Did you know –and you could have known, if you follow the news- that Singapore is Utopia? But let me specify. With ‘if you follow the news’, I meant Murdoch’s news. As we now know, he has his own ways of getting information, so when he says that Singapore is The Ideal State, I’m sure he knows where he is talking about. It is quite ironical, if you think about it: the boss of thousands of journalists and many broadcasting companies and other news clubs, basically the boss of everything that represents freedom of speech, the symbol of Western democratic liberty; this boss admires a state that imprisons journalists who write beyond their cup of teh tarik. Murdoch reasoning, by the way, is that Singapore’s leaders get paid so much that it lifts them above corruption. It seems then that not all news reaches him or his papers.
It just makes you wonder how free our reporters and news researchers have truly been all this time, when we entrusted this so important aspect of our society to the likes as Murdoch with his power to make and break politicians in benches or in bed, not to mention journalists. God entrusting the devil to safeguard his creation. China chuckles about this -quietly. “Is this not the free press so holy and dear to the free world?” “Is this not the media that criticizes China for curbing journalists, unjust reporting and hacking computers?”
Not that Murdock has ever worried much about this. Since this Aussie married a Chinese factory girl with a Harvard degree, the gates into the Middle Kingdom opened wide for him and his dollars. He found his way and got his way and he knows all too well that business is compromising as good as you can and thus, between the many gan-bei’s of long business lunches, his Sky channel quietly yet quickly removed BBC News from the channel list. But really, who needs the British? China’s CCTV International is now broadcasting across the globe and it is hard to find a hotel that doesn’t have CCTV’s International news. Why worry?
Let’s take an example. The troubles in Xinjiang –the killings in Kashgar and Hotan by Uyghur separatists- has been widely covered in the Chinese media this last week. Terrorists; evil forces trained and financed abroad; Muslim extremists, not unlike the 9/11 boys… according to Chinese press. And who can blame China now for having it’s own Guantanamo prison? In Western media one will pick up different sounds: suppressed people seeking liberty; a folk with deep wounds of mistreatment and deceit. Horrible! But what is the difference – to you? The commercials are the same and isn’t that all we remember before we turn of the light and worry about tomorrow morning’s meeting while we have no hard time falling asleep?
What then? Is openness the measure of trustworthiness? It is so much common knowledge that the Chinese media is largely the government’s mouth piece, that it can be considered as transparent: we know who it represents. Call it journalism with Chinese characteristics. Western media is different. It is independent and gifted with the highest moral standards and practices, and Murdock is their boss. Where does that leave us?
The first smiles here in the local tea house just around the corner came after the economic collapse of many democratic European state and the hijacking of Obama’s government by a Tea Party, juggling with a budget of about the size similar to Steve Job’s Apple Inc’s reserves – or less then that. Freely chosen leaders, all unable to act firm and fast. “So this is your beloved democracy; your holy grail that the rest of the world should follow and adopt??” That’s when the smiles appear. You will not hear loud laughs that would reflect true feelings and thoughts or judgments. Just a smile. “We’ll see; we’ll wait.” (I have to admit that this local tea house is somewhat more of a figurative representation of what I read in between the lines here, not a physical truth. Those who have time for tea tend to be more busy discussing their choice of tomorrow’s cars from today’s newspaper ads rather than yesterday’s politics. Life is hard if you have to choose between Mercedes or Lamborghini. And those who don’t have time for tea, ah well, they just don’t have time.)
But back to my point. (And don’t worry, I’m not exactly sure what my point is either, but it does look good saying that here.) You see, here, leaders have all the time in the world. No need to hurry. China plans its political direction in periods of 15 years. Give it time. “Don’t do today what can be done tomorrow!” seems a widespread Chinese characteristic. (And that’s why my office is still not clean!) Leaders in the West are constantly in a rush and fighting. They -especially US presidents, and feel free to ask them if you don’t believe me!- are fighting for time, since about half of their 4-year duty is taken up by endless shouting of empty promises and shameless threats in the hope to be granted another 4 years of ruling in what has already been characterized as corprocracy rather than democracy. And they are fighting of attacks of their opponents whose primary mission it is to undermine and corrupt in order to weaken the leader and take over by the next election. Then it is their turn… and the game is on again, but in reverse. And while the West is digging itself deeper and deeper in its own debt-and-never-really-finish-the-job-hole, China’s leaders Hu and Wen can lean back and relax. No need to hurry. No need to show real feelings or intentions. Take your time. Let’s have some more tea and a good nap, another aircraft carrier, some more tea and good naps and then the South Chinese Sea. Way to go!
As Wang Qishan, high ranking Politburo member and vice-premier of some sorts, radiated during a conference in Beijing in 2008 facing a fine selection of the world’s biggest bankers: “You have your way. We have our way. And our way is right!” He didn’t say the last part. But I’m sure he smiled.