Propaganda, Politics and Public Affairs

This is one portion of my “professional” posts, covering government affairs, public opinion, media, censorship, propaganda and related issued. This includes many of my Olympic post as well as soft-power issues.


Godzilla vs. the SARFT monster: Why hasn’t there been a Chinese giant monster film with a Chinese giant monster? In a word, politics. An all-time favorite from sister blog July, 2012.


Unsolicited advice for Xinhua’s new CNC TV news outfit: After Xinhua announces its plans to launch a new, international TV news channel, I provide some advice on how they can make it actually work. I fully expect this advice to be ignored. May, 2010.


Consultants say hardened Chinese death-nerds are coming for your daughters: Further analyzing the political and communications agenda behind the hyping of the Chinese cyberspies stories. Also, just how “hard” is the reported “hardened” Chinese operating system? Follow-up to the post below. May, 2009.

Chinese cyberspies? Sheer lies and heinous fabrications! Dissecting both the hype around accusations of Chinese cyberspying and the Chinese government’s wretched response to the accusations. This issue rumbles on. April, 2009.


5/12, 9/11 and three minutes on Monday afternoon: One week after the catastrophic Sichuan earthquake of 2008, I went down to Tian’anmen Square for the memorial ceremony. This is what I saw, and what I thought about the glib comparisons with America’s 9/11. May, 2008.


Was the China corruption website collapse story “newsiness”? If the Yilishen ant-farming scandal, below, is the perfect China story, the collapse of a corruption watchdog website under heavy traffic might be another kind of China story: The kind where mainstream media latch onto something relatively trivial and imbue it with social import. December, 2007.

Why the Yilishen ant-farming scandal was the perfect China story: If you live here a while, you get used to encountering events that could only happen in China. This story is the apotheosis of the “only in China” genre. And it’s all true. December, 2007.

Notorious MDA: The Singapore government raps: Not so much a “Best of Imagethief” post as a piece of government public-affairs work that I feel it is my solemn duty to ensure is never forgotten, so that it is never repeated. November, 2007.

The up is red: China’s astronauts form a communist party cell in space (really). I examine the bone-chilling implications with tongue-in-cheek. October, 2007.

Why patriotism won’t save the Chinese film industry: Han Sanping, Chairman of the China Film Group, calls for more patriotism in Chinese film-making. Coming as a government mandate, I think that’s a disaster. Four years later (as of this writing) I’m feeling pretty good about that call. September, 2007.

Bang! China shoots its own Olympic PR in the foot: Almost exactly one year before the opening ceremony Chinese cops detain foreign correspondents covering a Reporters Sans Frontiers demonstration in front of the BOCOG headquarters in Beijing. Honestly, it’s like they were trying to make RSF’s protest more successful. August, 2007.

I say “tomato”, you say “massacre”, let’s call the whole thing offThe labeling of the events of June, 1989, remains contentious to this day. Should it be described as a “massacre”? Is it correct to refer to “Tian’anmen” when most of the casualties weren’t in the square itself? The most commented post in the history of Imagethief. The comments are lost, but perhaps it’s just as well as it was an ugly thread. May, 2007.

Did the “Genocide Olympics” campaign influence China? In retrospect it’s easy to see that the Olympics didn’t do much to sway China in the long term. But at the time, the NGO Save Darfur’s brilliant “Genocide Olympics” campaign looked to put real pressure on China. One of my favorite pieces of analysis. May, 2007.

Asian media vows to make western media cry: The lament from Bo’ao: Why, oh why are Asian media subject to western media imperialism? My finely considered analysis: Because they suck. April, 2007.

A funny thing happened on the way to political re-education: A proposed demerit system (really) for penalizing errant journalists makes Imagethief wonder if journalists who lose too many points will be able to go to comedy re-education school. February, 2007.

I’m sorry, the government has killed your story: You can labor weeks on an interview, but if the government suddenly decides its on an untouchable topic, tough luck hombre. February, 2007.


The elephant in the newsroom: Why China’s foreign language media can’t be the solution to China’s soft-power problem. October, 2006.

Official: Lei Feng was “hip with his times”: Because a Liberty Truck in the 1960′s was just like a BMW today. Officials struggle valiantly to make propaganda icon Lei Feng relevant to modern, Chinese youth. March, 2006.

Van Nguyen died for your sins: Executions as public communication: An analysis of the use of the death penalty as a communication tool by the Singapore government and others, inspired by the execution of Australian drug smuggler Van Nguyen despite pleas from Australia. December, 2005.


The abstraction of diplomacy and the reality of rocks through windows: Analyzing political language in China in the wake of anti-Japanese demonstrations in April, 2005.


The standard issue Chairman Mao: My early observations on the remains of the Mao cult in Beijing. Vaguely cringeworthy, but with a nice turn-of-phrase here and there. August, 2004.

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