The dearth of information available to the Chinese was constantly apparent. Right off the bat, there is the tiny little problem of all Google products being blocked. I had to use BING. The ignominy of it all. Then, of course, Facebook is blocked, too: just in case you run into someone else's opinion and it doesn't match Mao's (that also meant that my Instagram pictures had to wait until we got home!). The most frustrating blocked website, though, was our library site. I couldn't check out an e-book because heaven forbid you access any old non-approved library! A government that won't let you seek out information from non-vetted sources - whether it be from other people, writers and politicians, or whoever edited Wikipedia that morning - has something to hide from its people. This withholding of information was also demonstrated by the complete lack of signage around historical sites. I have been to empty battlefields with more informational plaques than in the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Great Wall, and Tiananmen Square combined.
The effect of this lack of outside written information is that the Chinese struggle to represent information accurately. The accepted propaganda-style writing bleeds into a variety of publications. I was reading a Chinese/English airline magazine during the flight from Beijing to Xi'an, and in an article about Frankfurt, Germany, the over-the-top language and hyperbole was rampant. Frankfurt was blithely called, "The financial capital of Europe" and "The most beautiful city in Europe", and some bit art conference was called, "The largest". The article wrapped with a story of a man in a German grocery store approaching the writer with sparkling eyes, tearfully telling him of how Merkel had just visited China, and the countries were friends, such good friends.
I have grave doubts any such grocery encounter occurred. It's like fact-checking doesn't exist. You don't question what you read, so why verify what you write?
I also noticed that the news is not only saturated with propaganda and the same overly-positive, nothing-bad-happens here style, but it's also obsessed with the United States. The bitter mentions in both the English language newspaper and on the news were constant. I watched a story that lasted about 15 minutes, focusing on blurry footage of Newport News. Clearly, it was supposed to be secret film of a new naval ship being built. After a while covering that, the footage switched to huge, glorious Chinese Navy ships steaming through the seas. All well and good, but the constant comparisons to the US just surprised me. They care about us way more than we care about them!
|Everything is gray.|
|The "nice" apartments. All ugly to me.|
|Towers of farmers|