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A comical take

James Reynolds | 11:07 UK time, Friday, 12 June 2009

Taking a ride through Chinese cyberspace to have a look at what people in China make of our coverage is often a pretty enlightening experience. A frequent opinion of the BBC - and sometimes of me in particular - is that we are a reactionary blackhands or imperialist running dogs (the phrase "running dog" carries much more punch in the original Chinese).

jamersreynolds_umbrella226.jpgOver the last year or two, a number of extremely well-edited videos kindly pointing out my many alleged failings as a reporter have also been posted on various websites.

The latest video - posted on China's version of YouTube - takes a slightly more comical angle of our recent encounter with Chinese security forces guarding Tiananmen Square...

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  • 1. At 12:44pm on 12 Jun 2009, jTemplar wrote:

    James, the umbrella men are hilarious, but there is nothing funny about the human rights abuses in China. Thanks for the laugh, though.

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  • 2. At 2:00pm on 12 Jun 2009, billyling925 wrote:

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

  • 3. At 2:28pm on 12 Jun 2009, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    This somewhat open forum provides individuals the opportunity to comment on comments. "Watchdogs" for the powers that be obviously monitor your comments. The super-patriots, and every country has them, as well as government funded monitors, will attack anything that might challenge the judgement of the ruling party. Distortion is their game. These are the same people who would have supported the Red Guard during the Cultrual Revolution, which I have always found an interesting name for an anti-cultural movement that was mainly about intimidation and the brutal exercise of unrestrained abuse of personal agendas and violent crimes. There is a thread that connects the Communist takeover and murder of 30 million plus Chinese, the Cultrual Revolution, with untold number of deaths and Tiananmen Square,the first public challange to government and current day China. No society escapes its history. There have been remarkable changes in China and we can not forget that extreme poverty and lack of any sense of a future was not that far in the past. The development of a class structured society in what is based on a classless system can only lead to change or conflict. Your harshest critics are the beaten howling dogs attempting to keep the ghost and spirits of the past away as the full moon exposes with light what happens in the darkness.
    You should accept that the history of the British in China was of economic exploitation and grounded in a sense of cultural superiority. The residue of the past does not wash away with the first rain.

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  • 4. At 3:08pm on 12 Jun 2009, aeroarchie wrote:

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

  • 5. At 3:30pm on 12 Jun 2009, nanjingdave wrote:

    Lets be honest James.

    Fair English skin like yours is sensitive to the Beijing sun. It's obvious those nice men were just trying to protect you from getting burnt.

    Considerate to a fault those secret police.

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  • 6. At 7:05pm on 12 Jun 2009, bfoulkrod1 wrote:

    If you want to take your place on the world stage and command respect, this is really the most childish way to go about it. Sad thing is, this is the nation we've all set up to be able to economically lead us by the nose.

    We deserve better from our "partners", the Chinese deserve better, and the honest people in the Chinese government who really do try their best deserve to be better represented in the eyes of the world than this childish contempt.

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  • 7. At 7:22pm on 12 Jun 2009, ghostofsichuan wrote:

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

  • 8. At 8:02pm on 12 Jun 2009, CaravanPark wrote:

    "(the phrase "running dog" carries much more punch in the original Chinese). "

    In Chinese "running dog" () can roughly be explained as someone who will do anything to please their masters even though what they did is harmful & deceitful.
    =walking dog?



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  • 9. At 8:16pm on 12 Jun 2009, Bloofs wrote:

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

  • 10. At 9:26pm on 12 Jun 2009, endyjai wrote:

    Why... they were your fans! Trying to shade you from the sun!

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  • 11. At 08:22am on 13 Jun 2009, calcination wrote:

    The problem is that cyberspace is saturated with people who have an axe to grind, and one suspects that many of those in China are paid by the gvt for publicity and information warfare purposes. So add that to the rabid nationalists who don't like anyone who might appear to slight their country and you have a recipe for disparaging comments about what we regard as normal reporting.

    I've seen people who claim to be in China or Hong Kong argue against the facts and in the Chinese gvt's favour on a number of issues, whether human rights or economic change.

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  • 12. At 08:26am on 13 Jun 2009, TrnOvrANwLeaf wrote:

    Nice to see China's police dancing to the tune of The Old Umbrella Man. Reminds me of Tank Man Tango. This has to be part of my comedy screening. What a hilarious bunch!

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  • 13. At 09:57am on 13 Jun 2009, kentlocke wrote:

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

  • 14. At 7:56pm on 14 Jun 2009, Roadkill wrote:

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

  • 15. At 01:48am on 15 Jun 2009, ChinaOrg wrote:

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

  • 16. At 02:07am on 15 Jun 2009, U14029228 wrote:

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

  • 17. At 08:07am on 15 Jun 2009, waitinghk wrote:

    Great video, great user that upload the video to web. Great reporters, great umbrellas.
    You are not alone, there are at least two 'imperial running dogs', one from UK, one from US.

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  • 18. At 08:14am on 15 Jun 2009, ChinaOrg wrote:

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

  • 19. At 1:05pm on 15 Jun 2009, waitinghk wrote:

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

  • 20. At 1:11pm on 15 Jun 2009, Bloofs wrote:

    I wonder if other BBC foreign correspondents get the same level of scrutiny from citizens of the country they are covering? Since some Chinese seem to always be looking for insults in your reporting, whatever you say! I suppose you have colleagues who are (or were) also writing from China but only you seem to have a blog. In the age of blogging and global news, the wrath of certain 'patriotic' Chinese can be given full vent back at the reporter. I can only say that those of us back home in the UK appreciate really do appreciate your reporting.

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  • 21. At 1:28pm on 15 Jun 2009, beijing_2008 wrote:

    #11 says
    "... claim to be in China or Hong Kong argue against the facts and in the Chinese gvt's favour ..."

    Oh the irony.
    Where have you been since 1997?

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  • 22. At 4:02pm on 15 Jun 2009, englishbounder wrote:

    Your certainly very funny James, it's great following your blog and all the other web sites out there becoming dedicated to you.
    Strange thou there not all Chinese web sites posting about you thou.
    Your a legend home and abroad!

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  • 23. At 4:25pm on 15 Jun 2009, RoastDuck wrote:

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

  • 24. At 4:30pm on 15 Jun 2009, RoastDuck wrote:

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

  • 25. At 12:46pm on 16 Jun 2009, zhangchi36 wrote:

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

  • 26. At 5:54pm on 16 Jun 2009, thisisacryforhelp wrote:

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

  • 27. At 09:59am on 17 Jun 2009, China-Ice wrote:

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

  • 28. At 12:19pm on 17 Jun 2009, TrnOvrANwLeaf wrote:

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

  • 29. At 1:45pm on 17 Jun 2009, XunFang wrote:

    Guess the Chinese government is getting "clever" when dealing with foreign journalist. Its better than getting physical and try to remove you from the square. Imagine what a big fuss that will be. Its a classic example of "soft treatment". However this takes the fun out of your coverage. Better luck next time.

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  • 30. At 2:10pm on 17 Jun 2009, tclim38 wrote:

    Yes, 'comical', 'hilarious', 'funny', ... and that's all because the Chinese people are so friendly.

    Whatever the foreign journalists were dancing in the neighboring country and in Iran recently, there seemed to be no umbrella involved. At least, I don't see it. Anybody got the video?

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  • 31. At 3:06pm on 17 Jun 2009, onjournalism wrote:

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

  • 32. At 7:06pm on 17 Jun 2009, Nom DePlume wrote:

    The best part is the blue sky in the background and the almost complete lack of umbrellas held by anyone not wearing a radio ear piece in their ears. I also found the 'official comments' made by the Chinese government in the ramp up to the Olympics amusing in their own way. Not once did any comment deny or attempt to rationalize the policies of the government or the behaviour of it's members. Every comment was simply a complaint that someone was complaining. The "umbrella men" were simply a physical example of this same tactic... priceless!

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  • 33. At 02:34am on 18 Jun 2009, ChinaOrg wrote:

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

  • 34. At 3:14pm on 18 Jun 2009, PRAVEEN_DUDI wrote:

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

  • 35. At 05:54am on 20 Jun 2009, Iron_Man_Engineer wrote:

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  • 36. At 5:52pm on 22 Jun 2009, Tom W wrote:

    Perhaps "lapdog" would be a better translation?

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  • 37. At 07:04am on 23 Jun 2009, ChinaOrg wrote:

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  • 38. At 3:39pm on 23 Jun 2009, mikelia wrote:

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  • 39. At 1:14pm on 24 Jun 2009, georgebeijing wrote:

    keep up the good work James :)
    I always enjoy your posts (and find your negative commentators annoyingly amusing)

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  • 40. At 11:21pm on 24 Jun 2009, shuwoyuandehen wrote:

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

  • 41. At 6:51pm on 25 Jun 2009, waitinghk wrote:

    In the eye of the 'Chinese users', this treatment is 'soft', improving and 'better than Iran', but in the eye of the 'foreign journalist', this is ridiculous and non-sense.
    This remind me of a story of 'half glass of water'. Someone said 'there are only half glass of water remains', and another one said 'we got half glass of water!'
    From a different perspective, the 'Chinese users' are teaching us a lesson: to think in the optimistic way.

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  • 42. At 05:12am on 27 Jun 2009, TrnOvrANwLeaf wrote:

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

  • 43. At 4:18pm on 29 Jun 2009, beijing_2008 wrote:

    Concerning post #42,

    1. The number of Chinese who benefit from China's "repressive government" far exceeds the number of Indians who benefit from India's enlightened goverment.

    2. To say that China has 1.3 billion "cheap" (I assume in the context of cost, rather than quality) labourers is puzzling. It seems unusual that a nation wholly consisting of factory workers, shoe makers or potato growers would have the world transfixed about its rise.

    3. It seems odd, again, that a nation, whose youth are apparently denied "intellectual development", should consistently come top in international Mathematics, Computing and Science Olympiads, and be making huge advances in areas such as nano-technology, stem-cell research and space exploration.

    "Free" access to information, it seems, has not enabled the above author to obtain a more balanced perspective of China.

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  • 44. At 1:19pm on 30 Jun 2009, TrnOvrANwLeaf wrote:

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

  • 45. At 3:14pm on 30 Jun 2009, funnyanotherblogger wrote:

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

  • 46. At 1:52pm on 01 Jul 2009, beijing_2008 wrote:

    Concerning post #44,

    The author is seemingly a proponent of the use of diplomatic language in this blog, yet has, on this page itself, two removed comments.

    1. I would have thought most people understood the purpose of quotation marks, that is, to enclose a direct quotation. Thus the statement "repressive goverment" should have been taken to be a repetition of the author's own words, not accedence to its content. This really is very elementary.

    2. It is true that a significant reason for China's growth has been the availability of low-cost labour. But it was identified - well before the financial crisis occurred - that this model could not continue indefinitely. Thus we are beginning to see China adopt policies that move away from relying on exports to sustain its growth.

    3. The author continues to put forward the argument that China's youth do not possess a "fully developed mind", whatever that may be. If Chinese pupils do not possess "critical analytical skills", in the academic sense, it is only because the Chinese education system places strong emphasis on rote learning. What this has to do with a censored media I know not - but then again China-bashers have an extraordinary ability to link politics to every aspect of Chinese life.

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  • 47. At 4:18pm on 01 Jul 2009, tclim38 wrote:

    Regarding post #44

    "3. It is common sense that one can only fully develop one's mind if one has access to uncensored information, possess critical analysis skills ..."

    Disagree.

    That's why we have 'moderator' to remove comments if they 'violate the house rules'. Every country has their own 'house rules'.
    Also, uncensored pornographic stuff only encourage teen pregnancies, not 'critical analysis skills'.

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  • 48. At 8:00pm on 02 Jul 2009, Steve wrote:

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

  • 49. At 02:15am on 07 Jul 2009, Edjective wrote:

    This is China Calling,

    Anyone tried walking down Downing Street? And, has anyone spotted the plain clothes (i.e. secret) Police around there? Also, what about the proliferation of CCTV cameras in the UK over the last decade? I've been told that there are more CCTV cameras in the UK per head of population than in any other country; and, based on my own observations, have no reason to doubt that it's true. The only ones I've seen here in China are on motorways! Anyway, let's get our own glass and brick houses in order etc. etc.

    Edjective.

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