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About James Reynolds

James Reynolds | 18:20 UK time, Tuesday, 29 April 2008

I've been the BBC's Beijing correspondent since November 2006. I've choked on pollution, had maggots for dinner, been humiliated at ping pong, used binoculars to pick out China's identically dressed leaders, been interrogated by policemen in dark glasses, and had Chairman Mao's grandson jump down the steps of the Great Hall of the People to avoid being interviewed by me.

I joined the BBC on a trainee scheme in 1997 straight after university (Cambridge - where I studied French and Spanish). The BBC was the best option after I failed in earlier attempts to become a dictionary maker and a theatre director. (I also once set up a language school that received no inquiries whatsoever.)

I spent the next year working for the BBC in the East Midlands, and then in June 1998 I was sent to South America to run the BBC's one-man bureau in Santiago, Chile. After predicting early on that Chile's former military leader Augusto Pinochet would never be arrested, I then found myself spending the next several years reporting on his arrest and trial. (I learned never to make any more predictions after that.) I also spent time in the rest of Latin America covering earthquakes, elections and coups. Evo Morales (now the president of Bolivia) once invited me to chew coca leaves with him. And a Colombian rebel commander wearing wellington boots told me over some orange squash that his Marxist guerrillas would win the war.

After that, the BBC sent me to Jerusalem for five years. I spent much of this time in the back of the BBC armoured car, wearing a flak jacket and helmet, trying to report on bombs and incursions. I was taught how to live for several days in a plastic tent in the event of chemical or biological war (the bathroom instructions were not fun.) I interviewed Yasser Arafat - who kept on shouting at me to remember that I was speaking to General Arafat (how could I forget?) I ended my time in the Middle East watching Hezbollah's rockets fall onto the rooftops of northern Israel.

Then, in November 2006, I came to China...


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  • 1. At 6:31pm on 30 Apr 2008, antimatterbomb wrote:

    Oh yeah...I remembered! You are the great 'prophet' who predicted the CCP propaganda muppet (namely the CCTV) would never show any images of the protests during the torch relay in London!

    Truely nice work! And a China-expert like you surely know that how we chinese people 'LOVE' to see those bald old guys having endless meetings in the 7 o'clock news while we are having dinner at home or doing shopping on the street!

    Well, my best wishes to you and keep up the good work!

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  • 2. At 7:26pm on 30 Apr 2008, northernlotus wrote:

    Hello James,
    In other words, you have no formal education or training on China. How much do you know about Chinese history, politics, culture, etc?
    I am really surprised that BBC would send you to China; I thought BBC would have sent someone with more knowledge and background of Asian history, etc.

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  • 3. At 8:11pm on 30 Apr 2008, sirFranzzz wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 4. At 8:28pm on 30 Apr 2008, maijajohnstone wrote:

    I am wondering if Jame Reynolds is one of those reporters who never actually steps out of his luxury hotel...

    500,000 cats are being rounded up and left to die in appalling conditions by the Chinese authorities under the pretext that the animals are spreading some kind of mysterious disease. People are abandoning their companion animals in the street because they believe the government's lies: there have even been reports of cats beaten to death by a school-teacher. This witch-hunt is much like a similar one conducted against dogs a few months ago.

    The reason for all this senseless bloodshed is apparently because the Chinese authorities want to "clear up the city" before the Olympics.

    Other (English) newspapers manage to find out what is going on in Beijing. Why can't The Times manage this as well?

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  • 5. At 8:50pm on 30 Apr 2008, LesleyHan wrote:

    Two points I want to say:

    Firstly, welcome to China. Beijing is an amazing city with a lot of interestiong stories. Hope you will like her as me.

    Secondly, wish I could improve my language skills by reading BBC news. We Chinese people always has great fever in studying English.

    OK, good luck and good day.

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  • 6. At 9:06pm on 30 Apr 2008, royalskepticism wrote:

    He also falsely reported on Chinese state media's reaction on the Olympic torch relay. It was first broadcasted on Sunday 6 April at 1900 BST. At the time he claims that no Chinese media had reported pro-Tibetan protests. He suggests that the Chinese state media tried to keep the news of the protests from the Chinese public. BBC "apologised" for the mistake in the Editor's blog (which I had to use the website search engine to locate the page) and in an edition of In the News on an early Saturday morning (who watches News on early Saturday mornings?). He barely got a slap on the wrist and kept reporting and now has his own blog. Why are we, the licence fee payers paying thousands of pounds for a biased reporter to go to China and all he came up with are news bashing China and humiliating the people of China. Surely the Chinese has their problems, but who are we to judge them. The worst is none of the western media can produce a fair and balanced view on China. Same with the Tibet history page here on the BBC. It fail to mention the Dalai lama was a dictator when he was in power. It fail to mention during the British "expedition" Colonel Younghusband killed thousands of Tibetans. It also failed to mention the what the Chinese had done to improve Tibet and abolition of slavery in Tibet. I hope BBC can be fair towards the Chinese government. At the end of the day, their economy is improving, people's lives are getting better (that's why we have more and more Chinese students each year to pay ridiculous university fees), and people can now read news from the BBC website. I would like to see his personal apology on this Blog about the report. Otherwise, I don't see what is point of listening to him any more, he is just another biased journalist.

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  • 7. At 9:31pm on 30 Apr 2008, BeijingerInLondon wrote:

    I am writing to ask whether you could stop making news based on your preconceptions.

    On 6 Apr 2008, you reported media in China would not cover the Olympic torch relay troubles in London. James, you were wrong again. If you could at least avoid to make any preconceived notion in your reports, your efforts would be highly appreciated.

    You do not have to be too CCTV but at least not too CNN.

    James Reynolds , Video report "China silent on torch troubles", 6 Apr 2008.

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  • 8. At 11:00pm on 30 Apr 2008, taobo33 wrote:

    Thank for the blog and hope your report about China can be based on more nutural view point.
    I have added your blog as my favourite and hope to hear the thoughts about reporting China from you regularly in the furture!

    ?????????????????, ??????!

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  • 9. At 11:16pm on 30 Apr 2008, radio-one wrote:

    Do you have any good experience to share about China? Or things have been all bad for you there?

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  • 10. At 00:44am on 01 May 2008, MarylandUSA wrote:

    It's finally nice to read some background information about James. I've been watching BBC America for a long time, but I didn't know much about its reporters. Now, when I'm watching BBC News, I'll know a little something about James.

    Also, I look forward to reading about James' thoughts and experiences in China. I'm sure the events surrounding the Olympics will be numerous, noteworthy, and debatable. I look forward to participating actively.

    Keep up the good work!

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  • 11. At 01:39am on 01 May 2008, cheerytrinigirl wrote:

    Hi James, I've been following you since your days in Jerusalem. I am also a journalist from the Caribbean and I've been to China twice in the last 6 months.
    Beautiful place, but I'm glad they've decided to crack down on smoking ahead of the Olympics. I have never had breathing problems, but boy did they start on my second trip!
    Anyway great job on your China coverage and I'm looking forward to your coverage of the Games.

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  • 12. At 01:41am on 01 May 2008, cheerytrinigirl wrote:

    PS Have you learned Mandarin? And what do you like most about China?

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  • 13. At 02:45am on 01 May 2008, ChristianLShea wrote:

    Mr. Reynolds, I loathe and detest the Communist bandit regime, and have done so since childhood. I respect your work, however, and hope that you won't allow your investigative edge to be worn down.

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  • 14. At 08:24am on 01 May 2008, Jaimie_au wrote:

    Such a biased report still has a personal blog in BBC website?

    Shame on you, shame on BBC!

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  • 15. At 10:25am on 01 May 2008, yangshanghai wrote:

    James Reynolds looks like a nice young man whom any mother would have loved their daughter to have brought home for a cup of tea or if it gets more serious, dinner (maybe). However, he is also very clever having done his studies at Cambridge but behind the veneer of young but a bit nerdy looks and polite manners, he is trying to impress as a journalist. I think he should be sent to Afghanistan or Iraq war front so he can see for himself what Western troops are doing to the local population. Bring it on for James, BBC!

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  • 16. At 11:54am on 01 May 2008, yearnhawk wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 17. At 12:45pm on 01 May 2008, fairreport wrote:

    James, I have watched lots of your reports from China, but all were negative. Is China that bad? When will you hand over your notice because you can not stand living and reporting from China?

    China has huge problems(as well as the UK), we don't want to hind those problems, but things are not as bad as you described. My middle-class friends in Beijing are not less happier than my middle-class colleagues in London.

    I trusted West media from I had my independent thoughts until London torch relay. I can still remember I listened to Voice of American in deep night when I was a student.

    I can understand the Westerns like negative news about China, media workers have to fullfill their readers/viewers' taste to keep their jobs on the other hand.

    It is a shame I have to pay TV license(Just checked my bank account and found £36.14 was taken today by TV Licensing for Q2), for the reports I don't trust at all, and poor programs like "East Enders" that nobody watches(I have asked a few English colleagues, they don't watch "East Enders" either).

    James, you really destroyed BBC's as well as your personal reputation and creditability.

    I am thankful to your reports, which wake up me(as well as millions of Chinese living in China and overseas) from the illusion that the West media is reliable. Good work!

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  • 18. At 1:33pm on 01 May 2008, mikelore wrote:

    "I've choked on pollution, had maggots for dinner, been humiliated at ping pong, used binoculars to pick out China's identically dressed leaders, been interrogated by policemen in dark glasses"

    This just about sums up what an utterly useless journalist is; biased reports based on western perceptions and stereotypes. Absolutely no attempt to discover what China really is about. I can't believe this rubbish is what my license fee pays for.

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  • 19. At 5:12pm on 01 May 2008, trypsin wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 20. At 5:42pm on 01 May 2008, toughwu wrote:

    One suggestion for you, James, if you want to stay in China for long. Learn Chinese, it is an amazing language.

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  • 21. At 8:28pm on 01 May 2008, gpitinc wrote:

    James, many urged you to be honest.

    What if honesty is not your company’s code of conduct? I mean, what if you will get fired just by being honesty?

    Anyways, maybe just be BBC as you are paid by it, and don't to be too CNN.

    Best luck.

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  • 22. At 00:05am on 02 May 2008, taobo33 wrote:

    I saw many people have the opinion that BBC should not sent James Reynold to China or at least they should sent someone "know China better".

    As a Chinese in the UK I don't agree with that somehow, James Reynold got a strong education background as well as tough experience back in the middleeast. His experience in China can best represent most western's view on China in my opinion.

    From biased-report, mis-leading/edited picture to 'perdict' China won't report negtive news during torch relay that's exactly what most conflict and suprise comes from when west view confront east.
    China itself however indeed got many problems from limited freedom of speech to policies still lived in 50th last century.

    I do support BBC keeps James Reynold as China representitve as his experience can best represent all these years of change, misunderstanding, theory spark or conspiracy etc(whatever) happened in China from a classic western view point.

    o BTW hope the comment system can support Chinese character since what you saw as many "?" is what exactly Chinese comments lost in translation :P

    Hope to see more of your report from China James and keep up the work!

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  • 23. At 01:06am on 02 May 2008, cheerupchinese wrote:

    Hi, James,

    I, from Taiwan and the US, am a first timer blogger with BBC which, strangely but truly, is my opening website everyday. I am glad that BBC is now accessible in China because of the coming Olymics. Please bring them the unique Britishness they don't yet appreciatae and be alert there lack the recognizable sense of humon in Chineseness of their own uniqueness. Cheer up BBC to cheer up those Chinese who need to be spiked a bit up humorously.

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  • 24. At 05:22am on 02 May 2008, avidnewsreader wrote:

    James, I just read your entry for April 30, 2008, and now I read this. Wow, I can never cease to be shocked by more and more hatred toward China. Why are you reporting with such an angry, hateful tone? In fact, I find "used binoculars to pick out China's identically dressed leaders" to be even racist. It's the old joke from my white friends that all Asians look alike. Do Western leaders not all wear suits at meetings?

    Now with BBC completely opened up in China, your tone and your biased views will simply alienate and hurt any Chinese people who can understand English. By now, as a Chinese Amedrican, I am very used to this kind of reporting.

    I honestly envisioned the Olympics as a great opportunity for everyone to get to know China better and make friends with the Chinese people, but it's been completely the opposite. One hundred years after the Opium War, where Britain forced opium on the Chinese people, I thought finally we can try to forgive, and put that in the past, and officially welcome all of the British people for the first time. But all the Chinese people got back are slaps in their faces. It's just sad, and these antagonizing feelings are fueled by articles like the ones you write.

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  • 25. At 08:56am on 02 May 2008, OneOneSeven wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 26. At 2:43pm on 02 May 2008, antimatterbomb wrote:

    Nah~~~to those upstairs who think that Commerade Reynolds used hateful tone about reporting in China, they are wrong. This guy just wants to sound funny, only goes the wrong way in Chinese people's eyes. It's not because we Chinese have no sense of humour, for those of you who can read chinese and go to forums like Tianya will know Chinese people can be very very funny especially when talking about politics.

    But people in different cultures have different senses of humour, dont they? and I think that's why Commerade Reynolds' description about his life in China sounds so cynical to us chinese. Another culture clash!

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  • 27. At 02:20am on 03 May 2008, xuechen wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 28. At 06:48am on 03 May 2008, cnalbert wrote:

    "I've choked on pollution, had maggots for dinner, been humiliated at ping pong, used binoculars to pick out China's identically dressed leaders, been interrogated by policemen in dark glasses".
    I live in Hangzhou and Beijing in China, and I know there are numerous problems in my homeland, but this depiction is a definite exaggeration.
    It's not hard to draw a conclusion that your reports are bound to based on your preoccoupations of China, as your described in your articles.
    I respect your rights as a journalist, and please respect your audience' rights of getting netural and unbiased information.

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  • 29. At 10:36am on 03 May 2008, Chacor wrote:

    James, don't let any of the nationalist posts here get you down (I'm sure, as the Beijing correspondent for the past year and a half or so, you'll have seen it first-hand yourself anyway).

    You do a great job with your reports. These people obviously have not heard your reports on the World Service before.

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  • 30. At 8:06pm on 03 May 2008, Sampan wrote:

    Yup thats right James, another failed Liberal Arts student from Cambridge is just what President Hu and the Politbureau need to give them much needed advice on how to finally start running the country properly.

    Afterall once you have mastered the art of balancing a straw hat on your head whilst standing on a flat boat, resolving the issues of a rapidly growing and highly aspirational nation of 1.3billion is childs play.

    It must though be very frustrating for you that they are so reistant to your good ideas and continue to deliberatly block those so sincere and meaningful websites that you would like them all to read.

    Never mind, you can continue to find and highlight all the little faults that are so important and yes you are right to ignore the minor issues like rising prosperity etc. If it mattered that much we in the west would be doing it ourselves wouldnt we, instead of crunching into recession.

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  • 31. At 06:44am on 04 May 2008, suozhe wrote:

    Man, I love your whacky British kind of human. I didn't know Arafat is a yelling kind of person, with all those smily portraits. But are you sure the maggots were not part of the dish ingredients? It could be, at least in some other parts of the world. Besides, my friends in Beijing constantly told me how fancier the restaurants in Beijing keep getting. Being a Beijinger currently having studied in Texas for 6 years and just moving to the Bay area, I am yearning to see what you have to say about my home town in the future.

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  • 32. At 06:53am on 04 May 2008, suozhe wrote:

    "Please bring them the unique Britishness they don't yet appreciatae and be alert there lack the recognizable sense of humon in Chineseness of their own uniqueness."

    Dear Cheerupchinese, you certainly fulfilled your namesake by posting such an interesting comment. Have you actually been aquainted with a real Chinese, besides yourself?

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  • 33. At 11:23am on 04 May 2008, fairreport wrote:

    See that, James use "binoculars"(not a "binocular") when he reports about China - He always tries to pick out bad things. There is a saying in China: "Pick out stones from an egg"(means too picky and too selective), this is exactly what he has been doing in China.

    As a Chinese currently living in London, I have seen how BBC reported on London torch relay and I have been the scene, it was definitely not "balanced", by no means "unbiased".

    If you want to be selective, using colored binoculars, you can always find bad things, from any country, any person, or anything.

    James, as China is getting better year-by-year(of course you will not show your audiences), you will need higher and higher precision "binoculars", eventually a Hubble Space Telescope, take a look at specification at , is that good enough for you?

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  • 34. At 04:10am on 06 May 2008, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    I have watching James Reynolds reports since he was working in BBC's Santiago, Chile
    News Bureaux......

    I am sorry for James' not able to get any business for his language school....but you found a great career......

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  • 35. At 3:09pm on 06 May 2008, luckylea wrote:

    This is excellent!

    This is excellent working example of how a white, middle-class see a developing country - a country who don't have English as their first language, not even using alphabet (crime!), instead they use weird characters which make no sense to foreigners. A country where people do waste their time in culinary, not like the advanced British whose cook book was joked as the smallest book in the world. This is a country so underdeveloped that they even have their own medical system for thousands of years, which is so difference from the Western one (which means nowhere close to good!).

    So as a superior White man he must go and teach the inferior yellow-skinned a lesson, to show them how things should be done. Most importantly, to inform them of their inferiority and therefore should listen to whatever the White say. But of course, it's a difficult job for him as this is a country with people are being brain-washed by the communist. They support the Olympic because the government want them to. Even when these inferior minded were in London or Paris, they cheer the torch like zombie. Poor, poor people.

    I'll recommend this blog to everyone, it nicely sums up what the West view China and Chinese. It's naive to see the Olymipic as a opportunity to communicate to the West. It is important to understand their ignorance, bias, preconception and ethnocentric views as this will determine how they interpret everything that happens in China. Sadly, people in the West trust their media wholeheardedly, without knowing that they've been fooled all these time. This is a true ignorance. They don't even know there's a different side of the story. For them, the different sides of the story is switching from BBC to CNN or Skynews, who are basically the same biased, ethnocentric folks.

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  • 36. At 4:24pm on 06 May 2008, davidsouthampton wrote:

    It's very sad that BBC has sent a correspondent who definitely know nothing about China to Beijing. To make this the worst, James Ronald is proved an anti-Chinese advocate according to his coverages of China (While, it's true that he has changed his attitude a little bit after more truth of Tibetan riot had came out).
    My point is that as a public broadcaster, BBC has its responsibility to represent its audience of a real China rather than a demonized one.
    Anyway, I hope James can have a good time in Beijing, gradually give up your prejudgment, get to know China and show us what is really happening in such a different nation.

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  • 37. At 04:32am on 09 May 2008, mcmacko wrote:

    Mr Reynolds
    Im glad Ive finally found this comment box.

    I saw you on youtube too as I was actually googling you to see if other people were as irritated as me at all the negative only news you feed the World in your TV reporting.

    China is emerging as an economic powerhouse and the World wants to hear the success stories of individuals, companies and initiatives that are contributing toward that. You are indicating Westerners want to hear only about how evil the regime there is.

    Give yourself at least a 1/5 ratio to start off with..."I did all negative stories these last few days so today I'll do a positive story"...what a great idea!! you may find you'll enjoy your time there more

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  • 38. At 05:54am on 10 May 2008, goodblablabla wrote:

    to tell u the truth i have never missed to open everyday since i started 4 something years ago i always took the bbc as the world most reliable and "fair and balanced" (as FOX network in US of A use to say) news media. until one day when a well educated brit told me that it was not. really? to be honest with u this fella (a middle aged man come to US of A for holidays) who told me about "bbc being not fair and balanced but bias" really hurt me. later when i found out that bbc is actually publicly funded corporation, i felt sorry for the brits that they have to live with it. anyways i still prefer bbc over "most trusted name in news CNN" and "FAIR and BALANCED news FOX" when it comes to news and of course the documentaries too, not to mention the comedies like "only fools and horses."
    keep up the biased work.... shh what i meant to say is keep up the good work! u have to keep the western government happy anyway, dont u? or risk loosing your job. :P

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  • 39. At 02:49am on 12 May 2008, TommyJ1984 wrote:

    Wonder why would BBC sent someone like you to Beijing as its correspondent in China? You obviously have no understanding of its history, culture, people, value or indeed the changes happening in China. It just shows how blatantly ignorant and arrogant BBC and its journalists are to think that despite of your lack of knowledge and understanding, your report would be 'independent', 'unbiased' and 'impartial'.

    If some non-English speaking Chinese reporter were to be sent to London then I am sure his/her blog would be translated to saying: Britain, a country full of binge drinkers, drug abusers, teenager mums, yobs, thugs and goons; full of knife crimes, gun crimes, ruthless profit making machines, culture of indebtedness, negligence of family value and a so called democratic society where people care more about the winner of Big Brother than the leader of the country, just to name a few.

    I guess my point is how would you expect people to respect your writing if you don’t even have the most elementary understanding or respect of a country with such a diverse culture and rich history? How is it possible for people in China not to mock your reporting and people outside China to find your words credible?

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  • 40. At 06:11am on 14 May 2008, otherchinese wrote:

    I'm glad that people in China can browse through bbc now. I hope the access stays open after the Olympics.

    I'm a Chinese who currently lives overseas. I can understand (though somewhat puzzled about) why some Chinese are so angry towards the west related to the torch relay. The roaring patriotism in China now also reminded me of the increasing patriotism in the US right after 9/11. They feel their country is under an attack and needs to be defended. But not all of them think rationally about why these things happen.

    That’s why I’m also very concerned about some Chinese people’s zero tolerance of any different opinions or criticisms towards China. It’s partly a result of years and years of patriotic education, limited access to different opinions, limited freedom of free speech, and lack of open dialogues within the country as well as between China and other countries. Most people I know acknowledge the limitation of China’s tightly controlled media, lack of transparency, deteriorating environment… But it seems they are more likely to discuss these things among Chinese privately. They tend to dislike foreigners to point them out or pick on them. Is it trying to “save face”?

    Maybe this is not a good analogy, but I feel that it’s like some little kid finds out his father is no longer the idol figure he used to admire. He feels sad, angry, and frustrated when others discover that. They also feel the similar frustration a runner experiences after finding out the finishing line being pulled back continuously no matter how hard he is trying to run towards.

    I just want to say that there are Chinese people who do want to see more open dialogues, communications, and understandings, and improvements within China and between China and the rest of the world. Dialogue, not silence.

    I enjoyed your humorous opening paragraph of “About James Reynolds”. Thanks for reporting in China with your fresh set of eyes. Keep up the good work!

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  • 41. At 7:21pm on 15 May 2008, bbppguo wrote:

    Your experience working abroad is impressive: on the other hand, to really understand people from another culture, to learn to respect their difference, to learn to listen to their needs, all these demand more time, effort and a great deal of sincerity. As a Chinese student in the United States, I have experienced similar situations and I would like to share some of my thoughts with you and others here.

    I hope when you arrive in China, you can truly experience the everyday life there, talk to people, try to understand them without framing them and their lives in preconceived ways.

    A country like China is not represented by a few number of similar-looking leaders, bad air in a big city, or the policemen wearing sunglasses. To feel and learn the difference of people, one needs to live with them and learn to share their joy and sorrow. It requires sympathy, compassion, understanding, in short, a very big heart.

    It generally takes several months for one to go through the period of "cultural shock". It may take years for one to understand and share people's feelings. Also, in a traditional culture, people in China do not express their feelings directly as people in a western culture. This does not mean that they don't feel or speak; this means that their ways of articulating thoughts and emotions are different, many times very subtle.

    Wish you a good trip to China.

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  • 42. At 4:52pm on 18 May 2008, Dove2008 wrote:

    Dear James,

    It is really my great pleasure to find you blog here, I hope you can send back first hand news from China every day.

    I am really sad about this earthquake, which also destroy my hometown, I really hope people of Sichuan can stand up, and children can return to school with help of other people. I am dreaming of return to my hometown and do some thing for our people after I graduated.

    London is a very beatufil place, even there is some biased report which hurt me deeply a few days ago, I began to love this place when I arrived here, and I also find British friends are very very kind to me, I think they are the real gentlemen of the world, I love them very much.

    I sincerely hope you can bridge the misunderstanding between Chinese people and Western people, I know your BBC is one of the most important media all over the world, and play as a window for people to know every thing of the world, so I hope you can let more people know the real China and you also can enjoy yourself durning you are in China.

    With my best wishes!

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  • 43. At 11:02am on 22 May 2008, greenivynet wrote:

    i find out your blog after viewing the bbc news about the 5.12 earthquake in China. thank you for all the efforts to let people outside China know what is happening here. as a common citizen of beijing, i can't go to disastrous zone to help people there, the best thing and only thing i can do is working hard and praying for our people and country. may our motherland a splendid future!

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  • 44. At 3:26pm on 29 Jun 2008, michelise wrote:

    Dear James,

    Before coming to Asia from South Africa earlier this year, I was a journalist. For two years. Straight out of uni. Had to pay off a journalism "bursary". Best job in the world.

    Anyway, reading through the comments people have left here I realised it doesn't matter how great a journalist you are, how much your reporting means to anyone or how hard you try to be objective, apparantly you won't be able to please everybody all of the time.

    I was a junior journaslit, trying my best, thinking I was doing something for the greater good (in a small way) when one day an anonymous Christmas card landed on my desk. Inside was not a merry Christmas but a scathing criticism of my intelligence and worth as a reporter. Why? Because in a social interest article the previous day I had called someone a "qualified lawyer", while obviously I was only supposed to call him a "lawyer".

    You're probably experienced enough to know this already, but just in case... don't let the comments get to you. Not only are they the result of cultural differences but also a communication gap. Its hard to guage someone's tone of voice if you can't hear him speak and see his body language, it's even worse if you're not familiar enough with his language.

    Your blog's great, your reporting's excellent. It sounds like you know China as much as you know your readers and what they need to be informed about.
    Keep up the good work.

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  • 45. At 3:46pm on 30 Jun 2008, Pritam wrote:

    Hello dear James. I am an Indian. I've read your blogs. Almost all coverages are excellent. I am waiting for your James Reynolds India version.

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  • 46. At 4:19pm on 01 Jul 2008, coppersonam wrote:

    Hi James,

    Thank you so much for reporting from China and Tibet . I understand that there are a lot of readers who think your reporting is biased and it is sad that these people are not able to face the truth and thus blame you and BBC.

    Keep up your good work.

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  • 47. At 2:48pm on 03 Jul 2008, Meilimolihua wrote:

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  • 48. At 00:47am on 04 Jul 2008, tregre wrote:

    Hi James,

    I've just looked down the comments here. You've got involved in a bit of a storm - not perfect, but pretty rough at times - of criticism.

    You struck these elements at least:

    cultural misunderstanding of the British sense of humour (without saying whether yours is good or not),
    misunderstanding of British self-deprecation in your honesty regarding your background before journalism,
    misunderstanding of the historical role (and value, I believe) of dilettantism in the way Brits relate to life and the world revealed in criticism of your lack of prior knowledge of China (of course you will do your damnedest to remedy that),
    a suddenly prickly and vociferous national pride,
    the imbalance between the public knowledge of your name and face and the safe cloak of anonymity your critics hide behind,
    some justified general criticism of western reporting,
    lack of understanding that a balanced view of reporting is gained by reading a variety of organs, not just one (even if that one has a reputation for balance),

    You do have a job to do and you should have the cultural competence as well as the journalistic skills to do it. You are not perfect and it is incredibly naive to believe you could or should be. Do your best. If I don't like what you write, I'll find someone whose writings I do.

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  • 49. At 09:50am on 06 Jul 2008, jeffinvade wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 50. At 09:16am on 13 Jul 2008, SuKeong wrote:

    Do you speak Chinese? Or do you rely on an interpreter? I think it's difficult to fully understand a culture and it's inaccurate and/or ineffective to cover a country without knowing the language. Imagine: a London or Washington correspondent who doesn't speak a word of English. I don't think any foreign TV/radio/news would send a reporter to the US or the UK to cover news if he/she doesn't speak English. It isn't fair.

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  • 51. At 2:42pm on 26 Aug 2008, nikki noodle wrote:

    "China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi (a man who's clearly been on put on foreign leader duty - Mr Jiechi sat next to President Bush during the basketball)"

    Thankyou Mr James for this blog.

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  • 52. At 1:26pm on 27 Aug 2008, Kathleen_K wrote:

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  • 53. At 06:44am on 30 Aug 2008, worlddonotforgetibet wrote:

    I find it intriguing as why james bothered to introduce himself.
    Obviously most of the bloggers are shallow and hollow when it comes to appreciating the internationally respected credentials(with exception of those who are out side china)? How can James expect Chinese to have a real knowledge of the out side world when their only window to the World is throw the Communist window!
    Come on James it is unfair. you westerns (including America)literally invented every machine that is traveling in and through the sky, every vehicles that is rolling on the road, every machine that is traversing over the sea and under the ocean ,every electrical and electronic wonders that dominating the world, .From modern medical ,walking on the moon ,spinning satellites and weapons that is unequal. We developing countries are only coping. Imagine if you Westerns withdraw all your factories and business establishments!Where would china be? You had televission in 1930s,computer in 1940s.and Olympics since 776 BC-and modern from1900s.Now it is the developing countries. . Move over James!! And I hope
    Your Spanish and French is as good as we the bbc bloggers Englissi.
    c.tashi NY

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  • 54. At 8:59pm on 26 Dec 2008, dennisjunior1 wrote:


    Thanks for the great reports on the blogs for the 2008...and, I am glad to read all of your contributions on your...adventures.

    ~Dennis Junior~

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  • 55. At 5:41pm on 02 Jan 2009, Nicky9L wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 56. At 5:00pm on 03 Jan 2009, yunaala wrote:

    I've been reading the blog for about a year now, especially coming up to the Olympics. I was back in Beijing where I am from during the Olympics and was impressed by how streamlined the whole city was. However, I think undoubtedly there are issues which need to be discussed beneath all the glamour and success of the Olympics. While there are disputes concerning the topics and details in James Reynold's blogs, the bigger picture is that issues within China, such as the rights of its citizens to hold demonstrations, to protest against corruption, and to have appropriate compensation over tainted milk are being addressed. Although not all of these cases may be average occurences to the middle class from the big city, the Sanlu incident demonstrates just how much the law and its standards have let the people down. So, perhaps it's time to attenuate the defensiveness and think about the citizens who have been affected, why they are complaining, and accept that things just aren't as perfect as some people make them out to be.

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  • 57. At 11:18pm on 04 Jan 2009, bitemechina wrote:

    thank you james reynolds, your post helps to give us a in depth look at the "real" china and not the one that the chinese media potrays to the world. Also do no take the comments posted above seriously as most of them are from either brain washed chinese citizens or brain washed non chinese citizens. Dont get discouraged, keep fighting for the truth!

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  • 58. At 3:58pm on 19 Mar 2009, waynewyt wrote:

    "Also do no take the comments posted above seriously as most of them are from either brain washed chinese citizens or brain washed non chinese citizens"...
    "bitemechina", it seems that you, who arrogantly believe that anyone who disagree with your conception on China is "brainwashed", are the one who has been brainwashed most seriously. How hypocritical you are, "freedom of speech" means nothing to you when to comes to China.

    By the way, Reynolds, I've been reading your blog for almost one year and have never seen even one article that is not negative. And it seems that you only have interest in political matters. Don't you think it's kind of boring?

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  • 59. At 10:55am on 25 Mar 2009, grace_e_jackson wrote:

    I've been reading this blog for a while now, primarily for the illuminating "debate" that goes in the comment section.

    I find it fascinating and disturbing that even on a website that enables people from different cultures and countries to talk to one another, discussion is still utterly polarised. If you're not Chinese and you object to the policies of the Chinese Communist Party you're an ignorant Western hypocrite with no right to judge. If you don't, you're a brainwashed Chinese nationalist. Why can't we talk to each other properly?

    Just because my country has a grand history of oppression and cultural imperialism, that doesn't make me, an individual who is not defined by their government, a hypocrite for advocating human rights in 2009. Having spent a lot of time in China myself, I can understand that economic development is a priority for most people (as it would be anywhere)--but when economic development is not accompanied by other kinds of political progress, questions can and must be asked, by anyone who has the inclination to do so (and I spoke to many Chinese people in China who were asking these kinds of questions). Some people might not have a lot of knowledge and I agree that it's a shame when people make judgements that aren't informed. But I would never question their right to do so.

    What is most disturbing to me is that many of the comments on this blog seem to hold human rights and economic development apart, as mutually exclusive privileges. As if having one makes the other irrelevant. This is a false dichotomy, and one which silences debate. Until we can deconstruct these binaries and talk to each other without reaching for hyper- defensive rhetoric, progress can never be made.

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  • 60. At 06:56am on 26 Mar 2009, heathergreene wrote:

    I would be interested in learning what prospects exist for a UK citizen interested in moving to China. Are there job opportunities for someone with 5 As at A level to, for example, teach English?

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  • 61. At 9:03pm on 26 Mar 2009, morrishalf wrote:

    Hi, James,

    I am interested in your reports about China, and would like to make subscription. However, it seems to me that RSS is very complicated and I failed after many attempts. My simple question is what I should do to have your reports in my mailbox like e.g. regular newsletter?


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  • 62. At 10:54am on 27 Mar 2009, GNRChineseDemocracy wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 63. At 01:12am on 28 Mar 2009, suzhousid wrote:

    gday james (from an aussie in china) hope you can report fairly. I like china and would hate to see or hear any rubbish about the place. China isnt perfect, but at the moment it is my home. China ,for one reason or another gets an awful lot of bad press... tibet, pollution, and the rest... it is not as bad as it is reported. Let the chinese people run the country the way they think fit... and report on that.... I am having and willl continue to have a good time here, because I dont expect anything... everything is still fresh and new to me.... I hope your views dont become jaded.. cheers and good luck

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  • 64. At 5:59pm on 29 Mar 2009, state_clark wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 65. At 07:42am on 31 Mar 2009, flsound wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 66. At 7:26pm on 31 Mar 2009, U13873932 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 67. At 07:55am on 03 Apr 2009, nomadtenzin wrote:

    Mr James,I find your blog and the topics you have chosen to be relevent with context to the current world scenario vis a vis china.Ofcourse Tibet is an important issue that the world population has taken interest to and you being a correspondent of a respected news corporation, it is your duty as a journalist to highlight critical issues that state powers want ignored.With regard to Tibet it is not the BBC that has distorted information but the reality there is so heavily stacked against the PRC that many are astonished with the facts emerging from Tibet and the chinese population is easily persuaded to buy into the theory of "the conspiracy of the west via BBC,CNN etc" promoted by the chinese state.However as a journalist you have stuck to the facts and reported it as you have observed them. which I think is honourable and worthy of respect.Keep it up!

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  • 68. At 11:58pm on 06 Apr 2009, pchen442 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 69. At 00:13am on 07 Apr 2009, pchen442 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 70. At 8:07pm on 07 Apr 2009, pchen442 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 71. At 1:07pm on 11 Apr 2009, youngjimbo23 wrote:

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  • 72. At 1:15pm on 13 Apr 2009, chinabuzz wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 73. At 12:56pm on 14 Apr 2009, beijing_2008 wrote:

    # 67,

    Are you actually saying with a straight face that some media organisations are not biased against China, particularly on the Tibet issue?

    You can not be serious.

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  • 74. At 00:45am on 20 Apr 2009, Shinpath wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 75. At 7:02pm on 21 Apr 2009, suyinghui wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

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