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Three years in China

James Reynolds | 01:00 UK time, Monday, 6 July 2009

And so, that's it. My time in China is up. I've come to the end of my three years here - the standard life expectancy for a BBC foreign posting.

James ReynoldsI'd like to take you through a few of the things I've seen during my time here. Not a representative portrait - just some of the stories that have stuck with me.

Petitioners

Shortly after I arrived, I paid my first visit to a part of Beijing called the petitioners' village - a run-down collection of alleyways in which some of the country's most desperate people live while they try to get the authorities to hear their appeals for justice.

I met one man who told me of his son's murder, for which no-one had been convicted. The father sat on a bed he shared with two others and shook with sobs as he showed me pictures of his son's skeleton. He wanted to give me a copy of his petition - 40 pages of documents stapled together and sealed inside a brown envelope. He hoped that I might be able to help. I warned that there was little that I could do, but he insisted that I accept it.

Most petitioners campaign for years without any success. They're often harassed and detained by a government which would prefer them to just go away. Earlier this year, a prominent professor dismissed most petitioners as mentally ill.

Almost every day for the last two years, I've caught sight of the bereaved father's petition on my shelf at home and wondered if he ever got the justice he wanted.

Many believe that petitioners suffer from the lack of an independent judicial system. This country's courts operate without any kind of public scrutiny. I've never been able to see inside a courtroom. As a consolation, I was able to see a court building from my office window for a while - until a new building went up on the only empty bit of land between our office and the court.

Many families in China have to carry their own anguish in silence. In the summer of 2007, I went to central China to cover the news that hundreds of men had been found working as slaves in illegal brick factories. Some had been kept underground for so long that they no longer knew their own names.

Zhang BairenI met a man called Zhang Bairen. His son Zhang Zhike had gone missing and the father was hoping that his son might be one of the rescued slaves. But he wasn't.

I asked the family if they could show me a picture of their missing son but they didn't have one. The family was too poor to afford any photos.

A year later, some more men working as slaves were rescued. The family hoped that the missing Zhang Zhike might be among them. But, again, he wasn't.

Another year on, family members tell us that they have now given up hope of ever finding their lost son. Theirs is a silent grief.

Dissidents

Anyone who chooses to speak out has to pick their words with care. There appears to be an unofficial rule here, that you're allowed to criticise corruption and incompetence among local officials, but if you criticise this country's main leaders, or if you dare to suggest an end to one party rule, you will get into serious trouble.

Guo QuanIn January 2008, I went to Nanjing to interview Professor Guo Quan. He'd just founded the China New Democracy Party. We sat on the grounds of his university as he took me through his party's charter. At the time, I was surprised that the government didn't try to stop him. But in November 2008, the professor was arrested for subversion. He's now awaiting trial.

The activist Hu Jia has also paid for his own determination to campaign against abuses. I first met him at the end of 2007 when he was under house arrest at his apartment in Beijing. His wife, Zeng Jinyan, was expecting their first child. She told me that a police officer slept outside their front door to make sure that her husband didn't escape.

Shortly after the birth of their daughter Qianci, Hu Jia was formally arrested. He's now serving the second year of a 3 1/2 year sentence for subversion.

The police still stop outsiders from visiting his wife, Zeng Jinyan. She sent us a text message to say that the authorities allow her to visit her husband in prison once a month. Hu Jia is now routinely mentioned as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Economic Progress

But these are subjects that the government prefers not to discuss. The Chinese Communist Party prefers to focus attention on its efforts to raise people's living standards - it argues that economic progress is a much more accurate measurement of human rights.

Liang GeliangIn recent years, China has got rich because of its engagement with the outside world. This engagement began in 1971 when a group of American table tennis players was invited to compete in China. In 2008, I interviewed Liang Geliang who was a member of the Chinese team which played against the visiting Americans.

When I met him, Mr Liang was running his own ping-pong club in Beijing. He was also trying to market a new kind of table tennis bat. Instead of a normal handle, Mr Liang's bat had a wooden panel in which you insert several of your fingers. He demonstrated this in a one-sided match against our driver.

A year on, Liang Geliang says that he is still trying to find a business partner so that he can mass produce and sell his new bat.

In China, you can try to make money from pretty much anything - including the country's most famous Communist, Chairman Mao.

The first man I ever interviewed here was a sculptor called Wang Wenhai. Mr Wang specialises in making busts of the late leader, and from what I could tell, he never seemed to get bored of sculpting the same person day after day. Mr Wang's cheapest sculptures were on sale for $200.

Almost three years after I met him, the sculptor has now gone back to his home-town to look after his mother. He's still making his Mao sculptures. But he says he's not having much luck in getting people to buy them.

James Reynolds on train with Chinese migrant workersWang Wenhai's decision to return home makes him an exception. Around 200 million people in China here make a living as migrant workers - they leave their homes in the countryside to find work in the cities. But the world's financial crisis has caused many of these workers to lose their jobs.

Chen Zhongwei is one of them. Earlier this year, he lost his job at a factory in the southern city of Shenzhen. I met him during the New Year holiday while he was lolling about on his parents' small farm. After the holiday ended, he left to find work. But he couldn't find a job. So he's now back at his parents' house.

He doesn't want to work on their farm. His generation has grown up to expect to do something more exciting that farming.

Chen ZhongweiChen Zhongwei says he is now thinking of borrowing money from his parents so that he can buy a car and get work as a driver.

He has the freedom to choose his own job. That's something that his parents never had.

Thirty years ago in China, your local Communist Party work unit would pick where you went to school, what you studied at university, where you lived, where you worked, and even who you married.

In recent years, the government has stepped back from people's private lives. But the Communist Party still maintains one element of control - it dictates how many children each couple can have. China's one-child policy began in 1979. The first generation of only children the world has ever known has now grown up.

This generation has run into a set of unusual problems. A traditional preference for boys in China means that there now are too many men chasing too few women. A point I learned on the southern island of Hainan when I met a dejected set of young men who were unable to find any eligible women to marry.

Even the chased-after women find it difficult to pick someone who will satisfy their parents. In early 2008, I interviewed Ji Nan, an only child in her 20s who was searching for a husband. When we met, she was an architect. She now works for a magazine which specialises in bridal fashion. She is still single.

Beijing Olympics

For much of my time here, this country was busy preparing for the Beijing Olympics.

James Reynold with his Olympic passesTaxi drivers in the capital were made to wear fresh yellow shirts and to take English lessons. One driver even told us he wrote the answers to the English test on his sleeve. Factories and building sites were shut down in order to clear the city's pollution. Organisers promised a drug-free Olympics.

A year before the Games began, I travelled to northern China to meet a former weightlifter, Zou Chunlan. During her career, she was made to take unidentified supplements. She believes that these were steroids. After she took them, she started to grow facial hair and developed serious health problems.

When we met her, she and her husband were running a laundry with the help of the Chinese Women's Association.

Zou ChunlanTwo years later, she tells us that her business is doing so well that she no longer needs any financial support. She and her husband are now thinking of opening up a second laundry.

The couple watched the Olympics on TV along with the rest of this country. China calls itself "The Middle Kingdom". For two weeks last summer this country truly felt like the centre of the world.

Almost a year later, the Bird's Nest Olympic stadium in Beijing has now become a kind of Chinese Westminster Abbey - a national cathedral visited by thousands of tourists every day.

Since last summer, the two men who were meant to be China's Olympic stars have both run into problems.

The hurdler, Liu Xiang, has yet to recover from the injury which forced him to withdraw from his first race at the Games.

I was in the stadium when he pulled out. A legend has grown up that the crowd reacted to his withdrawal in "stunned silence." I can assure you that this was not the case. No-one in the stadium knew what was going on when Liu Xiang walked away from the starting blocks. We were all far too confused to be silent.

The 7ft 6in basketball player Yao Ming - perhaps China's most recognisable citizen - has now broken his left foot. Reports say that the injury may threaten his career.

In happier times in 2007, I watched Yao Ming walk through Tiananmen Square followed by a crowd of fans who barely reached up to his belt.

So, this country may now have to begin finding a new set of sporting heroes.

Communist Party Leaders

But it's already picked its next set of political leaders. In October 2007, I joined hundreds of reporters in the Great Hall of the People to watch the unveiling of the new nine-member Politburo Standing Committee, the inner circle of Communist Party rulers.

James Reynolds looking through binocularsThe new Committee included two men - Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang - who are expected to rule China for a decade when the current generation of leaders steps down in 2013. The two spent most of their first appearance practising standing still on stage behind the president.

I would love to tell you what the Politburo members are like. But I really have no idea. China offers foreign journalists at best cursory access to its rulers.

During a reception for a visiting African leader, I once got into the same room as China's president, Hu Jintao. But I was sternly told off by an official for speaking during the signing ceremony. Presumably the sound of my voice might have broken the officials' concentration as they signed their names.

The closest I've ever come to an interview with a senior official was when I followed the Commerce Minister, Bo Xilai, down a corridor in the Great Hall of the People. He looked at me with a mixture of discomfort and surprise - you don't do doorstep interviews in China.

Whenever we ask for formal interviews, we're told to send our requests by fax. Chinese government departments seem determined to keep old-fashioned fax machines in business. Our requests are sometimes turned down. They're usually just ignored, as was the case in 2007, when we asked for one-on-one interviews with the entire Politburo. We had to try.

Our most exciting moment came earlier this year when the defence ministry actually returned one of our calls. An official told us that the ministry would consider our request for a trip with the Chinese navy in the South China Sea. Five months later, we have heard nothing more.

Very occasionally, government leaders meet reporters - but only on their own terms. In March, China's Premier Wen Jiabao throws an annual press conference which is so heavily scripted and planned that it's like going to see a (very heavy) play.

Sichuan Earthquake

Above all from my time in China, I will remember the people I met in aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake of 12 May 2008.

Fu XuezongThere was Fu Xuezhong who laid down a flower on the ruins of the school in which his 12-year-old son Fu Tian and said, "Son, your Dad will love you forever."

A year later, an official investigation found that no-one was to blame for the mass collapse of schools in the earthquake. Fu Xuezhong tells us that he believes his chances of getting justice for his son have now gone.

Li Tangmo and his sister QingyiFinally, I will remember 14-year-old Li Tangmo and his 7-year-old sister Qingyi, whose parents were killed in the earthquake. I met them at a shelter in a small stadium. They were being looked after by an uncle and were waiting to find out whether he and his wife would take them in for good.

Li Tangmo told us bravely that he and his sister would go somewhere else if their uncle and aunt didn't want to care for them. He sobbed as he spoke to us. Of all the stories I've covered in my time in China, theirs was the one which affected me the most. A year later, I don't know what's happened to the brother and sister - but I think of them often.

These, then, are the fragments of three years in China.

PS. Thank you for all your comments on this blog over the last year and a bit. I've really appreciated your thoughts.

Comments

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  • 1. At 02:13am on 07 Jul 2009, kenbkk wrote:

    Dear James:

    You have been a wonderful reporter; frank, candid, courageous.

    I have appreciated your news and comments. I will follow your reports whenever I find you on BBC.com

    Thanks a lot!

    Kaoru Saeki, Japan

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  • 2. At 02:38am on 07 Jul 2009, TheMercifulOne wrote:

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

  • 3. At 02:42am on 07 Jul 2009, colrap wrote:

    I am a Canadian-expat who lives and works in Taiwan. I have often read Mr. Reynolds's blogs over the past years and they have helped me to ponder and to give some insight as to what China is about, how quickly it is changing, yet how it is still steeped in its own turbulent past.
    Good luck to Mr. Reynold's in his next posting.
    Colin

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  • 4. At 02:52am on 07 Jul 2009, neonjaymeii wrote:

    I have been reading this page for the past 2 and a half years since I began to study China as a subject in my political studies class at school. Last summer, I travelled to Beijing with a group of friends for 3 weeks, and in 6 weeks time I will move to Shanghai and take a year out of university to teach English as a foreign language.

    I have read this blog thorougly over the past 2 and a bit years and I thank you for giving me an insight into a fascinating country.
    James

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  • 5. At 03:00am on 07 Jul 2009, Shanghai2010 wrote:

    I love my country, I love my wife. Neither one is perfect, believing oneself, or others, or one's country to be perfect is often the sign of a delusional mind.

    Sometimes my wife is late from work and does not call - I forgive her because I understand she is busy.

    Sometimes China gets things a little bit wrong, and I can forgive China as a nation that is emerging from 3000 years of mixed history, cultural diversity and a population that is impossible to manage.

    Sometimes my wife complains to me after I work a 12 hour day that I do not spend enough time with her, so I work less and then all I hear is that I am lazy and we have no money. I don't forgive her this hypocrisy.

    Sometimes China calls itself one thing, yet does another, commits a crime and deflects blame with lies, finger pointing and the old false assertion that "no-one can understand China" I don't forgive my country this hypocrisy.

    Balance, in domestic, social, political and cultural life is so important. Gesturing towards economic progress as a means of justifying poverty in certain quarters is no excuse. Proudly pronouncing the country's economic growth is hardly a comfort to a man and his wife whose 2000RMB per month will not afford them sanitary housing, or guarantee a good future for their children.

    Much of our country is arrogance and defensiveness. The adage "This is how we do it in China" is a lie as "how we do things in China" really depends on "what we want". A man who wants his son to study in a great university abroad will break every cultural, moral and social norm to get what he wants - an no-one will think less of him for it. If he wants to throw up every cultural barrier to progress, convenience and ease to scupper a financial deal, then he will be applauded as a patriot and true blood of China.

    Thank you for reminding us, James Reynolds, that while we can love someone or something, it does not mean it is perfect.

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  • 6. At 03:11am on 07 Jul 2009, Chenyu Wang wrote:

    James I will miss ya, your never-smile face.
    All the best with your next post.
    Enjoy the holiday if BBC gives you one.

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  • 7. At 03:16am on 07 Jul 2009, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    James:
    Thanks for your stories about China and my best wishes to you
    on your next posting for BBC....

    ~Dennis Junior~

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  • 8. At 03:18am on 07 Jul 2009, jameschan6 wrote:

    Dear Mr. Reynolds,

    I enjoy reading your farewell piece on three years of reporting on China. I first went to China on business in 1982, and I've gone to China almost every year (sometimes four times a year) since then. Your reporting resonates with me. China is a difficult place not just for Westerners but also for the Chinese people too. During my many business frustrations, I would complain loudly that one can't get anything done in China without a fight. However, having read your reporting in this article, I realize that I don't even know the depth of suffering that afflicts the many people there. Thank you for reminding us of reality. I wish you the best in your career. James Chan, Philadelphia, PA, USA.

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  • 9. At 03:20am on 07 Jul 2009, kklimmy wrote:

    I think the one thing you need to remember is the Chinese can endure things many people will not. To "EAT BITTERNESS" is what anables them to survive!

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  • 10. At 03:26am on 07 Jul 2009, Maemori wrote:

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

  • 11. At 03:32am on 07 Jul 2009, xueyanedward wrote:

    it was a pleasure to read your blogs over the last few years, kind of like i am loseing a freind! little did i know when you first started, that i would fall in love with a chinese girl and spend alomst a year in china. to bad for the 40 odd million extra guys i guess (i am canadian), but on a serious note, what i get from my extensive traveling all over this great country, is the extream happiness and pride that i witness every where. I would be hard put to find the same level of contentment on such broad scale in our own western countries...

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  • 12. At 03:40am on 07 Jul 2009, HongKong123 wrote:

    Dear James,

    Yes, sadly you guys are only staying for 3 years which is a problem.

    During such a short period it is so much easier to find and focus on current problems and issues that are still popular with the western worlds communist disliking hordes, many of whom would surely change their mind about China in a significant way should they ever bother to go there. Unfortunately people like you do very well at maintaining the myth.

    It is sad that you I three years have not been able to see anything positive in China. Maybe it is about time that you went back to your own country and looked at it with the same tainted glasses. Having lived here for more than 20 years being a Westerner I have seen I company and its people grow stronger and prouder every day, it has opened up to the outside world at a speed never seen in history and Chinese are now travelling the planet in huge numbers both for business and pleasure and they dont defect or run away they can see what is happening and want to be part of it.

    Stay another 20 years and your may have time to digest and really see what is going on up there.

    Best,
    Thomas

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  • 13. At 03:54am on 07 Jul 2009, peterrawlins wrote:

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

  • 14. At 03:56am on 07 Jul 2009, chantow wrote:

    I know China has many problems like corruption, injustice policies, disrespect for human rights and religious freedom...... What I want to say is that protesting and demonstrating aren't going to work in one-party country like China, they are often end up being silenced. That's why we need more wisdom when dealing with China, show her respect and the benefits of being a democratic country.

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  • 15. At 04:08am on 07 Jul 2009, chantow wrote:

    Being able to both English and Chinese language, I have to admit some English media is biased when they report news on China. China is often being portrayed as a evil trying to suck up every last drop of oil or grab any last piece of resource on earth. Wasn't the British Empire doing quite the same thing in the last 18th century? Now UK is one of most respected nation in the world because of her respect for human rights and freedom. Give China time and I have confidence she will change into a better China. China has changed dramatically for the past 30 years on economy and social development. No one understands China better than her people.

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  • 16. At 04:17am on 07 Jul 2009, sleeping666 wrote:

    I am afraid, but you have made a mistake,Chinese government is not what you have said, were you viewing in a positive side,a different world was found! Thank you!

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  • 17. At 04:32am on 07 Jul 2009, gaoqiang wrote:

    I'm surprised there is no mention of pollution. Having lived in China for over 5 years in total and over 2 years in Beijing, there is really nothing as noticeable to me as the grey curtain of pollution that closes on Beijing on a very regular basis. Those that have not lived there (or in some of the even worse polluted cities in China (like Taiyuan) simply can't imagine how bad it is.

    No matter how many skyscrapers they build, how much $ they "loan" the US, how many "engineers" they graduate... they will never have the respect of the world until they change their ridiculous anachronistic government structure.

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  • 18. At 05:06am on 07 Jul 2009, Peter wrote:

    Hey James, many thanks for your work. Every morning here in China I check for an update and get excited when I see there is a new instalment of Reynold's China.
    The title says it all and has been the beauty of the piece - it's one person's impression of a vast and complex situation, not an official history. I respect the way you've always told the story with honesty, affection and courage in the face of criticism.
    Keep well and hope the next posting isn't anywhere too dangerous!
    All best wishes

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  • 19. At 05:08am on 07 Jul 2009, peterrawlins wrote:

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  • 20. At 05:41am on 07 Jul 2009, quickramaswamy wrote:

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  • 21. At 05:57am on 07 Jul 2009, Nick wrote:

    Thanks.

    Are you relieved or sad to be leaving this assignment?
    Who is next, and is the posting seen as a prize or a poisoned chalice?
    Will you miss being in China and being amongst the Chinese?

    Good luck.

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  • 22. At 06:12am on 07 Jul 2009, shenyuan wrote:

    I feel very sorry that the vast majority of memories you have about China in the last three years are on the negative side. China is not perfect, but better than you described in your blog.
    China is a country too big to be very stable. She is still so poor that not everyone's requirements can be fully satisfied. China encounters some problems which European countries never encountered. Sometimes she HAS TO use some special methods to cope with these problems which sound unbelievable from a European point of view. Some problems are solved well but still a lot not solved. It is in such a way that Chinese and Chinese government gradually become wisdom. We are still on the way. We try to think out our own way to organize our society, we try to think our own way to improve our living standards, but we do not copy European way of organizing country because we have totally different backgrounds.
    For those ones who come to China several times in the last three decades, they have seen how the society has improved. For those who know more about Chinese history, they understand nowadays China more. For those who do not know Chinese at all and too confident about their own social structure, I am sorry for these people, you can see only negative part about China. It is true that what you saw depends on your psychological anticipation.
    It is only in the last three decades that China begins to try to be a modern country. The last three decades witness the greatest change in Chinese history. Three decades is really not very long comparing to her several thousands history. Your British society also takes several hundred years to become modern and wisdom.

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  • 23. At 06:28am on 07 Jul 2009, skyelovechina wrote:

    In recent 3 years, I have always been reading your articles. As a chinese, I am quite pleased you could reveal some shortages in this nation but meanwhile I am just wondering WHY you always just focus on these shortages? What kind of mentality you hold to write these reports? I have to say you are a good reporter but you just ignore too many positive sides in China. It's too NARROW MINDED and does not match British style. Just wanna say, China is a big country with most population, give us more time and we will be better.
    And finally, to be honest with you, i am happy to see you leave as you are not that friendly and nice.

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  • 24. At 06:36am on 07 Jul 2009, hizento wrote:

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  • 27. At 08:05am on 07 Jul 2009, OranguTom wrote:

    Best of luck - what are you going to do now? I've enjoyed your blog over the past couple of years. What else have you taken from China? What's your sense about where it;s headed? If the BBC needs a new reporter in Beijing I;m available!

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  • 28. At 08:42am on 07 Jul 2009, GilbertDL wrote:

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  • 29. At 08:45am on 07 Jul 2009, davidwhite44 wrote:

    Many thanks for your excellent and insightful work. Good luck!

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  • 30. At 08:50am on 07 Jul 2009, waitinghk wrote:

    Thanks. It's a nice summary of a foreign correspondent's life in China.
    You blog is an interesting one: interesting topics, attracting some interesting comments.

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  • 31. At 08:51am on 07 Jul 2009, Walsh of Wembley wrote:

    We'll miss your blog James! Just remember all those overseas critics you met on here choose to live in the West, and not China! Strange eh?

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  • 32. At 08:56am on 07 Jul 2009, I_love_China wrote:

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  • 33. At 09:47am on 07 Jul 2009, Jordan D wrote:

    A quick look at the screen names whilst comments above await moderation tells me that you're probably going to be shown the welcome mat with joy by some.

    I on the other hand have enjoyed your dispatches from China and thoroughly welcomed the insight you've given to Chinese society. Do hope the next posting treats you well.

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  • 34. At 09:48am on 07 Jul 2009, seanxie wrote:

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  • 38. At 10:44am on 07 Jul 2009, KlarCAN wrote:

    I have enjoyed your reporting over the years from Middle East and China. Look forward to your future work.

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  • 39. At 10:45am on 07 Jul 2009, josedenniolim wrote:

    I admire your courage for being able to report in a country where there is almost no press freedom. You have actually risked your life by reporting news that would not appear on China's state media. You have rendered a great service to the world. I do hope you'll be assigned in regions that need more press coverage like Africa.

    All the best for Mr. Reynolds from here in the Philippines! :D

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  • 40. At 11:00am on 07 Jul 2009, peterrawlins wrote:

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  • 42. At 11:04am on 07 Jul 2009, bsamuel wrote:

    James

    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all of your work for the last few years, I regularly check the site for anything new from your desk. I will miss your insight and wish you all the best for your next assignment.

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  • 43. At 11:09am on 07 Jul 2009, onjournalism wrote:

    As a BBC journalist, James has done a much better job than many of his colleagues back at home.
    Working abroad, especially in China, requires tremendous energy, courage and resilience.
    Thanks and good luck with your next job!


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  • 44. At 11:18am on 07 Jul 2009, Hulder wrote:

    James,

    A touching set of memories. I've enjoyed both your reporting and personal insights.

    Good luck in your next assignment.

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  • 45. At 11:24am on 07 Jul 2009, dwkchoi wrote:

    Hello James

    thank you for your blogs in the past 3 years, i think i've read most of your posting since i discovered it 2 years ago, I enjoy reading it, they are both educational and good reading. I kind of have mixed feeling towards China, for I spent my 1st 15 yrs in HK, 2nd 15 yrs in England, and most recent 15yrs back in HK again, moved back before 1997, in time to see the handover of HK back to China. I really hope China can 'evolve' into a more democratic society, with a truly independent judicial system, and some kind of ICAC (anti-corruption) unit developed like the one in HK, then China will be equal among all western.
    PS: this morning I was thinking about all the British Standards that Britain developed for always everything, so if anyone at the top from China is reading this, may be China should start to develop their own CS (Chinese Standard), but from a safety and functional purpose, not from political or commercial purpose.

    anyway, good luck to your next adventure.
    cheers
    David.

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  • 46. At 11:40am on 07 Jul 2009, dazzleh wrote:

    I have to agree with some of the comments above, that your reporting on China has been overly critical. It's good that someone has been able to report on some of the flaws, but every article I've read by you has only covered the negatives and has had no balanced viewpoint, perpetuating the western myth of 'big bad' China.

    There are many things wrong with the country, just as in the UK, but having spent time in China and Hong Kong I can say that the people I met there are generally a lot more satisfied than those here. I appreciate that more attention is generally given to negative news anyway, but I think you had a responsibility to convey something of real Chinese life in your reports and have failed to do this. I could write similar articles on the UK, focusing on things like the police shooting an innocent man on the tube and the lack of subsequent justice, corrupt politicians syphoning off public money to pay for duck houses, huge issues with drink related problems that the government is unable to make an impact on etc etc. Yes, maybe some of these aren't as bad as some of the worst failings in China, but many of the points you make in your articles are no worse than these, and we don't have the benefit of any positive reporting to balance these out.

    I hope the next reporter in China continues to unveil the dark side of the country, but also looks to make more complimentary note of the progress and change that is happening in the land they are a guest in.

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  • 47. At 11:43am on 07 Jul 2009, netjumper wrote:

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  • 48. At 11:54am on 07 Jul 2009, Abbas1984 wrote:

    I'm a foreigner Dutch actually and have been in China for 3 years orso, working and studying with Chinese. I can see the irritation from Chinese my age with western media. Most know their government is not flawless, but then none of our governments are really. I must say that although i think many parts of the journo's reporting are correct, he does focus on the negative things a bit to obvious.

    China is a pretty decent place to live, its different but i have enjoyed it. Although im sure the government suppresses people, and doesnt value much opinion of its people, its easy to always bash them for it, without recognizing the problems they face governing such a huge country.

    I do feel many people are left behind in China, i can see it in the streets, but also this is normal in a country big as China still developing with a large part of the country still very poor.

    As for the western journalism i think its as honest as xinhua's reporting
    is transparent and honest..... not very much!

    Anyways the Chinese will resolve their conflicts the way they do.. and will develop the way they wish and see fit...now people opinions might be suppressed but nobody can stop the people from getting smarter and more educated, so things will change according to how the Chinese want them to change in the future. It not correct for Western media and people to decide or always comment on how things are supposed to be.

    In my personal opinion Democracy is good..but people need to be educated to have it succeed. If such a large percentage is still poor its bound to fail. Also there are plenty " democracies " around the world that are useless. Most important thing is a government is for its people, and I do feel the Chinese government is doing ok.

    Change will come in time!

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  • 49. At 12:03pm on 07 Jul 2009, XuJason wrote:

    Appreciate your works. You give me the total new view about my country, although sometimes I do not agree with your opinion.

    Hope you can give us more great reports in the future. Good luck!

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  • 50. At 12:37pm on 07 Jul 2009, bertiebond wrote:

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  • 51. At 12:47pm on 07 Jul 2009, Henman Bill wrote:

    It's right that you are critical of China.

    The fact that they suppress freedom of speech and other human rights is very important. I think people are too kind to China.

    There's no way they should have had the Olympics.

    One little negative criticism regarding the comment that you "wondered if he ever got the justice he wanted." Perhaps as a reporter you could have gone back and found out?

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  • 52. At 12:52pm on 07 Jul 2009, returningNickball wrote:

    Having left China a year and half ago, after spending over 2 years working in Guangzhou, I have indulged in this blog religiously. China is a country of contrasts; replete with enduring ancient culture and customs, physical beauty and humanity. Indeed, I recognise and share many of the sentiments expressed so skillfully by James Reynolds.

    All too often China is criticsed, ipso facto, because the government adheres to a doctrine that some in the West cannot stomach. These armchair critics are usually the ones who do not care to travel or discover the truth for themselves, and are so deeply entrenched in their systematic sanctity that they cannot see the wood for the trees.

    I would not go so far as to say I'm pro-Chinese, but I respect the country and its citizens for the immeasurrable progress that has been made in recent years, the increasing openness, the proliferation of oppourtunity and the desire to look forward, and not dwell on a painful past. China is evolving and will play a fundamental role in the global community, and I welcome that prospect. Thank you James for articulating your experiences and insights so candidly.

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  • 53. At 1:14pm on 07 Jul 2009, the1armedman wrote:

    I have enjoyed your reports from China for the last three years, and I read your blog regularly. Good luck for your next posting.

    David.

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  • 54. At 1:18pm on 07 Jul 2009, otheronesview wrote:

    so glad of having read them have more of them?

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  • 55. At 1:21pm on 07 Jul 2009, Tylvickers wrote:

    Wonderfully insightful and balanced reporting. Your coverage of the earthquake revealed so many interesting aspects to Chinese society.

    I look forward to reports from your next posting.

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  • 56. At 1:24pm on 07 Jul 2009, jonofun71 wrote:

    Dear James,
    I find your reports extremely informative and note that some of the comments have been critical of you, as a western journalist. It appears that the authories, who you say treat you and keep you as an outsider, have prevented you from fully getting under the country's leadership in the way that we get access to in the UK. As an employee of the corporation, i wonder whether you feel that 3 years is a sufficient time period to immerse yourself in one country's culture and be able to accurately report on events. What period of time would you choose, if you could?
    Thank you for your reports from China and i look forward to seeing future reports from your new posting.
    Best wishes,
    Jonathan

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  • 57. At 1:26pm on 07 Jul 2009, Sunny wrote:

    James,
    I appreciate the hardwork and effort put into your reporting. But what I am consistently disappointed with is the fact that it seemed that there was nothing good or nice to report about China. Everything was like depressing, scary, sorrowful, unworthy of any appreciation or talking good about. It was like as if, you wanted to visit this place just to put it down and make it look like the people in this country are the saddest folks alive. Did you not find anything happy to report about at all?
    Regards
    Sunny Street

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  • 58. At 1:33pm on 07 Jul 2009, Black_wood wrote:

    I am from the UK and have never visited China. I'm compelled to write after seeing much of your BBC News reports. What struck me quite strongly is that you never seemed to enjoy being there. Many of your reports had a sneering tone, and the impression given is that China is full of sad, weird people. I remember you more or less saying that all Chinese politicians look the same, your amateur attempts to measure air pollution (this was subsequently a non-issue in the games), and reporting on people queuing all day long for tickets as if they were a bunch of sad losers. It sounded as if you were willing the Olympics to be a disaster. A story about the army blowing up unstable dams/re-routing rivers post-quake was portrayed an example of authoritarian displacement of people rather than an extroadinary attempt to save thousands of lives. China obviously has serious issues, but let us not forget that many serious injustices afflict growing numbers of people in the UK -where your self righteousness comes from i've no idea. You certainly seemed to put your own views/predjudices at the front of your reports which is a shame. These are my fragments from the last 3 years.

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  • 59. At 1:35pm on 07 Jul 2009, peacedreamfollower wrote:

    Thank you!

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  • 60. At 1:37pm on 07 Jul 2009, Sunliren wrote:

    Dear James,

    Over these years thank you very much for widening my sight about China - my Motherland. I sincerely hope that we can se China as a better place in the reachable future. The things happened after the earthquake in Shicun have completely ripped off my hopes on the Chinese government. May those corrupted officials receive the worst punishments ever exist.

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  • 61. At 1:37pm on 07 Jul 2009, Smilechn wrote:

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  • 62. At 1:39pm on 07 Jul 2009, ghostofsichuan wrote:

    The Chinese are the Chinese. Once again they have moved their rulers into becoming Chinese (the Chinese Way of doing things). China now looks like China has always looked, rich in Beijing and the East coast and poor in the West. The distinctions of rich and poor, powerful and powerless and the uneven hand of justice, combined with an intolerance for opposition. Corruption is the mainstay of Chinese business and politics and because of this the future is clouded. The West has sold its middle class and economic foundations for cheap Chinese labor and goods. China maintains relationships with governments in Burma, North Korea and Iran, not the friendliest bunch in world politics. The government of China will change or be changed as that is the Chinese way. The horrors of the Cultural Revolution remain in the minds of many and like the Great Depression in the West, that expereince will filter through at least another generation. China is like the atheletes you mentioned, great potential but hampered by injuries. The Chinese were captialist before there was the term and at some point will be democratic. Until that time I mourn for the people in the mountains of Sichuan.

    I know a Han woman from Xinjiang, who as a little girl was taught ethnic dances by the Uighers. She always speaks so fondly and with such joy of that time in her childhood.

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  • 63. At 1:43pm on 07 Jul 2009, 2009LondonJV wrote:

    Dear James
    As a Chinese person, I appreciate your objective report regarding these sensitive issues. It helps me to understand my own country better although it does sometimes cause pain and ache. However I believe as spending three years in China you could understand how proud Chinese are and how we see us as a whole that we simply block any criticisms from outside even though secretly we blame ourselves for many wrongdoings.
    There are many problems inside China. We do see them. And I agree that we try to ignore them. It sometimes makes me angry, however, that people from outside China pick on China simply because we have a different system. (I used simply here but I understand it is far beyond simple.) Human rights is a rifle that anyone can pick up from the ground and fire at China. I appreciate that you talked about issues rather than simply concluding it as the result of lacking of Human Rights. In your article, you mentioned,
    The Chinese Communist Party prefers to focus attention on its efforts to raise people's living standards - it argues that economic progress is a much more accurate measurement of human rights
    True, I thought. Thats truly a statement the government provokes and we, with no surprise, all believe in. But I started to question recently - is it only by sacrificing some peoples rights that people born in a good family can live in the standard we are now (I have to admit that I have quite a pleasant life, thanks to my successful parents and grandparents)? There is no doubt that there is always a gap between the rich and the poor (although it seems to be against the communisms value). My question is to what extent that a country grows or a society develops that people in the higher social position will start caring about the poor, like the West do? Is China in that stage yet? I know it sounds selfish but imaging you are just surviving from food deprivation, the memory of hungry stomach is still haunting in your head, is it a natural reaction of being only thinking about yourself? Thats pretty much the Chinese.
    Inevitably, the topic has to come to Human Rights. By having a family in the UK I truly appreciate the system here and that each individuals rights are very much taken seriously into consideration. I can also see why Human Rights are so difficult to spread in China. We have a very long history and together with hundreds of revolutions something didnt happen very often in the British history. It seems normal to the Chinese that if anything went wrong with the system or the monarchy, we just overthrew it and then set up a new one. Revolution just makes so much sense that evolution barely exists in anybodys minds. Thats why the Chinese government prevents Human Rights. That giving individual rights indicates the risk of them bringing down the central power. Since none of the emperor and the citizens has patience to negotiate and wait for evolution, revolution seems to be the most possible consequence of any disagreements between the two groups. As the majority of the Chinese only want to progress and improve their lives after so many years in war, peace is something we couldnt want less. The government knows it and hints that if citizens follow the unspoken rules, they shall have the peace they long for. As we are so desperate to thrive, so desperate for peace, we have no choice but accept it. And the reason why those among us who want to abandon the rules or break the rules receive very little sympathy and attention is because we are so worried that these people will destroy our new built lives and that Chinas rise is only a dream demolishes as soon as we wake up.
    If what I wrote sounds like defending China that please forgives me as it wasnt my original purpose.

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  • 64. At 1:46pm on 07 Jul 2009, shirley1982 wrote:

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  • 65. At 1:50pm on 07 Jul 2009, shirley1982 wrote:

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  • 66. At 1:53pm on 07 Jul 2009, lotuswanderer wrote:

    I have enjoyed your many insightful blogs -they have really helped me understand a little more about my heritage , even as I have never stepped foot in China. Good luck in your next posting.

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  • 67. At 2:02pm on 07 Jul 2009, vinelife wrote:

    James,
    Great expression of meaningful thoughts and experiences. After reading what you've written here on your departure from China and remembering your reports on the BBC World News broadcast, I feel like I've been there and you have confirmed any impressions I might have had by the content of your reports written and visual. I speak from experience of living outside my own country for more than 20 years. I can clearly imagine what you have seen and your reporting touched me as I can relate to what you've said. You have given me a window on the truth that is out there. Thank you!

    Thanks for being an excellent reporter in my thinking. I was not a blog member, but after reading some negative comments I felt it my obligation to send you a note of appreciation and encouragement. Some people don't know what they are talking about. It is not an easy task to be a correspondent on a difficult assignment in a place where people live in desperation everyday of their lives. I consider you one of the best. I look forward to your future reports from wherever you find yourself. BBC does well to keep you happy and fulfilled. All the best always.

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  • 68. At 2:24pm on 07 Jul 2009, derek_boom wrote:

    Many Thanks James,

    I learned a lot from your observations - and sometimes provocations - and in particular from the comments from Chinese nationalists and not-so-nationalists, who responded to your postings. We will miss your blog in this difficult moment in Chinese history. Will anyone take over this blog from you? It will be very much appreciated. Go with the wind!

    Good luck,
    Derek

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  • 69. At 2:25pm on 07 Jul 2009, aeroarchie wrote:

    I hope BBC's new guy in China does not practise "selective truth" reporting.

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  • 70. At 2:27pm on 07 Jul 2009, rabten wrote:

    Thank you James for your fine reporting.
    I have been very impressed with your work. Don't get swayed away by the comments about you being biased or only covering negative stories, they probably don't know the concept of "checks and balances" and media's real role in society.
    I get my good, fun and positive stories from Xinhua, other Communist Propaganda Mouth-pieces and communist loving foreigners. I look for the real underlying reasons, unbiased, relevant and appropriate stories on James' blog.
    PS: Didn't see about Tibetan and Uighur "riots"; thought those were somewhat of a big deal.

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  • 71. At 2:37pm on 07 Jul 2009, Godasse wrote:

    James, my only regret is that you didn't actually show the worst sides of China such as the tens of thousands of falungong followers who disappear forever just for their religious belief.

    As soon as we criticize China for minor problems we get bullied by the Chinats on this blog (or even by the foreigners who have been in China too long and choose to shut their eyes). So why not go straight to where it really hurts?

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  • 72. At 2:38pm on 07 Jul 2009, drmilimili wrote:

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  • 73. At 2:39pm on 07 Jul 2009, sheriffCartman wrote:

    Thanks. For nothing I guess. You've simply reinforced a western impression of a foreign society, whilst not really persuading (rather offending) the Chinese readers. I can't say I've really been enlightened about how China "works". I only feel the British sense of superiority prevalent in all these posts. Hope you make a better job of your next posting.

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  • 74. At 2:44pm on 07 Jul 2009, beijing_ren wrote:

    James, I've thoroughly enjoyed reading this blog - you will be missed!! It feels like I've been on a journey with you - you the English chap in Beijing, me the Chinese girl in England.

    Please start a new blog whereever you're dispatched to. I'll make an effort to read it!

    So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye! Please come and visit China sometime in the future :) Zhu ni yi qie shun li! (wishing you every success) All the best in your new post.

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  • 75. At 3:03pm on 07 Jul 2009, thisisacryforhelp wrote:

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  • 76. At 3:06pm on 07 Jul 2009, thisisacryforhelp wrote:

    If I were the BBC I would like to keep James in China for a bit longer.

    James is a good reporter.

    Thank you.

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  • 77. At 3:14pm on 07 Jul 2009, davon1 wrote:

    Well James where ever you have been in the world you have given really interesting and factual reporting on the situation you have been in. I will miss you in China...Good Luck where ever you are posted to next.

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  • 78. At 3:48pm on 07 Jul 2009, Jeffrey Gibbs wrote:

    James,
    I liked your reference to Bo Xi-lai in the Great Hall of the People corridor. I'll tell you one thing: there are of course men like him, famous sons of previous leaders, who are at ease and secure in those heavy and mysterious corridors of power. But I personally know one man, a former provincial vice governor and vice provincial CCP secretary who is now a minister, who is himself instinctively courteous, open and elegant in his dealings with western contacts: and I have nodoubt that even he (privately and behind closed doors) finds, as you have seen from your own experiences of the 'power-centre', alot to be concerned about, and sometimes scared about, within the corridors of power of a remote leadership that deals (often, too heavy-handedly, we can all agree) with macro-problems affecting 1.3b people. I hope that your next post is as fulfilling personally. You rarely spoke of private-life in BJ; hope you managed to carve-out a happy one, despite restrictions, and watchers!?

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  • 79. At 4:00pm on 07 Jul 2009, XYHUANG wrote:

    Hello James,

    I think you help me better understand the common view shared by majority of western media. But I am really surprised to see the report from you, what I meant is that there is so little difference between yours and major reporters who never been to China.

    I come from China and now live in UK, and work as a senior manager in a big company in London. Before this position I was a seniro manager in same company in China until the end of 2008. So perhaps I could share my thinking about the 'Fact or Truth' you reported.

    To be honest, I think most of your reports are ture or at least showing 'Fact', base on my experience in China. But I have to say, it may be only the 'Fact or Truth' you or people like you want to see. This desire sometimes blind you eyes to other things. In a developing country, such as China, you always find it easier to find something wrong or bad. Because 'developing' is always linked with 'problems and issues', according to the history of great democracy development in western leading countries. In normal Chinese people's life, they may experience something which mentioned in you blog, but I believe that's not the whole life for them, and the majority of Chinese people would share same points with me. In a common western thinking style, you need to collect data or proof as much as possible before you make a desicion, a conclusion or a judgement. So if you only have particial data, or only the data supporting your predetermined thinking, what kind of result you will have.

    So we have to ask 'What's the point?' of your blog. Think about if someone take your 'Fact and Truth' as a good reference to understand China, as she/ he hasn't been to China before, due to 'BBC and 3 years in China' is so powerful and convinced, it's not hard to assume what kind of thinking will be adopted by them. But again I don't think this 'copy and planted' thinking is helpful for western people. Please be responsible for your loyal audience.

    I am really sorry about that what you are trying to do is just to enhance the thinking that 'What we are being told about China (by our gorvernments and medias) are true and complete, that's all for China!', even though many people already realized the big difference bewteen 'the stories being told in their own countries' and 'their own experience in China'.

    Finnaly I am just a normal Chinese but with a little more experience than average about life outside China. I love my country and also realize that there are many things annoying or need to be improved in China. If I want to make a friend, I would not think about and broadcast her/his disadvantage as wide as possible, beceause I know she/he has more good faces than bad faces, otherwise I could not make friend with her/him, unless you don't like her/him.

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  • 80. At 4:47pm on 07 Jul 2009, brightbernice wrote:

    James it is an absolute pleasure to listen/watch your reports, no matter from where you are reporting, be middle or far east. I trust you bring as much interest from you next posting.

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  • 81. At 4:49pm on 07 Jul 2009, state_clark wrote:

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  • 82. At 5:48pm on 07 Jul 2009, Modernllama wrote:

    I wish I read this. The blog looks fascinating.

    Change looks like it's going to be hard with over zealous censoring and no freedom of speech. All i can hope is that change does eventually occur.

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  • 83. At 5:58pm on 07 Jul 2009, Wicked_Witch_of_the_West_Coast wrote:

    Ah well James - at least you won't have the usual hordes complaining about your un-necessarily negative attitude to China or things Chinese to deal with any more - I mean, really, how could you ever find anything negative to say about China??

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  • 84. At 6:02pm on 07 Jul 2009, TheMercifulOne wrote:

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  • 85. At 6:35pm on 07 Jul 2009, modagr8 wrote:

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  • 86. At 7:12pm on 07 Jul 2009, westernbias wrote:

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  • 87. At 7:24pm on 07 Jul 2009, dothiepin wrote:

    Mr Reynolds,

    I read your article with utter incredulity. Perhaps the BBC has a casual relationship with balanced reporting, something which I think is the duty of any reporter, particularly from a body which is normally held in such high regard. Your position in reaching such a wide audience is a most enviable one, but it is a position that should not be abused. And I feel, most regrettably, you have abused it.

    I am sure the events you chose to mention were very impressionable on you, such as a successful girl living in the city with no partner, or the fact you were not allowed to speak during an obviously important ceremony. I find that strange. I live and work in London. Presumably you have too. I see single people all the time. Hardly news worthy.

    And I have been thrown out of a school chapel service for talking. Again, not news worthy. But there are similarities to my being thrown out as a teenager from the service and you being told off sternly. I didn't agree with the views of the institution (I am not a Christian), and you, if I may be so bold and suggest, probably don't see eye to eye with the Chinese government. But where we differ is that I have learnt since that incident. I have learnt that we must respect others, even if we do not agree. You obviously do not agree and even lack the most basic respect. If you thought that through your disrespect you could achieve some greater good, say, hand in that old man's petition, then, perhaps, I might regard you differently. But your account just seems like a childish and bitter because you got a telling off.

    If this article is any reflection on your previous works, then this is bad reporting. Every country has their short-comings. Some more than others. Some are less experienced, still developing. But all have positive aspects, as many of your commentors have already pointed out. Your entire article showed a juvenile mocking attitude towards an entire nation, without any depth of analysis that one would expect from a BBC reporter.

    The one child policy for example, do you think China introduced that for some sadistic pleasure in controlling its people? Or was it because in post-war China there were forseeable food shortages (one fifth of the world's population if you didn't know) and the government then, rightly or wrongly, deemed that it was preferable to limit the rights of everyone rather than allowing the country to descend into a state where only the wealthy had food for their families. Perhaps there are better ways to limit population, like the Singaporean government's policy of financial incentives. These are finer points of a broader debate. But you do not even introduce that debate. You merely state your prejudices as facts, without respect for your readers to read the facts and opinions from both sides, your opinion, before finally deciding for themselves.

    I hope you will find the time to respond to many of your readers who have felt it need to comments, and I hope that gradually, as you mature in your career, you will learn, among many other things, that sometimes whispering in the back will result in a slap on the wrist.

    Olivia

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  • 88. At 7:37pm on 07 Jul 2009, flyingomelette wrote:

    Hi James, I've enjoyed reading your blog from time to time, in addition to reading other articles on the Asia-Pacific. I certainly hope you find similar success in your future endeavors.

    As an American steeped in generally unreliable news sources, I appreciate the diversity of views from the BBC, especially its correspondents such as yourself.

    As someone who has a Chinese background (parents from Taiwan) I always appreciate learning more about the going-ons of China, even if its not always in the most favorable of contexts. We all deserve the truth, even if the truth challenges our faith in people. I would challenge the naysayers to use it as inspiration to affect positive change around them.

    Again, good luck to all that you will do.

    -Jason
    Rolling Meadows, USA



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  • 89. At 7:54pm on 07 Jul 2009, Attila2000 wrote:

    3 years in China writting the usual negative things about the political party in place. Not far from a typical gossip magazine writer.
    Are these the only themes that keep the Western readers focused on your articles. If so you should also publish some articles about the British brutality in their colonies, especially in India.
    For sure, we won't miss you here in China, Capice !?

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  • 90. At 8:38pm on 07 Jul 2009, RoastDuck wrote:

    Good luck!

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  • 91. At 8:57pm on 07 Jul 2009, Deepredwarrior wrote:

    James: I've been reading your blog for 3 years. Yes, you are a GOOD PERSON, but you've been toeing the line for your BBC Masters for too long. Trying to keep the job, I guess.

    As an overseas Chinese who has lived in China for several decades, I can tell you that the "rule of thumb" about China is that the country is 70 % getting better, while 30 % getting worse. You'll find this ratio EVERYWHERE you look in China. Unfortunately, your BBC Masters and other biased Western press just focus on reporting that 30 % and ignor the bigger picture in China. Too bad, for you.

    By the way, China is ranked a lot higher on the Happy Planet Index than your U.K.. Yes, Chinese people are more optimistic and happy.

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  • 92. At 9:09pm on 07 Jul 2009, Taopuyi wrote:

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  • 93. At 9:17pm on 07 Jul 2009, Scott Humm wrote:

    I've thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog for the past few years. You have provided an insight into the workings of China that few are lucky enough to experience. Thank you for that, it's been invaluable.

    On another point, have they appointed the new BBC correspondent yet? BBC, if you're reading this, I'm free and eager...!

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  • 94. At 9:23pm on 07 Jul 2009, vinelife wrote:

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  • 95. At 9:34pm on 07 Jul 2009, fairreport wrote:

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  • 96. At 10:27pm on 07 Jul 2009, pwmclear wrote:

    Hey James!

    You surprises me with all your views on China this first time i m on. Strange tones fill out the report and it does sound pathetic of you 'suffering' your 3 years in China.

    Yet i noticed some of your colleagues, or westerners, coming from a different culture but still accepting and enjoying another oriental culture, while your last paragraphs seemed even disappointed with a successful olympic when chinese people tried hard with English to make better communication with people from other worlds.

    I see your report as one that aims at depressing people from accepting others, refraining them from exploring big changes across the world now.

    It is truely depressing me that this report will have greater impact on those who would just like to 'talk' and 'research' on China without any neutral experience even close to it.

    Still, I wish you every success in your new explorations to other worlds and hope you could, next time, be active with the fast changing world.
    Still, i wish you every success in your new exploration of the other world.

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  • 97. At 10:44pm on 07 Jul 2009, yifanwang99 wrote:

    I believe most of the time, you're trying to be impartial, despite your reports contains quite a lot of negativities about PRC. the truth is, that there IS a lot(not just "a little" or "ah, not really perfect" that's sometimes claimed) negativities in the PRC now such as the somewhat corrupt justice system, the unfortunately authoritarian government, most people still dont have a clue what the hell happened in 1989, ethnic conflict at far-away provinces, sproadic police brutalities, riots, etc etc.

    However, having lived in China for 15 years and being a Chinese-British myself, I will still whole-heartedly point out that there is also a lot of positives, booming cities, certain areas do enjoy a degree of freedom and democracy (for example, Shenzhen, and to a certain extent, Shanghai), improving standards of life, and more freedom than ever before(which you noticed, to your credit), and some leaders in the party are good and honest(of course some are bad corrupt).

    Sometimes I do complain that you focused too much on negativities, but having also lived in England for 10 years, I found that the media in the West generally focuse on scrutiny and criticism, on almost anyone, be it China, USA, Gordon Brown, GWBush,Obama, Clinton, or whatever.

    Good luck in your next assignment and I hope that the next China Correspondent from BBC will also be writing blogs.

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  • 98. At 01:57am on 08 Jul 2009, john adams wrote:

    i'm just starting to like you, and now you are leaving? i'm a bit sad

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  • 99. At 02:40am on 08 Jul 2009, peterrawlins wrote:

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  • 100. At 04:31am on 08 Jul 2009, Simonoch wrote:

    Hi James,
    Had read you stories, it is quite obvilusly that your assignments assgined by BBC were looking for negative stuff about China. How come your first sight you arrived china was full of petioners and dissidents? im working in a western country with all my colleagues are europeans, some of them had been china at least once and all of them enjoyed the time there. Nearly all of their fist sight about china is the amzing ecconomical acchivement and the modern cities which should not look like that in their mind before they go to china; after they stay china for a while, they start realsing the problems of china include politics, income gap and so on; but few years after they left china, the most memoral thing for them is their nice chinese friends there. So i presume the normal sight of westerns who had been china is: positive-negative-positive.

    probably journalists especical for western journalists are different from normal people, they prefer to see riots in china rather than who won the golden models in Olympic games. This is really sick!

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  • 101. At 04:46am on 08 Jul 2009, lixiao7 wrote:

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  • 102. At 05:47am on 08 Jul 2009, ProudHongKonger wrote:

    I wish I had more time to read all your despatches. I do not know how proficient you are in Chinese. However, the insight you have given us into Chinese society, culture, people and national characters is simply superb. Perhaps those who criticised you for China-bashing should realise that sometimes it takes a foreigner to help a country to analyse itself using paradigms it is not familiar with, instead of being defensive and hiding behind the adage that China will do things the Chinese way.

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  • 103. At 06:04am on 08 Jul 2009, robbyyu2002 wrote:

    James, you are so wrong about China. I thought that I could expect more from you, but you failed to deliver. You maximize the problems in China, minimize the increasing freedoms that people in China are enjoying, and neglect the ever-growing opportunities in China that are benefiting local Chinese, as well as bringing westerners/africans/Asians like you to China for business/leasure travel.

    I went to China in November, 2008 and stayed there for about 4 weeks.
    I saw a China where young people are having jobs that their parents wish they had when they were young,
    I saw a China where people are proud of its hosting the wonderful Olympics games and holding celebrations,
    I saw a China where people work hard and value family time with parent/children, and just be happy though not rich,
    I saw a China with big pollution problems,
    I saw a China where people are so angry that government did not compensate them enough while demolishing their houses/apartments for public roads/buildings/business center/industrial parks,
    I saw a China with joy and sadness,
    Most of all, I saw a China with the majority of people being optimitic about the future and anticipating new opportunities

    I was expecting some balanced reports from you, but you are making biased reports, especially if you reported from/lived in China for 3 years. Your reporting is very misleading for people wanting to know China, and now an increasing number of people want to know China while reading blogs/news/books. You are doing harm, instead of offering your experience as some guide for people before they go to visit China.

    Thanks for your time reading.
    Robert

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  • 104. At 06:46am on 08 Jul 2009, charliechuan wrote:

    i thank you for your stay in china. you have brought a true sense of how life in china to the world and made a lot people like me as expat from china to know thr progress and the negative aspect of china today. it remind us again how far china need to be changed to join the world and made a better place for people there to live. Thanks.

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  • 105. At 07:50am on 08 Jul 2009, qinren wrote:

    We never expect a westner carrying prejudice and arrogance release a positive report on China. Nearly every western media are reporting China in a sneering tone, and try to give the world the impression that China is full of sad, weird people. But, I myself, a common Chinese, are very proud of our development and will try our best to build a more splended China, though we know still a lot of problems to be sovled in our motherland, we have the confidence to solve our problems. Seeing is believing, for those cheering this guy for his only negative insight report, come and visit China, see how the people here fight against poverty, judge there are more happiness or more sadness from each and every common Chinese face.

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  • 106. At 08:40am on 08 Jul 2009, firescorpy wrote:

    James,

    you have been a wonderful journalist and even as a Chinese, you have undoubtedly given me a better perspective on my own nation. I hope China had been good to you and you are always welcome back again!

    -Satoshi

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  • 107. At 08:50am on 08 Jul 2009, ChinaOrg wrote:

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

  • 108. At 09:31am on 08 Jul 2009, huangyepaomo wrote:

    Mr James
    Obviously, most people who support you are not native Chinese.
    Maybe their points are removed by the editor
    So I doubt the truth of your reports, if you really hold justice , please say truth.
    Thanks!
    A guy who live in China longer than you

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  • 109. At 10:05am on 08 Jul 2009, beijing_2059 wrote:

    Initially I didn't want to post any more comments here, until I read the excellent comment by Black_wood: "...What struck me quite strongly is that you never seemed to enjoy being there. Many of your reports had a sneering tone, and the impression given is that China is full of sad, weird people..."

    I, as a Chinese, may be biased in commenting on your reporting style, however, judging from this reader's reaction, I have to congratulate you for having accomplished your goal of painting a grim picture of China to someone who had never visited the country.

    I, after reading so many biased reports from BBC, was ready to give up any hope of arguing or discussing with any westerners, since the arrogant attitude and the feeling of superiority have made them lost the sense of justice. I must thank you, Black_wood, you changed my opinion. As we say in Chinese, "hearing is deceiving, seeing is believing". Only fools will be dictated by others view. Think and check for yourself.

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  • 110. At 10:44am on 08 Jul 2009, XIONGWEI wrote:

    Hey Jamez,

    Great post to sum up ur 3-year adventure, I would say you did a fairly brilliant broacasting job as a corespondent invovling within some of very dylamic, turbulent and controverisal zones, I've been constantly following up your stories / blogs when I was studying in London, really appretiate all the efforts you've made to cover news over the Sichuan Earthquake,and I belive you've been to my hometown DUJIANGYAN couple of times, but I wasn't able to return to DJY due to some reasons back then, so reading your live news coverage online and watching ur live report at BBC 1 10'o clock news truely helped me to understand what has been really going on out there, and what a tremendous pain people are suffering up till now from aftermath, one of your blog post named particulary after 'An orphan chokes back sobs' still greatly touched me deep down inside and trembled every part of my thoughts.great to read that you've made this story as one of your 3-year highlightS. Well done, funny that you are about to leave China for somewhere else, and my 4-year oversea studying life back to London is up and I gotta come back to China and get move on..keep it rolling!!!

    Farewell, Adios, all the best to you and wish the best of best with your next adventure.

    Xiong Wei @ C.D.

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  • 111. At 11:13am on 08 Jul 2009, justinjia wrote:

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  • 112. At 11:28am on 08 Jul 2009, justinjia wrote:

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  • 113. At 11:58am on 08 Jul 2009, justinjia wrote:

    To Vinelife:
    love your thoughts and welcome more! but just a simple note, how do u know all that about china,its people are living in a bubble of proud? personal experience? or merely hearsay? if a bubble is all it takes for 1/4 of the world's population to be content with their life, then i say let's package the whole world in the bubble. justify yourself or i'l have to say you are just one of those biased cynicals.

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  • 114. At 12:02pm on 08 Jul 2009, davidwhite44 wrote:

    Half of these posts are written by people who haven't posted in 3 years but then suddenly post. It's almost as if the same person is writing them and changing their story and style a little.. Surely not...

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  • 115. At 12:10pm on 08 Jul 2009, justinjia wrote:

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  • 116. At 12:43pm on 08 Jul 2009, snsgenius wrote:

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  • 117. At 1:05pm on 08 Jul 2009, jerrychen wrote:

    Hi,James,

    In the recent two years,I had a habit reading your blog always.That was the years I went to Europe,studying and knowing more about the world and my country. Your contribution makes it a very direct and opposite view from a western reporter and makes me know more about the truth.Whether right or not,you've already gave me some knowledge I didn't have before.

    Thank you for your work.Good luck with your future work.

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  • 118. At 1:09pm on 08 Jul 2009, Dougall wrote:

    Dear James

    I don't know what I will do with my lunch breaks now I no longer have your China blogs to read! I broadly trust the impressions that you have shared with us although I sometimes take it with a small pinch of salt because naturally you seek out the news items that are, rightly or wrongly, of perpetual interest to your home audience. Nevertheless many times you came through with a unique perspective on something I had never heard of before, revealing China to be a fascinating place, something that concurs with the experiences I have heard tell of from acquaintances who have been there.

    A common complaint amongst friends of mine who have been to China is that people tend to be astonishingly rude. The abusive and often incoherent belligerence of your detractors on this blog would tend to support this assertion.

    Please start up a new blog wherever they send you next.

    Toodle oo

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  • 119. At 1:10pm on 08 Jul 2009, lslove wrote:

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  • 120. At 1:26pm on 08 Jul 2009, palladiomc wrote:

    Dear James,

    Many thanks for sharing your stories with us in the last years. It really opened up our insights. Although some people tend to disagree and often argue against your thoughts, the process of intermingling and repercussion of ideas has created a great platform for bringing China forward on its goal to becoming the world's superpower, aka "the awakening of the sleeping giant". Once again, my sincerest gratitude for presenting to us this blog. A brilliant observer and writer as you are, you have truly served the virtues of journalism.

    Rgds,

    with all the best to your future career

    Palladio

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  • 121. At 2:21pm on 08 Jul 2009, endyjai wrote:

    Thank you for your activism in China. But as many others said, you didn't give a great all-round view. Hope you enjoyed your time there.

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  • 122. At 2:23pm on 08 Jul 2009, sunnydayhope wrote:

    Hello James,
    Great column. It sounds like you had a frustrating time in China but enjoyed the people. Perhaps you can add a posting covering your impressions on Tibet and other minority areas.

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  • 123. At 2:36pm on 08 Jul 2009, SYDNEY2009 wrote:

    Dear James,

    It is sad to see you are leaving China but as an honest reader of yours, I want to say that I am actually a bit disappointed to read your article of 'Three years in China'.

    I am a Chinese and lived in China till my early twenties and then studied abroad. Now I have been living in Australia for almost ten years. Ten years on, I LOVE English culture so much and had been a firm believer that Western countries are far better than China in terms of its political and social systems. However, I have been really impressed with what has been happening in China at the moment during my holiday trip to China in March this year. My hometown is Nanjing and so many small things happened to that city I have seen this time are still lingering in my mind. I have seen trees carefully protected with ropes and wooden frames and pavement cleverly engraved with anicent stories in ancient Chinese history. They may well be just small things in peoples' eyes but they are a true reflection of the efforts city developers are making to make our cities more beautiful and at the same time maintaining the unique oriental culture China has. Certainly there are still so MUCH to improve in China but I believe it is well on the right track to becoming a modern-yet-sophiscated-in-its-own-way China.

    Young people in China nowadays are more open to the diversity of life and they have more freedom to lead the life they would like to have. I fully understand that there are still a GREAT difficulty of changing your life and fullfilling your dream in China but I have seen more people from young generation dare to live. I know people that have had traditionally-recognised-in-China occupations but they give up to pursue their own interest to run a successful business by THEMSELVES. With more and more people coming and going out/in China for travel,study and business etc., more information are exchanged between the world outside China and China, a process of comparing different culture with different points of views is inevitable and this is not only to Chinese people and I believe westerners can benefit from this comparison as well. I am from an average family in China and to me studying or living abroad is never a privilege to abuse, instead it is a duty to fulfill, a duty of learning the essence of foreign cultures, having a self-reflection of your own and redeveloping your own into a better one. James, I can ensure you that there are thousands of young people like me in China having the exactly same belief towards China and also human culture. So, open up your mind, accept the fact that China is rising and appreciate the other culture.

    All the best for your next post.

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  • 124. At 2:50pm on 08 Jul 2009, benjaminqiu wrote:

    James,

    Thank you, and good luck on your next posting. Ignore those who are not used to honest criticism or analysis probably due to too much exposure to CCTV or Xinhua.

    Ben

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  • 125. At 3:10pm on 08 Jul 2009, beijing_2059 wrote:

    After reading the comments by dothiepin (Olivia), I sincerely appreciate the shining British wisdom shown in that post. I could not agree more. The keywords are "mutual respect" and "mutual understanding", which are, unfortunately, often absent in this world.

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  • 126. At 3:41pm on 08 Jul 2009, BeijingOwen wrote:

    James, cheers for your anti-china blogging all these years. I am also an Englishman living in Beijing, but to be honest I haven't felt any of the pessimistic and mocking attitude you have shown since you started reporting in China. Sorry if I offend, but it seems that you have nothing good to say about China or Beijing at all. I am pretty sure that every expat I know loves China, and regardless of wage/living conditions/etcetera (I personally am pretty poorly paid for an expat) we all love living here. Your views only help to taint the view of China I have to face when I go home. 'Journalists weren't allowed into Tiananmen Square on the 20th Anniversary'... No foreigner was! Hardly anyone was! Stop pretending China is a place where dissent is impossible! My neighbour is a CCP member, and I can air my views to him as easily as if I was at home. Why couldn't you admit the Olympics were good for China? Why can't you realise that a One Party System is what the Chinese are comfortable with? I think all self-righteous Westerners should realise that democracy and multiple parties only work in Christendom/Ancient Greece-style countries, you included. I personally love my right to vote, my right to determine my country's direction, but that's not how it works in China! For thousands of years, China (bound by Confucianism and Imperialism) has fostered a system where a ruling elite are in power. The current system is just a continuation of this. Albeit I personally don't agree that it's right, but I'm not Chinese.
    I really hope that the next BBC correspondent in Beijing is impartial, fair and realistic in seeing what China is really like. If more people read your views and took them seriously, then China would be a lost cause to the British public. Damn, if I could make negative comments about China every week and get paid, I'd love your job! But the fact is that China is nowhere near as bad as you have made it out to be.
    You made many relevant comments, but I feel that you made much more negative comments than positive, as do many commentaters on this thread. I wish you well on your next posting - I just hope its somewhere where you can't destroy the truth with perceived authority behind the badge of the BBC.

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  • 127. At 4:17pm on 08 Jul 2009, TomFeng wrote:

    Yes, the problems mentioned above do exist in China, however, you did not realize the progress which Chinese government has made. The only point is that they have not done to the level you approved. This will need more time to do, gradually, day by day. Even you Britain or America are also improved from ABC. Am I right? So, when you come to China for another interview or other tasks, please be more concentrated on China's progress and better points and to give Chinese people more power to going forward, but not only criticize China anywhere.
    By the way, one point I'd like to emphasize is that I'm not a CCP member. I just a Chinese ordinary people. I hope that all the western reporters could balance their views when they evaluate China and The Western.
    Thank you.
    At the end, thank you for sharing your writings with all of us.

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  • 128. At 4:33pm on 08 Jul 2009, funnyanotherblogger wrote:

    Good journalism contributes to matual understanding and world peace. Bad journalisms causes conflicts and wars.

    James, ask your self, have you served as a bridge between the two different culture, two different systems and two different people to know each other and learn from eachother or you just paint the other side completely black?

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  • 129. At 5:22pm on 08 Jul 2009, t_RAV wrote:

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  • 130. At 6:05pm on 08 Jul 2009, state_clark wrote:

    Three years seems to be such a small and insignificant number. However, if a baby was born on the day when you arrived in China three years ago, she / he is right now talking and running around for you to catch. That is profoundly significant. The changes took place in China within the last three years has been nothing short of profound and historical significance in the entire world history.

    It's up to an individual or an organization to acknowledge or to disregard the significance of the three years for a baby or for China, then analyze it with, hopefully, an educated mind.

    It's been "interesting" reading your blog, James.

    I am looking forward to the next BBC replacement of you in China who will start judging China in all aspects and make the expected BBC formatted uniformed China criticism before she / he even knows how to greet different people in China.

    Will you be missed for your work in China for BBC? Well...depends

    Goodbye, James!

    Life is good and best of luck, James!

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  • 131. At 6:14pm on 08 Jul 2009, Shanshan wrote:

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  • 132. At 7:59pm on 08 Jul 2009, tclim38 wrote:

    The 'free' of the so-called 'free press' also means you can pick and choose what you want, ignore what you don't want, to report, and how you want to report them, based on my 3 decades observation living in the west.

    Talking about 'living in the west', one comment above seems to say if you choose to live in the west, you cannot disagree with James Reynolds. That's silly at best. I don't know how to describe it precisely without this comment being removed by the 'moderator'.

    I would say you might not did it consciously due to your lack of Chinese language capability, and knowledge of the history and culture. But , if 'bashing the Chinese government' is your purpose or one of your purposes, you certainly have done a good job.

    China is not a 'power', let alone a 'super power'. Not even close to Japan.
    It is a 'developing' country (It used to be more powerful and advanced than others, by the way). Expecting China to be the same as other developed countries today is obviously not realistic. I don't disagree at all it needs to improve in many, many areas, especially 'rule of law'. Nevertheless, you know what 'developing' means. It's in the process, and you don't get there overnight. And, Chinese people know all the shortcoming of their country, they are smarter than you think they are. The world is changing. China is changing fast. I hope you have learned something in the three years in China. Sorry, if you have not.

    Good luck in your next assignment.

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  • 133. At 8:08pm on 08 Jul 2009, lapoleon wrote:

    Dear James,

    It was always a pleasure to read your blog posts or watch your reports from BBC America. There are certainly many mis-understanding and dis-trust between China and the West, and I think you have done a great job to present the life in China to the West. I'm not sure what's your next job at BBC, but I think it would be great if you or someone else can also provide the Chinese people with a more "real" West, about its history, politics, and people. I really appreciate your work at China, and wish you all the best in your future career.

    Lin

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  • 134. At 8:49pm on 08 Jul 2009, xiaomeibr wrote:

    I have not left any comment before but feel compelled to do so now. I'm an expat Chinese, having now lived in the states for more than 20 years. What got me reading your blog is that I found me agreeing with you a lot. I've often thought that the fact so many Chinese nationals can't take any criticism, like some of your critical reporting about China, shows a collective lack of self-esteem. Why can't the Chinese face the dark side of China? We know it's there. Why do we have to have the west's approval? Can't we just admit it, and move on?
    I'll miss your blog. I hope whoever taking your spot in China starts a new one. Good luck to you, James.

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  • 135. At 10:05pm on 08 Jul 2009, sheriffCartman wrote:

    vinelife. what makes your truth truer than mine? I don't doubt there are issues in China. But there are also issues in the UK, US and all over the world. Yet what's blogged here is a sneering superior view from someone who expects nothing less than a Utopian society. At no point did I believe I could take these reports without feeling the need to balance them out with the overall picture. Your "Truth" as you put is only a small part of the picture, one which you seem to be missing.

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  • 136. At 10:36pm on 08 Jul 2009, longriver2009 wrote:

    After reading your bolg for quite awhile I had changed my mind. Instead of learning China from it, I began to learn the West from it along with the other BBC reports on China. Since China has delveloped itself with a unique history in a unique culture background, there are bound to be some different opinions and concepts in its system from that of the West. I was wondering how the west would cope with such a different opinion and idea to coexist with themselves. What I found is the main stream of the west doesn't have the courage and the capacity to envisage the emergence of China. Some are desperate to paint china with colours to ravage what china has succeeded and magnify what it has failed. James perhaps has done quite a good job in digging a hole to let them swarmp into it. How can we help? We can't! I hope BBC don't send James to Somalia next, those people are the ones truely need help not someone with a possible bad childhood can descend mockery on them.

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  • 137. At 11:08pm on 08 Jul 2009, xueyanedward wrote:

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  • 138. At 11:21pm on 08 Jul 2009, jxg1984 wrote:

    Long time reader, first time (and last time) poster.

    Thank you James for your work over the last two years. I know sometimes you take a lot of flak over your coverage, but I have enjoyed your posts, and wish you all the best for your next post, wherever that may be...

    I hope your successor (if there is one - couldn't find anything on the bbc site about a replacement for you) can fill your shoes!

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  • 139. At 01:04am on 09 Jul 2009, gduwright wrote:

    To my Chinese brothers. Now that you're becoming a super power (it's a short list right now) everything China does will be scrutinized. You will be judged not only on what other nations think is right but what each individual person thinks is right. You cannot escape. The US has been in this positions since WWII. It's like ok thanks for the support in the war but now go back home an keep quite. The rise of global TV and Internet guarantee you're going to get it from all directions. When you were only a big country with lots of people no one cared. But now things have changed. A lot of the world's people are affected by what China says or does. It comes with the title so you've just got to deal with it. Believe me when I say that the free press tends to look for what's bad not what's good (Pres. Obama is the exception). It's a shame but that's the way it is. By the way we have a BBC journalist in U.S. I cannot say that he is fair and balanced but after all he is just a journalist.

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  • 140. At 01:17am on 09 Jul 2009, geniusMargot wrote:

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  • 141. At 01:56am on 09 Jul 2009, nanjingdave wrote:

    Hi James,

    I have not been reading your blog for very long and am upset that it is coming to an end (for me) so soon. I found a lot of it very interesting, and enjoyed the comments section, and the views from both Chinese and western eyes.

    I enjoyed your last post, because again i have not been reading for a long time and have been going through old posts these past few days.

    I still get frustrated at certain posters who i will not name, but that's part of the reason the blog is so interesting, because of the strong and opinionated followers. I have lived in China for the last 12 months: sometimes i have loved being here, sometimes i have hated being here! But either way there is no denying that its one of the most interesting and relevant places in the world.

    Have fun in your next destination!

    NJD

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  • 142. At 02:13am on 09 Jul 2009, Shanghai2010 wrote:

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  • 143. At 04:03am on 09 Jul 2009, bluejeansbj wrote:

    My fragments of reading and commenting on this blog in the past couple of years:

    1. the blog that I loved most is the one about the Sichuan earthquake, where James interviewed a local official who lost his family but was still doing his duty and helping the others; the other blogs that have impressed me include the one listing out 10 Chinese that you have to know, and the one describing James' weekend trip on a train
    2. Several of my mild, kind and polite comments were removed by the moderator, and this really makes me understand the so-called "freedom of speech" that the western countries are always preaching
    3. despite all his negative reporting about China, I'm very willing to believe that James is a good person, with a kind and decent heart. This can be shown by the blog that I love most - his sympathy and respect to the people in Sichuan has won my respect to him as well. But sometimes I can't help wondering whether James is criticising China because he wants to help China to improve, or if he is criticising because he wants China to fail. Because of this, I'm not sure if James and I can be friends.
    4. nevertheless, I wish James all the best with his next posting.

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  • 144. At 06:04am on 09 Jul 2009, GoonerCow wrote:

    James:

    Do you actually ever smile? I think I've never ever seen you put a laugh on your face. Same from your reports, over 85% of your reporting are on the negative side about China. Well.. I've always thought that as a reporter you have to report everything more balanced.

    Perhaps one day you will realize that, although China is not perfect, neither is the rest of the world, including most of the democratic countries. In same ways, life in China is even safer and better than living in the west. And these are the facts.

    But still I have to say a big thank you for all your hardwork and reports. (See, this is what I called balance reporting, I critisize you but on the other hand I also see the good things about you, and that's why as a Hong Kong Chinese I feel I'm very lucky because the News Media here is absolutely on a more professional un-biased level compared to your reports)

    I have to also thank you because apart from your reports, you gave us a place for the pro-Chinese people to write down their opinions which could be viewed by the western audience.

    Believe me man, try to smile a bit, you would feel the world becomes more positive and you yourself would become also a bit happier.

    All the best.

    Cheung
    A dutch born Chinese living in Hong Kong.

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  • 145. At 11:38am on 09 Jul 2009, fengwang wrote:

    Dear James,

    I have been reading your blog over the last 2 years also, thank you for your report there, well done. I agree in most areas you mentioned about in your blogs, China is often behind or far behind UK in those areas, luckily, China is learning, but at a slow speed in my opinion.

    Wish can read a future book of you about your opinion in How to change China for better?

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  • 146. At 12:38pm on 09 Jul 2009, fengwang wrote:

    I have just read some other reader's comment about James' report in China, there are lots of blog commentor criticise James' Bias or concertrating on negative things happening in China.

    I agree above, James did spend most his blogs in negative things. but I do not criticise James for this, Because most of those are ture.

    as a chinese, we often hear too much about our economic prograss, hear too little about our problems, take a example of petitioners, dissidents, our China have too many problems need attention, far from perfect of justice system, enviomental problem, gap between poor and rich, lack of openness and transparenty of many areas in society, mostly government.

    therefore, I welcome reporter like James write in detail in his blogs or speak in live reports in BBC news about China's problems, then public who interested can discuss how to change for better.

    But I strongely disagree in BBC's coverage in some of its news coverage in May 2008, reporter talking about there is riot in China's Tibert, talking about Chinese police clash or beat demostrators, on the picture, it shows Nepal police at Nepal or Indian police at New Dehli to use their baton to beat demonstrate there. this is serious misleading BBC's viewers, a ordinary UK public would not easily recognize it is Chinese police or Nepal police. I disagree about Chinese govenment did not allow reporter to go Tibert at the time, I am glad chinese has learnt and allowing reporter to go to Xing Jiang this time, let the truth speaks itself, face the problems and slove them instead of hide them it is a step towards right direction.

    Lu Xun, our famous writer in 1920s and 1930s often critise our Country at the time, but most of us today would agree Lu Xun is a patriot. James critise us, I call on every patriot do their best in their posts to change our country for better, one day, UK maybe learn a lot of better things from China,(ps, not beijing 2008 olympics, I wish Chinese made a lot profit from this game, but I don't know. I would rather government spend money on local community infrastructure, education and hospital than spending lots of money in those huge stadiums)that will be the day when James writing a lot of positive things about China if he is depoled to China again, I think this is a very long jouney, but I looking forward to it.

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  • 147. At 1:14pm on 09 Jul 2009, chinabuzz wrote:

    Nihao (Hello) James

    I am great fun of your blog but somehow missed it for few days. So when visit today, was actually expecting another great report from you about the recent happenings in Xinjiang. Somehow i found seemingly your last note from China, a wonderful recap of your three years experience in China.

    It is true that every country has its own problems as few commentators tried make this point clear, especially to the westerners so as to brush off the China's critique. However, hiding truth from the people under state sponsorship, organization, and conspiracy is utterly wrong and it is shame CCP is doing brazenly; putting whole country in a very bad light.

    Culturally, China is the most senior nation and logically should be the moral champion of world and setting example for the rest. Somehow, it treatment of its people, students (as in the case of Tiananmen Square Students democratic movement), its minorities or family members like Xinjiang and Tibet, dissidents, petitioners, put the rest to shame despite great civilization.

    Fortunately, we have journalists like you who can bring us closest to the truth possible by your unbiased stance and dedication and in spite of the fact that you too are not so free to move around. Through your reports, we hear and see and experience the real China. Your funs love the great reporting work you did so far on China and surely we all going to miss you.

    Best wish with your next assignment.

    Xiexie (Thank you)

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  • 148. At 3:28pm on 09 Jul 2009, finne99 wrote:

    Thanks for your work, James. I agree with you in most cases you said in your blog, except the policy of birth control. There are too many people on this planet already, particularly too many Chinese. the policy is against some main principles of human rights, I agree, but practically it is good for all of us and for this planet---I am a Chinese. I hope the West won't criticize the birth control anymore. I don't agree with some people here who think you only focus on negative sides of China. Those individuals you mentioned in your blog seem to have no accountability for those Chinese who are leading to sort of "well to do" life. In addition, I am not sure if you have noticed in China that if an individual is in the lowest position ---such as peasants and factory workers or migrant workers----they are likely to be abused in every respect in the society, and the most cruel thing is that other people do not feel for them. Justice and equality are two things that the Chinese society needs the most, perhaps.

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  • 149. At 4:38pm on 09 Jul 2009, Mike Zhang wrote:

    I think James Reynold's comments on the negative sides of China are quite insightful. That said, his reports are just not balanced -- it's like a reporter in New York only reports the happenings in Brooklyn.

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  • 150. At 4:41pm on 09 Jul 2009, thornton_reed wrote:

    #109 beijing_2059

    'I, after reading so many biased reports from BBC, was ready to give up any hope of arguing or discussing with any westerners, since the arrogant attitude and the feeling of superiority have made them lost the sense of justice.'

    Could you clarify whether or not you mean the BBC is arrogant and has a superiority complex or just us 'westerners' in general. Hopefully its the former as you wouldn't us judging by your country's *ahem* 'journalism'.



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  • 151. At 05:56am on 10 Jul 2009, freemancong wrote:

    Dear James,
    Thank you for your working in China.
    You have brought a real China to the world, with your arduous work and unusal strength.
    Being a Chinese, I hope you may interview more plain people in China to get to know a complete world. For more western reporters, they would like to know more on China's negtive aspect.
    Chind has made great progress in past thirty years, I believe it will be better in a decade. I hope you can come back and see a new China.
    Good luck!

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  • 152. At 06:48am on 10 Jul 2009, icyjady wrote:

    I am a retired teacher in Hong Kong. All along, I have access to western news reports as well as those from the mainland Chinese. I also visit the forums in many websites. I am both amused and sad by the discrepancies in the western and the Chinese views about the social and political aspects China.. China is undergoing the most rapid social and economic changes, if not political, that has ever experienced in human history. However, the West sees China as autocratic, restrictive and out of touch with the modern world. They regard the Chinese people as being so oppressed and brain-washed that they have no ability for independent thinking nor assert their rights. The West believes that it is their responsibility to enlighten the Chinese. On the contrary, the Chinese resent this snobbish attitude. They believe that the Chinese with their long history and rich culture, should choose and walk their own path. That explains why posts written by non-Chinese generally deplore the Chinese government whereas those written by Chinese themselves defend their system and government.
    I, being a Chinese, also feels that some of the western journalist reports are biased. This may be due to self-fulfilling prophecy. I remember when I visited New Zealand and a middle-aged taxi driver told me that he dislike the Chinese government and compared it to Nazis. He advocated for Tibets independence. However, when I questioned him further, I found that he knew very little about China nor Tibet. He was brainwashed by the mass media about China. Likewise, before the western journalist came to China, they have their own bias and expectations. They then seek to report those situations and opinions that coincide with their expectations. Take the example, the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake. I could not deny that the reasons for the collapse of some schools were not properly dealt with nor the grievances of parents properly addressed but at the same time the government has done a fair, if not a good job in the rescue and re-construction of Sichuan after that devastating earthquake. However, James made no mention of that tremendous rescue effort but just pinpointed the school collapse.
    Similarly in western report about the Ximjiang riot (not by James), I found that some of reports are still biased, though not as blatantly as the report about Tibet riot last year. For example the reports alleged that the Uigurs rather than the Hans are the victims. The reports also alleged the Chinese use of force in the crackdown. Similarly there is report that the riot was caused by the policemans provoke on a peaceful demonstrations. But thanks to Peter, an English teacher who gave an eye witness account to certify that the rioters deliberately provoked the violence (see the account for the dark days in BBC news ). In such an explosive situation, I feel every government will use force to maintain law and order and avoid further bloodbath.
    To be a professional news reporter, open-mindedness and fair reporting are the most important qualities and I hope that reporters will abide by that. At the same time, I plead my compatriots to be opened minded about these reports and criticisms. If they are justified, we have to rectify our mistakes and make improvement, if not, just do as what I have done, be assertive to put forward our own views.
    P.S I hope those who take part in the forum show more respect about my people and my government and refrain from using that hostile and insulting language.

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  • 153. At 07:22am on 10 Jul 2009, fiendwithme wrote:

    Dear James,

    Take it easy.
    I suppose you are living in great tension for long long time.
    Let's take an example.
    You have to -- like an obsessive-- check every detail of your food with microscope and find out all the germs, virus, and so on.
    Then you cannot enjoy the meal.
    But the fact is all the food has been poluted more or less.
    And you justice with all your experience that this is good, that is bad, something like this.
    Anyway, you are not a God, every people has his own point of view about the exact same thing, because they are in different position.

    To be frankly, do you want to see a powerful country like China without any defect?

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  • 154. At 09:41am on 10 Jul 2009, wherewe wrote:

    Hello James,

    Time goes fast. I remember you wrote your first blog which described your train trip to China. You said "I convince myself I have made a mistake even thinking of moving to another country and I wish I could just turn back." You were starved on the way from Cologne to Moscow becuase there were no food you can bought on that train. Do you still think you made a mistake now?

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  • 155. At 09:57am on 10 Jul 2009, wherewe wrote:

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

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