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    Posted December 17, 2012 by
    Y0J03
    Location
    New Jersey
    Assignment
    Assignment
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Life in China

    Selective Censorship in China

     
    I recently attended a trade show in Shanghai. I walked the aisles of the show with my interpreter, taking in booth after booth of industrial products manufactured by Chinese companies for the burgeoning automotive industry. These were the usual presentations of products under glass or on white pedestals with spotlights to make them look somehow glamorous, despite the fact that they were simply iron and steel components for automobiles and most likely drenched in grease and oil when in actual operation.

    As I passed one booth, I couldn’t help but do a cartoon “double take.” There in the center of the booth sat a model, naked from the waist up, being body painted by a man and a woman applying various color paints to chest, breast and nipples (see photo). A crowd of onlookers pressed against the roped barriers trying to get as close a look as possible, cell phones in hand snapping pictures like paparazzi stalking a queen or prime minister. For a country that has uniformed security guards stationed at every aisle of the show and an entire contingent outside pointing you to the parking lot lest you should dare make a single wrong turn, I couldn’t believe this would be allowed.

    Fast forward to the morning of the next day. I am watching CNN Asia and hear a headline which said in effect: “Will the new president of China free dissident Liu Xiaobo?” The station then went to a commercial. I am familiar with Mr. Liu. He won a Nobel Prize for peace in 2010 but couldn’t accept it, since he was jailed in 2008 for advocating human rights in China. I anxiously waited for the commercial to end so that I could hear more about Mr. Liu’s fate.

    But after the commercial the screen went blank. No sound, no image. I flipped through the other channels but they seemed to be working fine. It was only when the signal returned at the beginning of the next story that I realized CNN had been censored. As an American used to the rants and slants of cable and network news channels, I was appalled. Sure, you can disagree and call these media unfair, biased or just plain inaccurate. But suppressing them, preventing the message from reaching an intended audience so they could be the ones to judge the appropriateness of Mr. Liu’s actions, not some state appointed censor with his finger on a button, seemed plain wrong to me.

    Perhaps the naked woman was permitted in the company’s booth because she was considered an artistic expression. In my view CNN’s story on Mr. Liu was also an expression worthy of the same consideration to be seen, heard and discussed.

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