The other day I went to lunch with two international lawyers from Spain who were passing through town. They talked a lot about their work in Angola and in Mozambique and we talked a lot about our work in China and the rest of Asia. They talked of how in Spain there had been a consumer and regulatory backlash against many Chinese consumer goods and how, for instance, consumers there had pretty much stopped buying Chinese made shoes.
I asked if there were many Chinese in Angola and Mozambique and they both immediately starting talking about the huge numbers of them in both countries. I asked what they were doing in those countries and they answered, construction. Chinese companies are behind the building of infrastructure and buildings in both countries. Now of course I knew/assumed China was in these two countries, but knowing that is different from having a real knowledge of what they are doing there.
Though I often write on what Chinese companies are doing in the United States (and that is nearly always from the prism of the Chinese companies with which my law firm has worked), my knowledge of what those companies are doing outside the United States is very limited. To try to expand my knowledge of that, I have taken to reading the “Hurting the Feelings of the Chinese People” blog, which is subtitled, “China vs. the World.” The blog’s about page describes it as follows:
I am interested in how the rise of China is affecting other countries, and how the Chinese are adapting to their increasing power. So, a blog with some links and commentary about the 21st century and China … by “Hong Mao”
Though pretty much “just” an news aggregator, this is an excellent and important blog. It typically posts around ten articles a day on what is happening with Chinese company and the Chinese people around the world. Today’s posts are illustrative:
— “Chinese businessmen in Papua New Guinea armed with machine guns”
— “Ninety Chinese-run brothels in Dublin”
— “Chinese set up factories in Egypt”
— “Fujianese extortion gangs prey on Chinese business owners around New York”
— “Nepal/India: tigers and rhino decimated by poachers for Chinese market”
— “Zimbabwean security services based on Chinese model”
— “Ethiopia uses Chinese help to suppress truth about famine”
I have to believe there are relevant lessons to be learned about China business and, in particular, Chinese business overseas, from all (or at least nearly all) of these articles. More importantly, I find them unremittingly interesting and I highly recommend you check out this blog.
An anonymous commenter left a comment to this post that, though somewhat critical of the post, is dead on and bears repeating in the body of this post:
I just checked out the blog. I’m a little surprised that someone like Dan, who is usually a pretty careful guy, would recommend that blog with the words “although pretty much “just” an news aggregator, this is an excellent and important blog. It typically posts around ten articles a day on what is happening with Chinese company and the Chinese people around the world.”
It would be like describing Freerepublic.com or the Michelle Malkin blog as “excellent and important resources to learn what is happening with liberals around the world”.
It seems from at least the headlines that stories are selected which focus on disreputable, paranoid-inducing and fearmongering news about the Chinese.
Worse, the blog actually alters the headline and text of the original news stories, editing out facts or statements that present a more neutral picture, causing the reader to have a decidedly more negative view towards China and Chinese than the original articles present.
For example, take a look at the story linked above headlined “Fujianese extortion gangs prey on Chinese business owners around New York”.
It has a link to the original Newsday story which was headlined “Massapequa boy bound but uninjured in home invasion”. The original news story does not mention Fujianese extortion gangs in the headline.
Further, 3 paragraphs were redacted out of the story reprinted at the blog:
“Nassau Det. Sgt. Al Sharpe said the possibility that the family was targeted because of their business “is certainly one of the angles we’re looking at.”
Sharpe could not comment on whether the suspects targeted the family because of their background.
One of the three men was wearing a red baseball cap, police said. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-244-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.”
The original headlined and article presented a more neutral and objective statement of the facts. The “fact” of Fujianese extortion gangs preying on Chinese businesspeople in NY was actually just a hearsay statement uncorroborated by any evidence (“the mother said friends have told her about thieves within the Fujianese-Chinese community targeting restaurant owners”). The Newsday journalist correctly inserted a balancing statement by the police sergeant which cautions against drawing any conclusions without evidence.
Not so the blog, which blares the problem of Fujianese extortion gangs as conclusive fact in the headline.
Hmmm. Is it “news aggregation” when the news aggregator changes the headline and deletes text from the original news story to suit the blog’s own view of the world?
What is the intention behind it?
As Dan well knows, when writing legal briefs, one of the ways lawyers try to strengthen an argument is to cite and quote cases selectively to bolster, hoping that the reader will not notice the missing parts of the original cases cited. But when the reader picks up on what has been deleted, and realizes how much the meaning of the original has been distorted by the deletion, then the drafter loses credibility in the readers’ mind, because of the misleading use of the citations.
Out of the 7 articles linked above, the original articles for 5 of them are significantly different from the article appearing at the blog. The effect is to take articles where the Chinese role is relatively minor and magnify it in a negative way (e.g., compare the Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Nepal articles as cited in the blog to the original, and notice the differences).
I know Dan is a busy professional (like most working lawyers) and appreciates that someone is out there aggregating news around the world about China in one place, and probably doesn’t have time to check the blog against the original source to see what the differences are.
My suggestion is to use the blog, and then read the original. It is very easy to see the “slant” of the blogger Hong Mao when you do this.
First off, let me say thanks for taking the time to review the blog and to write your comment. Mea culpa. I did not realize this blog was anything more than a news aggregator and I did not realize it had an agenda. I certainly did not realize that it was leaving out key sections of articles and essentially changing the thrust of those articles with its headlines. I did not realize any of these things because I did not compare the articles within the blog to the originals. I am particularly troubled by its omitting portions of the articles, while making it seem as though we are seeing the whole thing.
Having said all this, I still find the blog somewhat worthwhile, though decidely less so than before. To use the commenter’s analogy, Michelle Malkin’s blog and Freerepublic.com are good sources to find out to “learn what is happening with liberals around the world.” But if you are going to read those two sites, you should do so knowing their agendas and you should seek to balance that out by reading other sites as well. When I was in college (and had all the time in the world), I would read just about every political magazine out there, from National Review on the right to The Nation on the left, both of which were good sources for learning about what was happening with liberals and conservatives around the world. So go ahead and read “Hurting the Feelings of Chinese People,” but recognize it has its own slant on the world and be sure to read the underlying articles to learn it all. Frankly, I do not have time to double check everything that a blogger says on issues that are really pretty tangential to my life and so while I am going to keep this blog on my RSS feeder just because it is a good amalgamator of news about Chinese business outside China, I likely will not be reading many of its posts.