Why is China threatening to expel foreign correspondents? Old-fashioned intimidation, says the New Yorker’s Evan Osnos, still writing incisively in absentia. (A lesson for you, China: journalists can churn even when they don’t live here.) His latest analysis of China’s ongoing crackdown on media is worth a complete read, but let us highlight this paragraph:
China is gradually losing interest in soft power. The Party spent much of the past decade seeking to project a more attractive and welcoming image to the world; it placed billboards in Times Square, expanded the reach of its news outlets to broadcast more of its views to Africa and Latin America, and built hospitals, roads, and soccer stadiums in developing countries. Those efforts will continue, but the leadership is signalling that it has concluded being liked is less important than simply surviving. I spent some time with a senior Chinese diplomat recently, and when I asked what motivated the threat of expulsion, the diplomat said that the Times and Bloomberg were seeking nothing short of removing the Communist Party from power, and that they must not be allowed to continue. That argument surprised me: I had expected a bland procedural defense—this was a blunt expression of fear.
And the kicker:
The new generation leading China fears that the effort to itemize its financial gains is a story so deep and dangerous that it is worth sacrificing China’s broader goals, at home and abroad, in order to prevent it from being told.
Perhaps this new generation of China’s leaders just needs better accountants. Preposterous suggestion? Eh. cf. Let’s kick out foreign journos instead!
The Meaning of China’s Crackdown on the Foreign Press (The New Yorker) (Image via)
Previously: On the New York Times’s Future in China