Blog Post

An Inquiry for the Grey lady

This is a follow-up study on New York Times coverages on the inflamed Sino-Japan tension around Diaoyu Islands, a.k.a Senkaku Islands,  in the last two weeks.
 
As Chinas taken the second chair in world economy last month, its emergence across the ocean has been so disturbing to regional correspondents and some faceless (linkless online) reporters of New York Times. However, the streamlined message, collaborated throughout the Sep 7th Japans detainment of a Chinese captain, is by all means a highly self-referenced projection----China is stretching out, and U.Ss long times  buddy across the water Japan should be backed.
 
The stories on Diaoyu islands sovereignty are not new. In 2008, a Japanese patrol vessel deliberately crashed into a Taiwan fishing vessel and seized their captain. It has caused a widespread rage in Taiwanese society from bottom to up until its Japanese ambassador apologized to the captain in person. The 12 news articles I collected from New York Times since Sep 8th, however, has given a rather cold hue to Chinas historical ties to these islands as if its preferences on breaking and indexing news overrule basic background check on history records.
 
Yes, its neither about precious fishes nor invaluable unexplored oil, and following PM Wens UN trip, an article titled Three Faces of the New China has successfully switched its angle to capitol hills soft foreign policy. The storyline is as simple as the one rehearsed in 2008. And China, however dynamic after its rebirth in 1949, is still the old China, a country that has been more than 2200 years old since emperor Qin claimed his lordship over the lands( some records also indicate that he has sent diplomats down the sea which was inferred as one island of the later Japan). So, what the hack is new here? Or, what the hack should be new? The answer is pretty obvious, Mr. Obamas lukewarm foreign policy toward China, i.e. his diplomat stress on Renminbi. On the margins, there are issues such as a recent reshuffle in Japanese political circle, Chinas busy ships in South China Sea, and its foggy positions toward Iran and North Korea. These unrelated enclaves have been articulated and incorporated by specialized local authors (one Beijing based linkless reporter, one Tokyo based linkless reporter, a well-known DC FP correspondent in charge of PM Wens US trip, and a freelance op-ed writer, former Beijing.HK.Tokyo correspondent), gradually constructing a fresh layer of landscape for the Western readers on what they would known about the invisible countries and their historical encounters over the sea.

I would rather believe that its because there is so small a number of personale out there, collecting the info. and producing the news, that the stories correspond to each other in an identical vein, otherwise it would be taken as an elaborated institutional product. Moreover, it's still interesting to know that the key persons are always hidden online as linkless, traceless and profileless. But their scattered footsteps have left clear traces in their writings on different plates, which are aggregated, categorized, reemphasized and further distributed to their co-workers in a multi layered time-series pattern. The prime inception was handed over by Nicholas D. Kristof in his On the Ground blog, Look out for Diaoyu Islands, one day after his colleague Mr. Johnson reported the detainment of Chinese captain in Beijing. Mr. Kristof is known for his sharp eyes and strong senses in his critics on Iraq war. His brief revisit of Sino-Japanese conflict in history has added some credits, but his subtle prediction/bet on a worse confrontation in future is rather ungrounded and unprofessional, if not playful at all as he also took into the U.S-Japan defense treaty in his argument. If the Japanese has her good faith in Universal Declaration of Human Rights Art 3 & Art 9, she would not crash her neighbor's ships, capture their citizens, and even put them in custody trial on a international recognized and disputable land. His lighthearted call on 'lets wait and see' may or may not influence the policy agenda setting in the U.S. But it prepares and evokes any bullying actions came from Beijing or Chinese protesters, however peacefully and polite they might be,  as its source is a credible informant (a scary truth covered in Chain of Command is never trust the most trustworthy source).

In other comments such as Economist and past law reviews on International Fishing and Territorial disputes, I have seen frequent mocks on the irrational anti-Japanese acts in China, twisting a quote of a passed legendary leader Deng on Diaoyu Islands Dispute, 
 
It is true that the two sides maintain different views of this question . . . . It does not matter if this question is shelved for some time, say, ten years. Our generation is not wise enough to find common language on this question. Our next generation will certainly be wiser. They will certainly find a solution acceptable to all. 
 
The sadness behind Mr.Deng's speech is a collective memory imprinted among his fellows since Sino-Japanese war since 1931. He endorses our generation and our Japanese counterparts to fix this dispute, if I may say so, not because he wants us to forget the pain and Japan's inertia to apologize but because he has his hope on us to move on a common good. The common language on this issue is apparently not the so-called Japanese law that has nothing to do with the symbolic detainment, neither the a relatively long-term shipping norms and fishing treaty with Japan among the fishermen and their associations in Taiwan and Hong Kong after WWII.
 
The history of battle is primarily the history of radically changing fields in perception. In other words, war consists not so much in scoring territorial, economic or other material victories as in appropriating the immateriality of perceptual fields. (1989:7, original emphasis)

While pursuing common language does not guarantee a conceptual and collective consent, I find the cruel art of suffering beyond the island is largely distorted in the shoes of American cosmopolitans, as the philosophy of enduring and toleration in classic Chinese literature and Japanese Ninjutsu was always summoned for purification of individual personality and social conflicts. In the end, I doubt if the journalists really care about the life and death of a random Chinese fishing captain. But all in all, dare the story not focus on him if he is American captain. 


The triangle structure in this region has triggered various conflicts in the last century. The oriental cultures at a distance become subjects that are fashionable to the western writers ever since. It is pathetic to see Benedict's chrysanthemum and sword 's doubles have been transplanted in the vanguard news agency, although their fragrance is so penetrating, their blazes are silent and bloodless.

Ignore all the metaphors and gestures. What do you think?

 

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2 comments

Are you saying that the Chinese 'victims' remain invisible until 'Western' journalists choose to highlight their stories? I am curious to know what sort of 'common' language are you envisioning. And would that be a common language between the Chinese and Japanese, or them with the rest of the world included (it seems your worlds operate on the dichotomy of Sino-Japanese and 'West,' probably what you conceive as superpowers and rising superpowers)? Are you conflating China with Taiwan, whatever their previous historical ties, or are you saying that the language has to operate in this triangle of the three? What sorts of links are you talking about? I am trying to understand how you tie 'ancient' China to 'modern' china, and the point of the nytimes article has to do with just any media coverage, or the indexing style of digital news? You have an interesting topic but probably you can explain to us (or me at least) how they all add up.

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Thanks for commenting on this 'content analysis'. As I said, this is not a new concern in the academia circle when one relates news media and foreign policy.

 

Also, 1. I did not generalize or victimize Chinese people, neither did I glorify 'western' journalists' reporting. If you have read the news and made some statistical note, you could basically come up with same sort of 'aggregation' as they were just what the reporters have framed in black letters.

 

2. Well, your have actually highlighted the most imaginative ideal here. In terms of common language, what I'm thinking is not about the dead records of sovereignty but the language people plotted in this event.

 

3. I did not promote any universal language to enforce a consent. Language is only a tool that usually fool us. Literally, I was not refashioning Chinese language. Syntax in the linguistic community is helpful. But again, I do not think statesmen should be word players, just as demagogues could also strike the world in WWII.

 

4. I brought up ancient China, simply because NYT did. Is it too metaphysical for you?

 

 

As you might know, Japan applied a series of administrative and even judicial ‘speech acts’ in the 'miranda warnings' to the Chinese fishermen and the international audience after the crash. There is no hit and run case here, because there is virtually no legitimate court in the first place. Who's violated who's rules, that's too legalistic or historical, as you suspected. But, by acclaiming Japan’s judicial rights on spot, one can simply get the message and the claim behind it. The fishermen were not sent out by some navy force or some 'real estate broker'. A peace treaty among the fishery associations was already there. It's infringement is the not-so-common I’m looking at. Yes, timeline(s) of all the parties’ heuristic interpretations should be interesting, as I have mentioned and practiced in this essay. I simply could not normatively project some sort of algo for all the human kind. That's way beyond my scope here. And no magic bullet could shake the babel tower. If you think it's common or justified for Japan's international policing, I would cross my fingers on international law's upgrade to a dual-core processor! 

 

 

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