Did Ken Livingstone Crony and Anti-Occupy Spokesman John Ross “Censor” the Global Times?

John Ross

John Ross (right), pictured in London


Last week, coverage of the embattled but peaceful pro-democracy rallies in Hong Kong earned the unsolicited though controversial criticism of one John Ross.

Ross, a British academic who describes himself as a “Senior Fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University,” took to Weibo (a Chinese Twitter) to accuse foreign media of being “too hypocritical.”

“In 150 years of British colonial rule in Hong Kong, they never permitted its people to elect their own governor, and the United States didn’t criticize the UK about it,” Ross wrote. In erecting this particularly withered straw man, of course, Ross utterly ignores the actual catalyst for these protests: the promises, originally brokered by the British, then later arguably broken by Beijing, for universal suffrage, as per the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ template agreed in 1984 between the UK and China.

Ross is obviously far too concerned with the hypocrisy of foreign governments to have any time for his own.

He proposes, for example, that the suffrage system now on the table in HK – three candidates, hand-picked by Beijing: Any color you like, so long as it’s red – is “much more democratic than the United Kingdom.” That’s presumably the same UK where calls for a referendum on Scottish independence were ruthlessly censored, its leaders crushed, journalists and activists imprisoned, and where the streets of Dundee and Glasgow are now lined with friendly, tear-gas wielding soldiers to preserve Scotland’s freedoms. To put things in perspective, in 2013 the Economic Intelligence Unit used actual data to rank countries by democracy, placing Hong Kong at 65 out of 165, with a score of 6.42, making it a “flawed democracy” (the UK is 16. China? 143).

Ross doesn’t – yet – enjoy the profitable pro-Party punditry platforms of his fellow foreign cheerleaders, such as Martin Jacques or meritocratist Daniel Bell, but nevertheless is intent on filling the mould of foreign stooge of a Chinese dictator… manipulated by those who found him useful,” like US constitutional scholar Frank Goodnow before him.  Clearly he believes there’s still gold up in those hills.

So when the “former director of London’s Economic and Business Policy to ex-Mayor Ken Livingstone,” was approached this summer by Chinese tabloid the Global Times (GT) for a profile about foreign China Watchers, he was, no doubt, expecting a nice soap-job.

After all, GT is a state-owned affiliate of People’s Daily, and its Chinese edition (whose bug-eyed editorials the English edition faithfully reproduces) is particularly known for its “nationalist” bent.

Ross, meanwhile, is a loyal toady of the new world order. The Marxist economist is so committed to serving the people that, back in 2004, he gracefully accepted a massive salary of £110,000 – more than the then-Mayor of New York – as one of “Red” Ken Livingstone’s closest crony-advisors. (The post was not advertised, which might have struck even Tony Blair as rather non-egalitarian.)*

Ross and GT would seem natural bedfellows.

Unfortunately, the paper’s reporter went off (Ross’s) script to deliver an actual piece of journalism: a long article about various overseas admirers of the Communist Party – often known as “Panda Huggers” – such as Ross and Martin Jacques, and entitled “Our Friends in the West.”

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 下午7.21.03

The cached article as it originally appeared


Within hours of this going online – and being enthusiastically shared among Twitter’s China hands – Ross was on the line to complain. Demonstrating his commitment to Party values by attempting to get the young journalist in trouble, Ross demanded immediate expunging of negative comments about himself. “I am well used to expect such articles by people such as the Southern Media Group,” Ross fumed, “but it was a great surprise to see it in Global Times.”

The reasons for Ross’s rage became abundantly clear: “This article attacks and attempts to discredit me by the typical methods of suppression of information and selective quotation,” he wrote (our emphases). Ross then demanded that several lines be removed – aka “suppression of information” – to make way for pre-approved remarks, supplied by him, inserted in their stead… a.k.a. “selective quotation” (!)

The article originally noted that – in Ross’s own words – he had been criticized by “British right wing [sic] writer Nick Cohen”:

Original text containing criticism of Ross quoted in the Guardian

Original text containing criticism of Ross as first written in the Guardian


This passage was excised at an unknown date, after publication, to be replaced with a glowing passage that displays a complete volte face in both facts and tone:

The new passage instead featured praise from former BBC chairman Gavyn Davies

The new passage now features praise from former BBC chairman Gavyn Davies


Of Cohen, all reference had vanished like a dissident in the night (apparently, “Cohen has no knowledge of economics,” as Ross fumed in his e-mail). Also missing:

The original contained a scathing reference to Ross' tireless work in the state-media sector

The original contained a scathing reference to Ross’ tireless work in the state-media sector, now deleted


Not content with neutering these small jabs, the overweening Ross then had an entire 90-word paragraph inserted, in which he demonstrates that he has, at least, apparently as much grasp of modern Chinese history as Cohen purportedly has of economics:


According to Ross, who simply ignores the entire periods of 1949-1976 and 1989-1992,  individual entrepreneurship is now the standard of measurement for a state’s human-rights record


Meanwhile, the fawning comments about Ross from his boss at the Chongyang Institute – a state-backed “think tank” run by a former hack from the Chinese edition of People’s Daily, Wang Wen – were unsurprisingly left untouched. The article, once a spiky piece of journalism, had effectively become a standard fluff piece larded with dripping encomia to Ross – all under the byline of a “senior reporter” who was powerless to prevent it.

Although he was indeed interviewed for the article, Ross concluded his email of complaint by remarking that he was “astonished that Global Times should publish such an attack on myself… without giving [me] any chance to reply to these attacks.”

Well, now we do have Ross’s reply:  In the form of the professional harassment of a female journalist at a state-owned paper, a shrill demand for heavy-handed censorship, and the wholesale manipulation of someone else’s work to further his own agenda. The difference is, we’re not the slightest bit astonished.


*While in position under Livingstone, Ross enjoyed 12 foreign jamborees in just three years, according to WorkersLiberty.org. But his finest hour came after Livingstone was defeated by Tory candidate Boris Johnson in the bitterly contested 2012 London mayoral elections.

Ross lost his incumbency – a hazard of democracy to the humble public servant-crony – but threatened Johnson with the use of “m’learned friends.” The justification? Before rejoining the ranks of the common man, Mayor Livingstone had slipped a new “unfair dismissal” rule in, which allowed political appointees the same redundancy rights as, well, chimney sweeps and nurses. Well – almost the same. Ross got a thoroughly socialist settlement, in the region of £200,000. Bottles of Karl Marx champagne all round!

You can follow the author on Twitter @MrRFH

    56 Responses to “Did Ken Livingstone Crony and Anti-Occupy Spokesman John Ross “Censor” the Global Times?”

      • FOARP

        Lol. Yeah, glad to see the ancient art of Panda-Hugger-Skewering is still alive and well on the Sinoblogosphere, John Ross is a particularly deserving subject for this treatment.

    1. AA

      Another killer piece by RFH, and kudos to the GT journalist – I wonder if an English language polisher had anything to do with it too? Lickspittles like John Ross are best ignored, but in this case deserved to be outed as a bag of dicks (no offence to the long serving BC commenter of the same name)

      • DerekF

        You’ve been using the quote by capitalist investment banker, Gavyn Davis, for quite a long time as the only favorable citation you can muster, but at the time he told me that he knew very little about your blog except that it seemed credible and was one of the few blogs out there on the Chinese economy. Now he dismisses you altogether as anything other than a clown. Have you tried to get a fresher opinion from him, and if you do, will you cite it?

    2. SeekTruthFromFacts

      The author of the piece, Lin Meilian, seems to be building a track record for asking difficult questions. She has written articles featuring interviews with officals in the Dalai Lama’s administration and abused petitioners in Beijing. That shows some guts from a Chinese reporter in state media. Some people might not take the line she takes, but it’s a long way from the crude propaganda we associate with GT’s Chinese edition.

      The English edition is different, of course – does anyone else remember their first June 4 front page article? The front page lead began “Yesterday morning saw the usual crowds at Tiananmen Square.” Inside, it noted drolly: “There are more policemen than usual these days,” said a local retiree who jogs around the square daily for exercise. He asked to remain anonymous.” http://www.globaltimes.cn/special/2009-06/434373.html

      Going back to Lin Meilian, she was featured as Journalist of the Month on a reputable journalism website:

    3. JPM

      Excellent analysis and commentary by RFH and praise for Lin Meilian’s coverage is deserved as well. He’s been around the Beijing media block a few times with spectacular results and she is amazingly still cranking out outstanding work for Global Times. I edited some of her larger stories back in the day and am heartened to see she’s still telling it like it is, rather than what her overlords think it should be.

    4. John Ross

      A journalist who quotes a right wing columnist on my economic knowledge rather than the former Chief Economist of Goldman Sachs is not trying to write an objective article but merely a smear.

      The same applies to writing that I receive “acclaim from the state” when I am equally very regularly published in China by Sina Finance, a privately owned company, in their “Opinion Leaders” column.

      While I received a prize from state media for my coverage of the 5 year plan I also received a prize from Sina Finance on a different topic.

      Similarly to say “Now he writes for state media, where his work has won frequent acclaim – from the state” without mentioning my articles have also appeared not only in Sina Finance, and other private sector publications, but also in The Guardian in the UK was an equally blatant smear.

      There are two types of discussion I regularly have on China publicly. One is with people like George Magnus, former chief economist of UBS, with whom I certainly disagree but who discusses serious matters.

      The other is stupid smear articles which use the well known yellow journalist methods of suppressing information.

      No one who thinks would fail to realise that failing to mention judgements on my work by famous economists, or my regular publication by leading private sector companies in China was intended as anything other than a rather crude smear.

    5. King Tubby

      Buy a hair piece buddy and a tin of Kiwi black shoe polish.
      Then you will fit right in at your local KTV.

      The Mainland is already full of scumsucking scribblers.

      Why import more?

      You look like a boozed-out product of too many good-will visits to Cuba.

    6. Chinese Netizen

      Please tell me that thing to left of him in the first photo is NOT a woman. If it is, no wonder he moved to CCP Utopia…

    7. King Tubby

      Come on, John.
      Reality check.
      Stand in front of a mirror and take a look at yourself.
      Serious hair loss. Pink with a really off-putting skin tone.
      Fat with a not very pleasant body odour.
      I know. I know.
      Your paid escorts think: easy money, but do I really want to do this?
      If he was around, Karl Marx would cut off your member and feed it to Feuerback.

    8. John Ross

      Comments by Chinese Netizen and King Tubby confirm my profound opposition to racism – further proof people in all countries have the same number of idiots

      • Jonathan Alpart

        John, thanks for fighting the good fight. King Tubby thinks he owns this blog and has most commenters under his thumb. It’s good to see someone finally speaking out. Don’t let up!

        • King Tubby

          Crikey Jonathon,

          You make me sound like Idi Amin.

          What a heads up: I apparently own this blog!!!

          Fact. Most BJC commentators would like to turn me into road kill.

          You are taking KTV drugs? Right?

          Haven’t been on this site for at least 15 months ever since General Tao gave me the boot for being obnoxious.

          Oh yes.

          I remember you now.

          The expat with totally rat shit musical taste.

          Hope you pass out in a urinal.

    9. King Tubby

      I must be getting senile in my old age, reproaching you for your baldness, BO and choice of female companions.

      Let’s take a pretty good guess about your biography.

      Spent your booze soaked youth ‘sort of’ reading Marxism Today and New Left Review, but didn’t take much in beyond the slogans. Critical thinking was not your forte. Foucault scared the fuck out of you. And even less lights like Hindess and Hirst gave you haemorrhoids.

      No, my friend. Your spent your time at parties getting pissed and pontificating in the kitchen, and putting the hard word on women passing thru on their way to the loo. Ended up back at your bedsit all by your wanking self.

      Tell me its not true, you old Stalinist hag.

    10. King Tubby

      Crikey, John.

      Where is your withering response?

      Sounds like you a fucked in Mainland China.

      No worries. There are still job opportunities available in North Korea and Eritrea.

      Better still, Tony Blair is looking for a very personal assistant and you definitely meet all the selection criteria.


    11. John Ross

      @Onathan Alpart
      It is no wonder people like King Tubby and Chinese Netizen have to write anonymously. It would be too shaming for anyone to know that a person held such views – going through life being known as an idiot is too embarrassing. Anonymity is better than being laughed at.

    12. John Ross

      Jonathan Alport, sorry for leaving a letter our of your name but I was typing fast – you understand it is not worth spending more than a few seconds on fools who are so scared of being seen for what they are they have to hide who they are – but being anonymous is better than being known as an idiot

      • Gilman Grundy (AKA FOARP)

        This from a guy who claims to be infalliable in terms of predictions (except those related to the Russian Communist Party . . . oh dear) and who describes China as being freer in terms of economic discussion than the UK. Pro tip John: ‘freedom’ is not the same as ‘will publish any old nonsense so long as it is favourable to the government’.

        The bit about having your tweets translated was particularly amusing, since it means that you appear not to even be able to communicate in the language of the country you claim to know so much about. It seems that, at least based on the fact that you tried to have it omitted, you share a common failing of truth-averse members of the expat community of wishing to hide your ignoance of the Chinese language in order not to have your supposedly masterful understanding of China questioned.

      • Johnson

        Amazing. In your apology for spelling his name wrong, you spelt his name wrong… AGAIN! It’s Alpart with an ‘a.’

        As you so honestly point out, John, being anonymous is, indeed, better than being known as an idiot

    13. Canton

      “I want to state with complete clarity I utterly & completely condemn the shooting of Malala Yousafzai.But for those who want understand world as it is not as they imagine see many tweets from Pakistan on Malala Yousafzai Nobel prize.” John Ross, Oct 10, 2014.

      Here you go folks, here’s China’s David Icke. A man who sees the West as the “big bad” behind everything in the world. Even now planting school girls in Pakistan with dangerous ideas such as “education” and “rights”.

      Yet, I guess he tweets his crap and researches with help of a VPN and has enjoyed a nice Western education to get him where he is today. He’s a joke and should be treated as such. Not everything in China is bad, but it certainly isn’t the springtime in heaven that CCP stooge Mr Ross paints it out to be.

      Even if I disagree with him, he certainly has the right to say what he likes. Unlike those who disagree with the CCP in China.

      • FOARP

        “I want to state with complete clarity I utterly & completely condemn the shooting of Malala Yousafzai.But for those who want understand world as it is not as they imagine see many tweets from Pakistan on Malala Yousafzai Nobel prize.” John Ross, Oct 10, 2014.

        Strewth. The logic is no different to that of the misogynist who declares that he condemns rape but women should know not to walk around dressed immodestly at that time of night – an attack on the victim thinly disguised as weak condemnation of the crime they suffered.

    14. John Ross


      You really think not knowing what are many responses in Pakistan to the award of the Nobel Prize helps understand the situation in that country? Seriously?

    15. RhZ

      Great article by RFH.

      After a bit of reflection, I want to point out that the writer’s efforts (which are praised here) are still the same ugly propaganda techniques as always, just with a target we dislike. She deserves no praise for this garbage.

      The cutting comment and casual quote used effectively in the piece, both before and after, are not journalism, which is intended to flesh out a subject, even if a conclusion is reached eventually about the topic, but rather are the pure ugly lies of the propagandist, which is to create a fiction, a lie, for whatever purposes.

      Each of the pieces of commentary is to prejudge or paint a particular action in a particular light; none is to enlighten or inform. Words which blame, or cast in a poor light are always prefered over neutral words.

      John Ross got burned by his master because his master (at least the propaganda people) are fucking stupid and venial people. But who else is going to pay the bills? So he blames some underlings and throws his weight around and gets the lie ‘adjusted’ somewhat for his benefit. Who cares if the swirls on the pile are going the other direction? Its just a transient thing, anyway, easily forgotten tomorrow.

      So, fuck you John Ross for writing incomprehensible tweets and arguing that a dictatorship is somehow more democratic than an actual democratic (if flawed) country, but still definitely fuck Lin Meilian for “earning” her rice by creating garbage. I hope she learns what real journalism is like one day, because she doesn’t probably know now.

    16. John Ross

      For those who wish to deal with reality rather than their own delusions please see Number 1 US magazine on foreign affairs Foreign Policy:

      “in some quarters of Pakistan, Yousafzai has become a symbol of Western interference in the country, and conspiracy theories abound that her story was in fact created by the CIA, which carries out ongoing drone strikes in the northwestern parts of the country. That’s of course far-fetched, but the praise that she has received in the West has been equally matched in her home country. The Peace Prize will certainly elevate her stature — and also increase animus against her in some parts of Pakistan.
      That strain of thought remained alive and well on Friday. “I condemn this decision in the strongest possible words,” Tariq Khattak, an editor at the Pakistan Observer, told the BBC. “It’s a political decision, a motivated one, and a conspiracy to invoke [sic] people in the Muslim countries. And the father of Malala and Malala have done nothing at all. Her father is a good salesman, that’s it. And the daughter has also become a salesgirl. And they are dancing on the tunes of West.”


      • Gilman Grundy (AKA FOARP)

        Most logical people can understand the difference between reporting unreasonable attacks on Malala Yousafazi,a nd saying that they are understandable because of some imagined conspiracy. Not you, apparently.

        And we have let ourselves get side-tracked, haven’t we? Let’s put this simply:

        You refuse to acknowledge that your Chinese ability is so poor that you have to get your assistant to translate tweets for you, yet insult Mark Rowswell (AKA Dashan – the most famous Chinese-speaking foreigner alive) for his imagined lack of Chinese ability. You blab on about how China supposedly has ‘freer’ discourse on economic subjects whilst at the same time censoring reports about you and your views. You attack meaningful democracy as undemocratic, and democracy advocates as paid shills, whilst taking cheques and false praise from one of the most illiberal dictatorships on the planet.

        Just how on Earth do you excuse such mendacious hypocrisy?

    17. Justin Mitchell

      Hullo John Ross,

      Will you please tell me what Malala Yousafzai’s Nobel Peace prize has to do with the original topic here? Taking it further, can you defend the imprisonment of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo.

      Just wondering as well why a fellow of your self-inflated, imaginary international stature has the time and energy to obsessively follow and respond these posts between tonsorial bar code corrections.

    18. King Tubby

      You Cook’s Tour of the so-called left will only end up in despair and personal recrimination.

      Make a strong decision and embrace sex and drugs instead.

      You will develop a sense of self-worth, and yes, I’m waiving your consultation fee.

      Or better still, do an Althusser or off your self like Poulantzas. But it has to be above the 14th floor, okay.

      Your biography is so darn predictable.

      And don’t pretend that you don’t know what I am talking about.

    19. John Ross

      @Justin Mitchell

      You wrote “Will you please tell me what Malala Yousafzai’s Nobel Peace prize has to do with the original topic here?”

      I think it has got nothing to do with it meaningful whatever and if you check the record I did not introduce the subject. Someone else chose to attack what I wrote elsewhere on it so I replied, and I cited similar material to mine from Foreign Policy – the number 1 US foreign affairs magazine. The person who introduced it created the diversion from the discussion not me.

      Not merely do I know that AKA Dashan has superb Chinese language abilities for a non-native Chinese but I have watched him on TV very many times. I therefore consulted 3 separate native Chinese language interpreters to check that what he said had been written had not been written. All confirmed it. I am not questioning his knowledge of Chinese as a foreigner, nor would I be so foolish as to put my knowledge in that field as against his. I simply state that if 3 separate native language Chinese interpreters say that it was not written what was claimed that is conclusive.

      As for discussion of economics, please note that I dealt with this specific issue, discussion in China is much freer than in the West in the mainstream media. It ranges from those advocating immediate total privatisation (e.g. Andy Xie) to people who favour a return to a Maoist planned economy – and includes every position between. This in contrast to the West where the exclusion of any except a narrow range of viewpoints is so notorious that not merely is there now a large scale student rebellion against it but the Financial Times pointed it out http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/f9f65e88-44a3-11e4-ab0c-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3FziInu38 I am entirely prepared to stand by the statement that economic discussion in China in the mass media is freer than in the West.

      A number of people may not wish to deal with the world as it actually is. I do. If they prefer to live in fantasy land, or write ad hominen scatological insults, that it up to them. I prefer to deal with reality – it is not only more important but more interesting

      • Gilman Grundy (AKA FOARP)

        ” I therefore consulted 3 separate native Chinese language interpreters to check that what he said had been written had not been written. All confirmed it. “

        The amazing thing is how you make this statement in the apparent belief that it is a strong defence of you position, without realising just what a devastating admission it actually is. That is, you admit that:

        1) You are not writing the comments that appear on your Weibo account, otherwise you wouldn’t need other people to tell you what they said.

        2) You cannot read Chinese, otherwise you would not need translators to read them for you.

        Taken together these confirm that the original GT piece was substantially true – you cannot speak Chinese, your Weibo account is ghost-written by your assistant – yet you sought to censor these true statements post-publication and have them “de-published” and replaced with self-serving propaganda.

        They also confirm that you are someone who presumed to criticise the Chinese language abilities of the BBC and Mark Rowswell, when you yourself cannot make yourself understood in the language. It confirms the picture RFH draws of you – a shameless hypocrite posing as an expert on a country whose language he cannot even communicate in.

        “discussion in China is much freer than in the West in the mainstream media. It ranges from those advocating immediate total privatisation (e.g. Andy Xie) to people who favour a return to a Maoist planned economy – and includes every position between.”

        I am tempted to simply say “how would you know, when by your own admission you cannot read Chinese?”, but this would be letting you off too easily.

        The truth is, in the UK you can read everyone from Marxists like Seumas Milne, to pro-nationalisation left-wingers like Aditya Chakrabortty, to centre-left-wing Labour stalwarts like Polly Toynbee, to Keynesians like Will Hutton, to right-wingers like Anatole Kaletsky. Unlike China, however, no commentators has to worry about being arrested simply because they criticised government policy, but what’s much more important, you can also vote for whoever you like, from the SWP to the BNP. Unlike China, you can vote for anyone you like – anyone from Tommy Sheridan to George Galloway to Nigel Farage can hold office in the UK, whereas your options in China are limited to one.

        Also true is, no major paper in the UK can be forced to simply de-publish substantially true statements about someone as you did, without comment, without even noting that it was done, and replace them wholesale with unctuous propaganda.

        “I prefer to deal with reality”

        Today would be a good day to start doing so, then. Why don’t we start with what you actually did – using your influence as a paid-for shill in the service of a dictatorship to censor an article about yourself?

    20. John Ross

      @Gilman Grundy

      Your claims are simply false.

      1. Being translated is not the same as ‘ghost written’. If you have ever read Goethe’s Sorrows of Young Werther, for example, unless you speak German, you have read a translation. Does this mean Goethe had a ‘ghost writer’ – no he had a translator.

      I have been published in several languages, some I can read some I cannot. If I am published in French I can read it. But I have also been published in Spanish which I can’t read. Does that mean the French version is real but the Spanish version is ‘ghost written’? Evidently not – they are translations, not ‘ghost writing’.

      The situation on my weibo has been explained entirely publicly on my weibo itself. I write 100% of it English myself, translators translate it into Chinese. That is known as translation, not ghost writing.

      2. My claim to expertise is in economics, not the Chinese language. I wrote in 1992, for example, an article stating that the economic reforms in China would be successful and those in Russia would not http://ablog.typepad.com/keytrendsinglobalisation/1992/04/index.html . Certainly 90% of Western economists held the opposite view. But facts proved I was right and they were wrong.

      Similarly I quoted the characterisation made of my economics writing by Gavyn Davies, former Chief Economist of Goldman Sachs and Chairman of the BBC “John Ross’ widely respected blog” – http://blogs.ft.com/gavyndavies/2013/12/30/three-big-macro-questions-for-2014/ Whereas the writer on Global Times chose to quote Nick Cohen, a rightwing political writer. It is evident Which view should be taken more seriously on economics.

      3.I use extremely good native Chinese language interpreters to translate to Chinese but, after the issue was raised, because I was concerned something might have been mistranslated, I had two other native Chinese language interpreters check it. Both independently confirmed that what akaDashan said I had said had not been written. I am sorry but if 3 separate Chinese speakers confirm something was not said that is conclusive.

      3. I simply restate my view on economic discussion in China and the West, but it is really not the point. The reason I have supported the overall course of China’s economic policy is that China lifting 630 million people out of poverty is the greatest single contribution to human rights made by any country in the world. It is because people like yourself and the author of the original article cannot reply to this point that they try to discuss a whole series of other things instead.

      4. As for my expertise on the Chinese economy I simply return to the starting point. In 1992 I predicted China’s economic reform would be an economic success and shock therapy in Russia would be a disaster. 90% of Western economists disagreed. Who turned out to be more correct (a bigger expert if you want to put it that way) – I did. I realise that you cannot reply to that, as the writing is entirely public, which is why you want to discuss ‘ghost writing’ and other things which are (i) completely trivial in comparison to lifting 630 million people out of poverty and the economic policy which has produced that (ii) untrue (the first being far more important than the second incidentally)

      • FOARP

        “Being translated is not the same as ‘ghost written’.”

        Indeed it is not. This may shock you, John, but amongst the myriad differences between you and Goethe in terms of talent and learning, is the fact that Goethe never sought to lecture his fellow Germans on their poor English ability and pass off English-language commentary that he could not even understand as his own.

        In this case, what is going on IS ghost-writing since the Chinese-language output is (one hopes) not your own, due to the hateful and acist content it has included – including your talk of ‘eggs’ and ‘bananas’. Your attempt to hide the fact that this was going on by getting it censored from the GT article, and pose as a Chinese-speaker by lecturing Dashan and the BBC (amongst many others) on Chinese, is the most shameful kind of hypocrisy.

        ” I wrote in 1992, for example, an article stating that the economic reforms in China would be successful”

        Yes, along with a large body of other economists (including the growth projections put forward in The Economist, and reproduced in Paul Kennedy’s 1987 book, The Rise and Fall of Great Powers) you predicted China’s economic growth. Well done. Now what exactly does this have to do with the accusation that you used your position to censored accurate reporting about yourself, reporting that included the statement (which you now admit was accurate) that you could not speak Chinese, and that you Chinese-language Weibo was written by your assistant?

        “The reason I have supported the overall course of China’s economic policy is that China lifting 630 million people out of poverty is the greatest single contribution to human rights made by any country in the world”

        You talk as though you were personally responsible for this. Again, the picture drawn in RFH’s article of a hubristic egomaniac is confirmed, and the accuracy of his piece supported.

        “I am sorry but if 3 separate Chinese speakers confirm something was not said that is conclusive.”

        I’m sorry, but if your assistant actually did write the phrase “banana” on your Weibo account, then I don’t need a translator to tell me that you have been allowing racist and hateful language to go out under your by-line – but then I bothered to learn Chinese before giving opinions on it.

        Simple question John: If (as you now admit) the original GT piece was accurate in its portrayal of you as a non-Chinese speaker whose Chinese commentary is written for him by his assistant, why did you have it censored in the first place?

      • jixiang

        It seems like your reply to every argument about China is simply: “China lifted 630 million people out of poverty. Everything else is trivial”.

        You claimed that there is more freedom to discuss economic issues in China than in the West. FOARP rightly pointed out that this is untrue. However many people have been “lifted out of poverty” in China, it doesn’t excuse making untrue statements of this sort.

          • jixiang

            Some questions are most certainly not trivial. For instance, would the Chinese economy not have grown at a comparable speed even under a more democratic political system? And are all those people who’ve been lifted out of poverty (ie. they now have an income higher than 1$ a day. It might be 5$ a day, and they might still be living in filthy, polluted hellhole) really happier and better off because of it?

    21. Mark Rowswell "Dashan"

      Isn’t this a lively discussion!

      Free from the 140-character constraint, shall I explain:

      The “banana & egg” analogy is fundamentally racist because it evaluates people’s viewpoint by the colour of their skin. “Bananas” are white people with a yellow man’s “heart” while “eggs” are yellow people with the “heart” of a white man. It is true that many Chinese use this expression in a benign way without intending to be racist. As with all forms of latent racism, if you simply ask someone “are you racist” the answer will always be “no”.

      John’s Weibo is a good example of how he’s not simply using translators to spread his message. In fact it’s a group of (or just one?) angry young Chinese who are using John to spread their messages through him. Through translation, John clearly only has a superficial understanding of his own Weibo. The Weibo is full of colloquial expressions and trendy lingo (like 蓝翔) that John would never be able to come up with by himself.

      The context and intended message of the “banana & egg” Weibo is clear for any native speaker of Chinese. “Heart” in this sense refers to toeing the Party Line. John, as a white man who strictly adheres to CCP orthodoxy, is much more useful than overseas Chinese like Gary Locke who dare to think independently and hold a viewpoint that deviates from that of the Chinese government.

      It’s not about economics, John. Personally, I find your economic “insights” rather conventional and predictable. Nothing much to discuss there. It’s about language and cross-cultural communication, feeding bigotry in China and lending these forces an image of respectability.

      John, I understand the adulation you receive by feeding conventional bigotry can be quite intoxicating, the web thrives on this sort of mindless anger and resentment. I also understand that it can be difficult for a man in your position to find gainful employment and recognition elsewhere. Believe me, I do. Many people say the same about me. But at least I try to do something constructive with the opportunities I’m given.

      • Jonathan Alpart

        Great point about how much power and influence lies in the hands of the translator when the source has zero competency in the language.

        Speaking of translation, mind telling us what 蓝翔 means? =)

    22. John Ross

      @Mark Rowswell “Dashan”

      Yes much better to discuss without 140 character limits!

      The point is the following. I have made no claim to expertise in the Chinese language whatever and my weibo has explained on several occasions that I write 100% of the posts in English without any ghost writing (which is entirely true) and that they are translated into Chinese by an intepreter (which is also true). You can easily verify this. Where I claim expertise is in economics. In 1992 to predict China’s economic reform would be successful and shock therapy in Russia would be a disaster was to go against 90% (actually probably more) of Western economic opinion but I was correct http://ablog.typepad.com/keytrendsinglobalisation/1992/04/index.html Do I claim greater expertise on that than those who predicted the reverse? Yes – don’t you think analyses should be judged against what actually then happened? I thought that was the only way to judge theories?

      The claim my economic analysis has anything to do with the CCP is really humorous. To put it on record, when I started writing on China’s economy, and the article published in 1992 started being drafted in 1991, I had never met anyone from China and had no contact with it, direct or indirect, whatever. The analysis was based on issues of economic theory – as anyone reading it or subsequent writings can find out. To my knowledge the first time I ever met anyone, or had direct or indirect contact, with anyone from Mainland China was in 2004 – in a work meeting with the Mayor of Shanghai. I started working in China in 2009. It is self evident that when I started writing about China’s economy I could not foresee that 17 years later I would work in China. Do some Chinese economists find it interesting that someone who had absolutely no contact with them analysed why China’s economic reform would succeed and the West’s shock therapy in Russia would fail? Yes they do. Wouldn’t you if you were an economist?

      Do not confuse knowledge of the Chinese language with knowledge of economics. There are some Chinese speaking economists who believed shock therapy would be more successful than China’s economic model – their economic analysis turned out to be wrong even although their knowledge of Chinese was 100% fluent (being native speakers).

      I know perfectly well your knowledge of Chinese is much greater than mine, but with due respect my knowledge of economics is much greater than yours.

      PS I greatly liked your CCTV programme teaching Chinese and very much regret it no longer appears.

    23. Justin Mitchell

      Mark (Dashan)I agree with what you’ve written here but have a simple question regarding banana and egg. I’m an older American with some experience living and working in China, HK, Korea and Thailand. When I was in my 20s in the ’70′s in the US banana and egg in a racial context meant the reverse: banana a yellow skin and white heart. Egg was a person with white skin and Asian heart.

      Do you or any others know when and why the meanings flipped, or was it just a US thing? I’m no expert but fascinated by linguistic turns, twists and travels.
      Thank you.

      • Mark Rowswell "Dashan"

        Oops, that’s just a typo on my part. Sorry. Banana = yellow skin, white inside; egg = white skin, yellow inside.

    24. John Ross

      @Justin Mitchell

      I think Mark made a mistake. My understanding is that they have the original meaning you referred to in the 1970s in Korea, Thailand, China etc

    25. Jusrin Mitchell

      I think Mark is entirely capable of answering my question on this own, thank you. It was not meant as a personal attack on you or your misguided views, btw.

      It was only a simple question regarding linguistics which he is entirely more capable of answering rather than yourself. The more you write, the more rope you give to hang yourself.

    26. King Tubby

      I know. I know.

      Its a hard gig, but you have now been elevated to the Inner Circle…. Shaun Rein, Mitch Mosely, CDE, the HH posse, etc.

      To be honest, I am really fucking envious.

      My mum always told me I would be a failure.

    27. John Ross


      Can you please read articles you are supposed to be defending before you write them – it will lead to fewer mistakes. There is no discussion, not one word, of whether I can speak Chinese in the Global Times article.

      As for the claim I have pretended I can speak Chinese this is risible. This is my weibo on 30 April 2012 (two and a half years ago) and repeated since : “No i don’t have a ghost writer. All the English words are by me. But I have to use an interpreter to translate into Chinese” Do you attempt to conceal something by posting it online in front of millions of people and when I have more than 200,000 followers on weibo myself?

      Naturally when akaDashan said I had written something I had not written I had it checked – as I very frequently discuss in great detail with translators. I know I use very high quality native Chinese speaking interpreters but I initially read it myself using translation software for overall sense. I carefully checked with the original interpreter to make sure there was no ambiguity in Chinese which meant it said what akaDashan said. I then sent it to two other native Chinese language interpreters – being careful not to inform them of the opinion of anyone else. They both confirmed the Chinese did not say what akaDashan said.

      akaDashan is well known to have outstanding Chinese language abilities for someone not Chinese. But if three native language Chinese interpreters independently say in this case it did not say what he said that is clear.

      The Global Times article did however merely quote a right wing Observer political columnist on my economic writing rather than material I have already quoted at length. That is what is known in journalism as a cheap hatchet job. For why it was a cheap hatchet job please read my earlier responses.

      I am well aware that when my economic analysis is shown to be more accurate than other peoples an attempt is made to try to change the subject – so I have been through this process before.

      But I repeat, please read what you are attempting to defend before writing and you will make fewer errors.

    28. LOL

      First of all, I have to point out that even as a Chinese I have rarely seen such all-positive remarks on China’s economy made by domestic experts. And it seems that as a foreigner with high professionalism, Mr. Ross is really of a befriended kind of attitude towards our nation, to which we are appreciated. But, how much honesty lies here remains a suspicion. I searched that GT article mentioned, its contents comprise almost half of Mr. Ross quotes, of course, complimentary generally. Chinese people love to hear those of course, especially from a respectable expert. And from this respect, China is really a lucrative land as long as you know when to say what.
      Although he denied that and tried to justify himself by claiming that he was a victim from suppression of information and selective quotation, did he aware how feeble the justification was in front of the benefits all around he has gained in China.

      • RhZ

        Yes, his justification is quite feeble, and I am sure the benefits he has received quite outweigh any value he has provided.

        At least now, when his reputation is somewhere near the septic tank.


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