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News Corp support for Chinese human rights abuses

By enterfornone in News
Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 11:09:02 AM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)

Many companies have been guilty of ignoring human rights abuses, however James Murdoch, son of News Corp chairman Rupert and head of News Corp's asian operations, has recently outdone his peers by actively supporting China's violations of human rights.

According to this article he has stated that critics of Chinese rule are "failing to understand the complexities of the country" and pro-democracy advocates should learn to "put up" with life under Beijing.

Among other things, Murdoch claims that the Falun Gong religion is a "apocalyptic cult". Many Falun Gong practitioners have been jailed and killed since China declared the religion illegal in 1999.

Other human rights abuses Chinese residents are forced to "put up" with include torture by tax collectors and birth control officials and imprisonment for attempting to form labor unions. You can find more listed on the Amnesty site.

Murdoch's motives are obvious, News Corp stands to make a fortune if they can break into China and to do so they need to have the Chinese government on their side.

Even though we expect human rights to be low on the priority lists of most companies, it disturbs me that a person would be willing to publicly advocate such human rights abuses in the name of the almighty dollar.


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News Corp support for Chinese human rights abuses | 38 comments (32 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
*sigh* (3.28 / 7) (#1)
by pope nihil on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 01:59:27 AM EST

I gave up on people a long time ago. Almost everyone is willing to do almost anything for the right amount of money. This should hardly be surprising. A sad commentary on the priorities of people, but not surprising.

I voted.

Yellow Journalism (3.00 / 5) (#2)
by Keslin on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 02:05:26 AM EST

Being part Asian, I feel a little guilty about this pun, but News Corp pandering to the Chinese government smacks of yellow journalism.

Yes, okay, I apologize for the really bad racist pun, but I just have to point out that this looks to me like a variant on the yellow journalism tactics originally developed by William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer during the Spanish American war. Slanting the public perception in the name of making a buck is a fine tradition in journalism.

-Keslin, the naked nerd girl.

Falun Gong, US hypocrisy and Western biases (3.11 / 17) (#3)
by Rick Stevens on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 02:33:13 AM EST

I don't understand how you can defend Falun Gong in your writeup. You adopt the common US position that the cult is benign and is unfairly persecuted by the Chinese government. This is so wrong that I hardly know where to start.

First, the Falun Gong issue is a Chinese internal matter, and, as such, the US has no right to interfere.

Second, Falun Gong is indeed a dangerous cult, as the Chinese government claims. It makes ludicrous claims that are harmful to those who have been brainwashed into joining. Just ask the poor cult members who believed they would go to heaven for setting themselves on fire in Tiananmen Square.

Third, the US is well-known for treating its own cults the same way. Look at the Waco incident with the Branch Davidians for proof. In fact, in light of the recent Falun Gong self-immolations, the Branch Davidians and Falun Gong seem almost eerily similar.

Personally, I find Murdoch's statement to be a ray of hope from our normally terribly prejudiced West. Our common Western insinuation that the Chinese cannot properly govern their own country falls barely short of racism. China does not attempt to interfere in the affairs of Western nations, and I would urge those of us living in the West to follow China's lead.

Falun Gong (3.83 / 6) (#4)
by DoubleEdd on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 03:02:25 AM EST

I have seen Falun Gong campaigning for new members near me, and in some ways I'm starting to get concerned that they are using their persecution to attract members. This may be unfair on my part, but it does get them a disproportionate amount of publicity, which I find a little disconcerting.

Being wronged against does not make you right.

[ Parent ]

Who said interfere? (4.30 / 10) (#5)
by elenchos on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 03:24:28 AM EST

Murdoch is being criticized for serving Chinese propaganda interests in pursuit of profits, at the expense of objective news reporting. Yet he wants consumers to buy his product because it is reliable journalism? Sounds like false advertising if nothing else.

The US treatment of the Branch Davidians needs to be called a case of government persecution, which it is to many people, if there is no proof that they were a "dangerous" cult. Same thing with Fulan Gong. So then, just what makes them "dangerous?"

I don't know what is so unusual about a religion making ridiculous claims, or using martyrs to attract members. Christianity does that all the time. You should hear them go on about the martydom of that Jesus guy as a ploy to get sympathy. It's shameless, I tell you.

[ Parent ]

Re: Falun Gong (4.60 / 5) (#6)
by Jebediah on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 03:39:16 AM EST

I don't know if the Falun Gong is a dangerous cult or not. I don't think that really matters in this case. Suppose you were a Branch Dividian member. Does that automatically mean you should be jailed and/or killed?

[ Parent ]
internal? (4.66 / 3) (#7)
by danny on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 05:23:54 AM EST

the Falun Gong issue is a Chinese internal matter, and, as such, the US has no right to interfere.

Like Catholicism is an Italian "internal matter"?

[900 book reviews and other stuff]
[ Parent ]

The communist party is the dangerous cult (3.50 / 2) (#23)
by MeBCliff on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 02:37:40 PM EST

The chinese communist party seems to think it has a right to rule over China without ever submitting itself to free elections.

Furthermore, it seems to think it has the right to extend by force this rule over the free people of Taiwan if they don't submit volintarily.

It beleves that its power is so important, that it can attack protestors with tanks and machine guns if it feels threatened, and that individuals can be arrested, beaten, sentanced to long prison terms in labor camps and even killed because they had the audacity to have their own ideas.

The danger Falun Gong is nothing compared to clut known as the CPC.

[ Parent ]
falun gong (5.00 / 1) (#25)
by enterfornone on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 05:51:49 PM EST

Second, Falun Gong is indeed a dangerous cult, as the Chinese government claims. It makes ludicrous claims that are harmful to those who have been brainwashed into joining. Just ask the poor cult members who believed they would go to heaven for setting themselves on fire in Tiananmen Square.
Falun Gong claim that they are against suicide and that this particular incident was staged by the Chinese government. I can't say for sure since I only ever saw it reported in a Falun Gong newsletter. From what I've seen of Falun Gong (I agree that they do seem to be recruiting a lot lately) they don't do much other than meditate.

According to missionaries I've spoken to Christians in China are also being jailed and tortured, I didn't mention that since I couldn't find any recent reports on the web.

efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]

Rose tinted glasses (4.00 / 1) (#26)
by trhurler on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 05:58:59 PM EST

Your central point, which is that we should not interfere in China, is belied by several issues.

First off, yes, they DO interfere here. They illegally donate money to political campaigns, they bribe companies to lobby on their behalf, they have an aggressive foriegn espionage program, and so on. The idea that they're some kind of innocents just minding their own business is so ludicrous I can't believe you have the gall to mention it. Was it "racism," as you so asininely put it, when the Chinese gave Clinton several million dollars for his reelection campaign? If so, against which race, precisely? Arkansas rednecks, I suppose.

Second, there are two kinds of US entities here. The US government can meddle all it wants, because it ignores its own charter; if you want it to obey in this case, then you logically must also demand that it obey in all others, which likely wouldn't suit your obviously leftist tendencies too well... Then there's non-governmental entities. People and corporations. These can have whatever opinion they like, and spend their money however they like, and that's their right. You can call them racists if you like; after all, racism and being horrified at reports of people having their genitals ripped off as a means of torture are pretty much the same thing, right?

Third, regardless of their situation, no government which does not uphold basic human rights, or at least TRY sincerely and consistently to do so, has any legitimacy whatsoever, regardless of the case, and as such, there's no moral high ground to be held here. Nobody is "right" or "wrong" except insofar as he works towards the day when our governments will understand that we're more important than they are; soveriegnty and so on are specious arguments advanced by statists.

All that said, why don't you go over there and maybe they'll rip off your nads, which will save us all from any reproductive efforts you might make in the future. If you can paint this rosy a picture of the "Peoples' Republic," then who knows what sort of fucked up indoctrinated loser kids you'd produce...

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Criticizing the regime is racism? (4.00 / 1) (#29)
by error 404 on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 07:06:24 PM EST

The Chinese are perfectly capable of govorning their country. They apparently are not able, at the moment, to overthrow the regime that currently holds the weapons and infrastructure. Not because the Chinese are somehow inferior as people, but because of the size and power and disregard for life of the regime.

I suppose I am a bit close-minded in considering a govornment based on open communication and the consent of the govorned to be superior to one based on censoring and killing anyone who objects. Excuse me.

I would point out, though, that the current regime is not a Chinese form of govornment. It is an adaptation of a bad European form of govornment. Certainly China can do better than that.

Murdoch will say whatever he thinks will get him market share. Any resemblance to what he thinks is true is pure coincidence. Filtering the BS, all he's really saying is that he thinks he can sell more ads hiring propaganda conduits than he can hiring journalists. Insincere flattery is not a ray of hope.

Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]

News Corp is a nasty company (4.37 / 8) (#9)
by nobbystyles on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 08:02:09 AM EST

It plays politics wherever it goes. In the UK it has a dominant postion in the media through its ownership of the Sun, The New Of The World, The Times and the Sunday Times newspapers and British Sky Broadcasting (the major satellite broadcaster). Three out of the four newspapers are market leaders in their particular sectors.

When Blair first became leader of the British Labour party, he went out to meet Murdoch and other News Corp executives in Queensland. No one knows what was discussed at that meeting but the Sun (the biggest selling daily paper in the UK) at the 1997 election changed its political stance from Conservative to Labour. I strongly suspect that Blair promised News Corp that the competition authorities under his government would not investigate his monopolistic practices in relation to TV and Newspapers. Also News Corp has paid very little tax in the UK despite the UK being its most profitable market. Smells fishy to me...

In China News Corp has been sucking up to aauthorities for years. This is merely the most blatant attempt to butter up the Chinese so they can broadcast their crappy TV to a billion people.

More complex than good guys and bad guys (3.00 / 4) (#10)
by tumeric on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 08:23:01 AM EST

It saddens me to say it, but I think I would rather be living in China at the moment than free Russia just as Tito's Yugoslavia would be a better home than a lot of that region now. Also this is not the China of the cultural revolution, it is better and improving.

Personally, I would say that critics are "failing to understand the complexities of the country" and failing to see the shortcomings in their own systems which have to deal with far less people over a much more stable timeframe.

Not the first time (4.33 / 3) (#14)
by Vulch on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 09:41:16 AM EST

The Murdoch empire has a history of avoiding any hint of offence towards China. In 1998 Harper Collins, a publishing company owned by the group, decided not to publish a book by Chris Patten, the last governor of Hong Kong. A quick search on Google gives a large number of hits.


Looking closer (3.75 / 4) (#15)
by slaytanic killer on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 10:26:59 AM EST

From the Sydney Morning Times article:
However, his early approaches to Beijing proved disastrous. In 1993 he boasted that satellite television provided "an unambiguous threat to totalitarian regimes everywhere".

The Chinese Government's reaction was to ban people from owning satellite dishes. Since then he has striven to ingratiate himself with Beijing.

His efforts have reaped dividends.
This does not sound like the actions of an evil man to me. Rather, it looks like those of someone who learns.

Is it possible for someone to say what she thinks, then when she realizes that saying it was a problem, keeps her conviction to herself while saying something different?

Public View (none / 0) (#20)
by Woundweavr on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 11:44:24 AM EST

It is true that its possible these arent the Murdoch family's real viewpoint here. However, it does still throw support to the Chinese government. Rupert Murdoch, and his son by assosciation, are powerful men and men who are generally seen as inteligent(as far as it goes). People who see this statement, especially those predisposed to support the reigning government of any nation rather than rebels, might take on this opinion. Of course, thats the whole reason the Chinese government will look favorably on it.

[ Parent ]
However... (5.00 / 2) (#21)
by slaytanic killer on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 12:19:28 PM EST

Increased trade and communication may be more lethal to China's philosophies than to the Western countries. In this light, it is sort of capitalizing on some Chinese officials' short-sightedness to bring the poison closer.

I think it is a non-trivial problem. It could very well change the rest of us for the worse if we cozy up to people we think commit atrocities. But on the other hand, as I mentioned on my editorial (editorials can be seen if the View is set to All Comments), we're getting a biased newspaper's reports about a biased news company. Are we being played?

We need more information to tell Murdoch's intentions, and how things really are in China.

[ Parent ]
and your point is? (none / 0) (#31)
by dash2 on Wed Mar 28, 2001 at 01:17:28 PM EST

This does not sound like the actions of an evil man to me. Rather, it looks like those of someone who learns.

Is it possible for someone to say what she thinks, then when she realizes that saying it was a problem, keeps her conviction to herself while saying something different?

Er, yeah, he's learnt to keep silent about human rights abuses so as to make more money in China. Sounds like you think this makes him the possessor of some kind of Zen wisdom. I think it makes him a greedy capitalist shit who's more interested in his own bloated wallet than other people's suffering. I quit buying Murdoch's papers when he made his remarks about the Dalai Lama, along similar lines.

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal.
[ Parent ]

what do you expect? (4.33 / 3) (#18)
by Seumas on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 11:07:35 AM EST

Why should you expect a corporation to treat China any differently than the United States government? The previous administration seemed to forget and ignore all of the horrendous things the Chinese government does and has done to its own people (of course, monitary contributions to ones campaign can tend to do that), so you certainly can't expect a corporation to treat China much differently.

It's okay to stand up for the people suffering attrocities of their own government as long as there isn't any chance to make money off of that country. In the case of China, there's cash to be found, so the attrocities are okay.
I just read K5 for the articles.

Two Sides (3.40 / 5) (#19)
by Woundweavr on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 11:39:11 AM EST

At my first glance, Jimbo Murdoch's position seems pretty stupid, as the article no doubt intended. However, upon further reflection it seems to make more sense.

It is to his advantage to support China's government so as to further his market share in that nation. Something from Rupert wouldn't be subtle enough and would attract too much attention unlikely to find sympathy in the West.

Also the Falun Gong are not the best people. They are pretty cultish and provoke actions my members that are insane(setting themselves on fire etc) to help weaken this regime. It is the tendancy in the US, formerly with the USSR and now with China, to think the enemy of my enemy is my friend, therefore they can't be bad. China is now the US's chief rival for superpower status (with apologies to the EU) and also happens to be Communist. Thus the US media and public ignore the bad sides of those who oppose China, such as the Falun Gong and the Dali Lama's regime (they were actually a totalitarian theocracy that left its people worse off than China).

However, it remains that The People's Republic of China has committed many acts that are internationally illegal to repress dissidents. Basic rights are denied, including or perhaps especially free expression. Military force has been used on civilian protestors. Its like a Kent State every year or so. Whether other nations should interfer with China is another debate.

I think both the Murdochs are blinded by their desire for profit in this case. They deceive themselves by thinking that since the Faln Gong arent as good as they are portrayed, the Chinese government cant be all that bad.

"setting themselves on fire etc" (4.00 / 2) (#22)
by Demona on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 12:48:23 PM EST

Unless it can be proven that one party had undue influence over another and was therefore directly responsible for getting them to commit an act, we all have the right to self-immolate. The Falun Gong could be the equivalent of the Scientologists, or they could be the Branch Davidians. And for that kind of detail, nothing beats first hand experience. At this time, all my knowledge consists of anecdotes, media spin and possible propaganda from all sides. I hope to better that situation, as with any subject I'm interested in.

[ Parent ]
leadership (none / 0) (#34)
by exotherm on Wed Mar 28, 2001 at 07:28:44 PM EST

The Falun Gong could be the equivalent of the Scientologists, or they could be the Branch Davidians.

I don't know about you but I don't think the leader of the Falun Gong movement has ever made a public statement concerning the self-immolations that occurred. That tells me he's either a con-artist using the proceeds from his "religion" to live comfortably in New York while his followers are persecuted, or he believes saying anything might make the situation worse.
Those who can are driven mad by those who can't.
[ Parent ]

Just a thought (2.00 / 2) (#24)
by weirdling on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 05:07:17 PM EST

It is possible that someone closer to the action in China would have a better view and thus would consider the Chinese government to be an acceptable form of government; after all, the Chinese put up with it, so it can't be all that bad, but on closer inspection, given this man's history, it seems to me he is blowing smoke for political advantage, but that's ok, too, because he joins a large group of Chinese sycophants, such as William Jefferson Clinton and friends.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
good point (none / 0) (#27)
by enterfornone on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 05:59:40 PM EST

I mean the blacks in southern USA put up with slavery for so long, so it can't have been that bad. Shame on those white guys in the north for outlawing it.

efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
Well known fact (4.00 / 1) (#28)
by weirdling on Tue Mar 27, 2001 at 06:34:07 PM EST

Slaves in the South tended to rebel only when oppressed too greatly. This has been true of slaves throughout the ages. That somehow a few people could hold concentrated power over many is manifest idiocy. People forget that the US was under the thumb of the Great British Empire, which was in decline, but by no means ended as a world power, when she gained her independance from England, and did so by violent force, losing many lives, and having to fight her own countrymen as much as the British, as there were a lot of British sympathisers, most of whom ended up in Canada. How's that for a long sentence.
The fact is that the masses in any country is where the power is concentrated, and wise dictators understand this, hence the mass-placating tendency of rhetoric in most dictatorships, where a common evil must be fought and thus locals must be engaged in the common good of the country. A significant majority must either buy into this or must be willing to accept the status quo rather than fight it, or the whole thing would collapse.
It is an unwise person, indeed, who meddles too much in another country's domestic situation, as it is almost impossible to figure out what needs to be done when one is not near the situation.
That people are pretty morally hepped up about this thing is a good indication, to me, that nothing should be done, because *nothing* good ever came out of something done for purely moral reasons.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Another well known fact (4.00 / 1) (#33)
by exotherm on Wed Mar 28, 2001 at 07:22:32 PM EST

Before the Communist takeover, China was all-f*cked-up. Look at their recent history and you'll see a country with more issues than those Columbine kids. If you track the progress the Communists made within the country, you'll see vast improvements in the standard of living among other things. Remember all those stories about how your dad/grandpa had to scavenge for food or some other act depicting impoverishment during the Great Depression? I'll let you in on something; General Yang, the guy who supported the crackdown on the student protesters at Tienenmen (sp?), was born into a generation where people faired far worse than those stories you'd hear about the Depression. He is quoted as effectively saying, during the crackdown, that those students were literally spoiled to think the government should provide more "freedoms" (sorry, can't remember the exact wording) after all that the older generation struggled to give them. I don't intend to determine whether his decision to promote the crackdown was right or wrong, but I do understand his feelings were more akin to the "tough love" traditional parents would give their kids.
Those who can are driven mad by those who can't.
[ Parent ]
South Africa (4.66 / 3) (#30)
by Ray Chason on Wed Mar 28, 2001 at 02:55:11 AM EST

Suppose anyone had dared to claim that critics of apartheid were "failing to understand the complexities of the country." They'd have been tarred and feathered.

But were the sanctions not interference with the internal affairs of South Africa? Were they not specifically intended to drive the National Party from power so the ANC could take over?

Why is Chinese apartheid any more justifiable than the South African kind? Is it because the masters are the same color as the slaves in this case?

Or is it the established religion of the USA, the one that worships a paper god with George Washington's portrait on the front?
The War on Terra is not meant to be won.
Delendae sunt RIAA, MPAA et Windoze

Padre, Fili, et Lucrus Sanctus (none / 0) (#38)
by scruffyMark on Tue Apr 03, 2001 at 03:01:32 AM EST

I think you hit it on the head with that one - Cuba is to be excluded from the FTAA talks for failure to be sufficiently democratic, but China has most favoured trading nation status with the US, and the Canadian Prime Minister just got back from a trade mission there. To say nothing of all the other non- or only barely democratic countries in S. America that happen to cowtow to the US when asked...

Ever notice that modern churches are getting less and less grand, and modern banks more and more so? Tells ya something, eh?

[ Parent ]

I've got an idea (4.00 / 1) (#32)
by wiredog on Wed Mar 28, 2001 at 01:29:18 PM EST

Let's make a movie about them. With a plot that's something like "Evil news corporation provokes war for fun and profit" with a SuperSpy Hero that saves the day by killing the Evil Capitalist.

Or has that been done?

The idea of a global village is wrong, it's more like a gazillion pub bars.

OT Re: your sig (none / 0) (#35)
by streetlawyer on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 02:16:04 AM EST

The average American actually has slightly less than one breast and slightly less than one testicle. You have to factor in people who have had mastectomies and orchidectomies.

Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
I rounded (none / 0) (#37)
by wiredog on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 12:09:13 PM EST

I rounded my numbers to the nearest whole integer.

The idea of a global village is wrong, it's more like a gazillion pub bars.
[ Parent ]

insider (3.50 / 2) (#36)
by benhmm on Fri Mar 30, 2001 at 10:04:30 AM EST

well, I work for a News Corp paper (I'm the technology reporter for The Times) and I've lived in China for a couple of years, so I'm vaguely knowlegable about both. I have a few observations: firstly, it's an annoying, but popular, habit to confuse the views of the proprietor with that of the paper with that of the journalist. If I had a quid for everytime so one accuses me of writing something because Rupert had called me up personally and told me what to think... Secondly, this is business: it is entirely probable that James is saying this in order to curry favour with the Beijing authority...does this make it right? No - but it doesn't mean he's personally all bad. And if a deal to put Satellite TV into China results, then much good may come from that. Put those together and you have more of an argument that asks whether a media-outlet-owner should be responsible for the political correctness of his/her comments. I don't think so. You might not agree with what they say, just as you might not agree with the voices of certain newspapers. The point is, you don't have to listen to them. I don't believe that in these days of Media Studies, and postmodernist irony, that the average punter doesn't understand that they are not forced to believe everything that is written in paper. As for China, the Human Rights stuff is nasty...but after living there and travelling around the place a lot, well...a revolution would be much nastier. The current regime, and the one before with Deng, understand this: they were all imprisoned and tortured during the last student uprising. Hell, Deng's son was crippled by Red Guards. I don't condone their actions by any means, but you can understand why they think and act as they do: they think it is for the best.

News Corp support for Chinese human rights abuses | 38 comments (32 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
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