leaders' sincerity when they express the Chinese people's
vital need for and yearning for peace and harmony with their Asian
neighbors and with the United States.
很不幸地,在西方媒体手中,一个普遍的偏见就是寻求将中国打扮成"威胁"邻国或者美国安全的坏蛋。持有这种幸灾乐祸的态度,媒体不仅会被驳回,而且会寻求抨击和否定中国领导人诚意——当他们表达中国人民对与亚洲邻国和美国的构建和平与和谐关系的迫切需要和向往的时候。

China's actions, often in reaction to provocations of other countries
(notably with Japan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands, and with Vietnam
and the Philippines in the South China Sea) are described as
"aggressive"–therefore requiring counterforce–when in fact they are
defensive. The reality of China's long-standing policy of patience,
restraint, and dispute resolution through bi-lateral negotiations is
never mentioned.
中国的行动,经常是对其他国家挑衅的一种反应(尤其是与日本关于尖阁/钓鱼岛及其附属岛屿、与越南和菲律宾关于南海诸岛的冲突),但是它们被描述为"侵略
性的"——因此需要被平衡的——而事实上他们是被动防御性的。中国在长期采用的忍耐与克制政策,以及通过双边谈判解决争端的事实,却从未被提及。

What to do about foreign media schadenfreude toward China?  It is too
serious, malevolent, and potentially harmful a problem to ignore.
对于外国媒体总是对中国采用幸灾乐祸式的态度该怎么处理?这是一个相当严肃的问题,因为当前的媒体环境充满恶意,故意忽视具有潜在危害的问题。

The most important counter-measure is to shine a light on this vile
attitude, to sharpen readers' and listeners' perception of its presence.
The second is to call out and condemn instances (and their authors)
that are clearly malevolent in intent or effect.
最重要的应对措施就是曝光这些卑鄙的行为,提高在读者与听众中的存在感。第二就是调查并谴责在意图和效果上带有明显恶意的报道(以及他们的作者)。

The third is to join with and to support, through loyalty and goodwill,
the efforts of persons in China and the United States, within and
without government, working to further peace, harmony, mutual respect
between our countries, and better lives for both our citizens.
第三就是通过忠诚和善意,加入与支持中美两国为致力于持久和平与和谐、互相尊重与奔向更好明天的政府与民间交流而努力。

Stephen M. Harner is a former Foreign Service Officer (U.S. Department
of State), international banker, and consultant in Japan and China.  He
is a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced
International Studies (SAIS).
Stephen M. Harner 是美国国务院前外交事务主任,国际银行家,中日问题顾问。他毕业于约翰·霍普金斯大学高级国际关系研究学院(SAIS)。

2016-06-24

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