Chinese Media’s Ostrich Policy
Image Credit: Tony Wills

Chinese Media’s Ostrich Policy

 
 

A friend of mine who recently returned from Tokyo asked me why the Chinese media has only been reporting on the conflict between the pro-Gaddafi military and the opposition, rather than analyzing the reasons why there are so many people opposed to Gaddafi’s rule.

Certainly, the Chinese media has been very interested in the conflict in Libya. But it has mostly been reporting on the actual conflict and how the West is ‘attacking’ Libya. In contrast, there has been little analysis on the political issues facing Libya, including how Gaddafi’s government is falling apart, the country’s long-term political outlook, and why many Libyans are so unhappy with their ruler.

The reason is simple: the Chinese media is adhering to its ‘ostrich policy’.

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What does this mean in practice? The media, being afraid or unwilling to confront the real problems behind the unrest, has decided to put its head in the sand by just reporting straight news. If it reports in much depth on how the Gaddafi regime has been in power for a significant amount of time, and how this has led to corruption within the family and prompted public discontent, then people might make a mental connection with the situation in China – and act accordingly, therefore risking instability. As a result, the authorities have reportedly asked China’s media to stick to reports by the official Xinhua news agency.

This doesn’t just apply to news articles on Libya – similar situations in Syria, Yemen and Egypt, have recently become ‘restricted’ zones. With so many ‘restricted zones’ now in place, the media has become quite adept at the ostrich policy, meaning that even if the authorities don’t give a clear signal on an issue, media managers will adopt self-censorship and avoid sensitive topics.

This self-censorship can sometimes cross the line into efforts to manipulate public opinion – with amusing results. A recent CCTV programme, for example, was reporting on how Libyans were opposed to French air strikes. Unfortunately for them, they inadvertently showed footage of people holding pro-Paris banners. Another CCTV programme featured an interview with an ‘average’ Chinese national residing in Tripoli. However, netizens reportedly discovered that the person interviewed was actually a Foreign Ministry employee.

The examples I’ve just given are typical of Chinese media coverage of current affairs. Although reporters know that the ostrich policy is aimed at appeasing the authorities, they still don’t like it. Yet even knowing the media is dissatisfied, a nervous government has no desire to allow unfettered media coverage.

In a way, you can understand why. History has shown many times that in an authoritarian country, once a previously tightly-controlled media is released and given free rein, instability and change can follow. As a result, the Chinese government sees the media as a front in the battle over public opinion.

I understand the Chinese government’s belief in the importance of stability for economic development, and why it would therefore believe that it needs to control the media. But frankly, when newspapers all start publishing the same news sourced from Xinhua, the trade-off for stability has become an insult.

This is a sensitive issue here in China, so I hope you’ll understand that on this entry at least I’d rather not get drawn into a debate in the comments section.

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function avg_ls_valid_facebook_search(url)
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function avg_ls_get_facebook_links(doc, processFrames)
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var links = new Array();
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// initial checks
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if (avg_ls_does_url_contain(element.href, gAvgHostName))
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// don’t put verdicts in areas where typing is going on
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var parentDiv = avg_ls_get_parent_div(element);
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avg_ls_check_url(doc, element, element.href);

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{
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}

avg_ls_get_facebook_links(doc.frames[j].document, processFrames);
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return links;
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function avg_ls_has_image(element)
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function avg_ls_update_image(doc, element, image )
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function avg_ls_add_image(doc, element, image, flyover)
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function avg_ls_monitor_gmail(doc, processFrames)
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avg_ls_get_gmail_links(doc, processFrames);

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function avg_ls_monitor_facebook(doc, processFrames)
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// get the links
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function avg_ls_process_links(doc, processFrames)
{
if (avg_ls_valid_gmail_search(doc.location.href))
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// process the gmail links
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avg_ls_init_ratings(doc);

showCleanVerdicts = false;
avg_ls_monitor_gmail(doc, processFrames);
}
if (avg_ls_valid_facebook_search(doc.location.href))
{
// process the facebook links
stopGmail = false;

avg_ls_init_ratings(doc);

showCleanVerdicts = false;
avg_ls_monitor_facebook(doc, processFrames);
}
}

function avg_ls_reload(e)
{
avg_ls_process_links(document, true);
}

function avg_ls_onload(e)
{
if (timeoutId)
{
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}

var doc = document;

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{
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avg_ls_add_event(data_element, “rowexit”, avg_ls_reload);

// process links for the document
avg_ls_process_links(doc, true);
}
}

function avg_ls_get_anchors(doc)
{
return doc.getElementsByTagName(“a”);
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function avg_ls_call_func(doc, name, param1, param2, param3, param4, param5)
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return;
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}
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{
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{
return;
}

// set the attributes
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if (param1)
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if (param3)
avg_ls_data.setAttribute(“param3”, param3);
if (param4)
avg_ls_data.setAttribute(“param4”, param4);
if (param5)
avg_ls_data.setAttribute(“param5”, param5);

avg_ls_data.fireEvent(“onrowenter”);

// get the result
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}

function avg_ls_get_image(result)
{
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return null;

var strResult = new String(result);
var parts = strResult.split(“::”);

if (parts.length < 3)
return;

var nSeverity = parseInt(parts[0]);
var image = null;
switch(nSeverity)
{
case 0:
if (showCleanVerdicts)
image = images[nSeverity];
break;
case 1:
if (showLowRiskVerdicts)
image = images[nSeverity];
break;
case 2:
if (showMedRiskVerdicts)
image = images[nSeverity];
break;
case 3:
image = images[nSeverity];
break;
default:
image = “linkscanner://unknown12.gif”;
break;
}

return image;
}

// do the url check
function avg_ls_check_url(doc, element, href)
{
if (avg_ls_has_image(element))
return;

var result = avg_ls_call_func(doc, “MalsiteCheck”, href);
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return;

var parts = result.split(“::”);
if (parts.length < 3)
return;

var nSeverity = parts[0];
var riskCategory = parts[1];
var riskName = parts[2];

if ( nSeverity == 0 )
{ // safe shortened urls will get checked at mouse over time
if (avg_ls_filter_url(href, shortened_urls))
{
// add onmouseover for anchors with shortened url
avg_ls_add_event(element, “mouseover”, avg_ls_mouse_over);
return;
}
}

// mark as processed
element.setAttribute(“avglschecked”, “1”);

// get the image from the result
var image = avg_ls_get_image(result);
if (image == null)
return;

var bgColor = background_colors[nSeverity];
var borderColor = border_colors[nSeverity];

// build the inline html
var html = “”;
html += ”
<div style=background-color:" + bgColor;
html += “border-color:” + borderColor + “;”;
html += “border-style:solid;”;
html += “border-width:3px;”;
html += “padding:3px;”;
html += “padding-left:8px;”;
html += “padding-right:8px;”;
html += “-moz-border-radius:5px;>”;
html += “
“;
html += riskCategory + “
“;
html += riskName + “

“;

avg_ls_add_image(doc, element, image, html);

}

function avg_ls_add_event(obj, name, func)
{
if (obj.addEventListener)
{
obj.addEventListener(name, func, false);
return true;
}
else if (obj.attachEvent)
{
return obj.attachEvent(“on”+name, func);
}
else
{
return false;
}
}

function avg_ls_remove_event(obj, name, func)
{
if (obj.removeEventListener)
{
obj.removeEventListener(name, func, false);
return true;
}
else if (obj.detachEvent)
{
return obj.detachEvent(“on”+name, func);
}
else
{
return false;
}
}

function avg_ls_mouse_over(e)
{
if (e && e.srcElement && e.srcElement.href)
{
var element = e.srcElement;

if (element.tagName == “A”)
{
// check if it has an image already
if (avg_ls_has_image(element))
{
return;
}

// add the image, returns the anchor not the image
avg_ls_add_image(document, element, “linkscanner://clock12.png”);

// do the check and update in the background
setTimeout(function() {avg_ls_check_and_update(document, element);}, 1);
}
}
}

function avg_ls_get_inline_image(element)
{
var nextElem = null;
if ((element == null) || (element.firstChild == null))
return nextElem;

nextElem = element.firstChild;
while (nextElem)
{
if (nextElem.id && (nextElem.id.indexOf(“avg_ls_image”) != -1))
return nextElem;

nextElem = nextElem.nextSibling;
}

return null;
}

function avg_ls_inline_hide_verdict(anchor)
{
var image = avg_ls_get_inline_image(anchor);
if ( image )
{
image.style.visibility = “hidden”;
}
}

function avg_ls_check_and_update(doc, element)
{
var result = avg_ls_call_func(doc, “GetFinalUrl”, element.href);
if (result)
{
var result2 = avg_ls_call_func(doc, “MalsiteCheck”, result);
if (result2 == null)
return;

// remove the mouseover for this element, no need to fire again
avg_ls_remove_event(element, “mouseover”, avg_ls_mouse_over);

// get the image from the result
var image = avg_ls_get_image(result2);
if (image == null)
avg_ls_inline_hide_verdict(element);
else
{
var img_elem = avg_ls_get_inline_image(element);
if (img_elem)
{
img_elem.src = image;
}
}
}
}

// function to find a url in a filter list
function avg_ls_filter_url(url, filter)
{
var strUrl = new String(url);
var parts = strUrl.split(“/”);

if ((parts == null) || (parts.length < 3))
return false;

var domain = parts[2];

for (var i = 0; i < filter.length; i++)
{
if (domain.indexOf(filter[i]) != -1)
{
return true;
}
}
return false;
}

function avg_ls_init_ratings(doc)
{
// get configuration for verdict displays
var result = avg_ls_call_func(doc, “GetRatingsConfig”);

var strResult = new String(result);
var parts = strResult.split(“::”);

if (parts != null && parts.length >= 4)
{
showCleanVerdicts = (parseInt(parts[0]) == 1) ? true : false;
showLowRiskVerdicts = (parseInt(parts[1]) == 1) ? true : false;
showMedRiskVerdicts = (parseInt(parts[2]) == 1) ? true : false;
}
// setup for displaying the inline popup
if ( !doc.getElementById(“avg_ls_inline_popup”) )
{
var box = doc.createElement(“DIV”);
doc.body.appendChild(box);

box.id = “avg_ls_inline_popup”;
box.style.position = “absolute”;
box.style.zIndex = “9999”;
box.style.padding = “0px 0px”;
box.style.marginLeft = “0px”;
box.style.marginTop = “0px”;
box.style.overflow = “hidden”;
box.style.wordWrap = “break-word”;
box.style.color = “black”;
box.style.fontSize = “10px”;
box.style.textAlign = “left”;
box.style.lineHeight = “130%”;
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}

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————————————————————————–
avg linkscanner inline verdict info popup
————————————————————————–
*/

// write verdict info and display the inline popup
function avg_ls_showinline(imageElem, msg)
{
//set verdict info
var flyover = document.getElementById(‘avg_ls_inline_popup’);
if (flyover == null)
return;

flyover.innerHTML = msg;
flyover.style.width = “auto”; //reset width
flyover.style.position = “absolute”;

avg_ls_positioninline(imageElem);
}

function avg_ls_positioninline(imageElem)
{
var flyover = document.getElementById(‘avg_ls_inline_popup’);
if (flyover == null)
return;

// relative position of flyover in relation to icon
var locateX = 0; // 0=left, 1=right
var locateY = 0; // 0=above, 1=below, 2=beside icon

var scrollXWidth = 19; // approx

// Must know if there is a horizontal scroll bar for Firefox
// for proper flyover positioning near bottom edge
var scrollBarX = false; //default for Microsoft IE
var scrollYWidth = 18; //normally 17 (+1 top border)
if (window.innerHeight)
{ // not MSIE
try
{
scrollYWidth = Math.floor(Math.abs(window.innerHeight – document.documentElement.clientHeight)) + 1;
scrollBarX = (document.documentElement.clientWidth < document.documentElement.scrollWidth);
}
catch(err){}
}

// get window sizes
if (window.innerHeight == undefined) // Microsoft IE
{
var windowX = (document.documentElement.clientWidth || document.body.clientWidth) – scrollXWidth;
var windowY = document.documentElement.clientHeight || document.body.clientHeight;
}
else
{
var windowX = window.innerWidth – scrollXWidth;
var windowY = window.innerHeight;
if (scrollBarX)
windowY -= scrollYWidth;
}

// get the flyover dimensions
if (window.getComputedStyle == undefined) // Microsoft IE
{
var flyoverX = parseInt(flyover.offsetWidth);
var flyoverY = parseInt(flyover.offsetHeight);
}
else
{
var style = document.defaultView.getComputedStyle(flyover, null);
var flyoverX = parseInt(style.width);
var flyoverY = parseInt(style.height);
}

flyover.style.width = flyoverX + “px”;

// get the bounding rect for image(s)
var imgRect = imageElem.getBoundingClientRect();

// half width/height (center) of element bounding rect
var halfX = (imgRect.right – imgRect.left) / 2;
var halfY = (imgRect.bottom- imgRect.top) / 2;

// element the mouse is over, get the center position
var posX = offsetLeft(imageElem) + halfX;
var posY = offsetTop(imageElem) + halfY;

var pageOffsetX = 0;
var pageOffsetY = 0;

// normalize pos to 0 — get amount of scrolling in browser window
var hasParentFrame = false;
if (window.pageXOffset == undefined) // Microsoft IE
{
pageOffsetX = document.documentElement.scrollLeft || document.body.scrollLeft;
pageOffsetY = document.documentElement.scrollTop || document.body.scrollLeft;
var frames = document.frames;
if (frames)
{
for (var i=0; i < frames.length; i++)
{
if (frames[i].document.getElementById(imageElem.id))
{
pageOffsetX = frames[i].document.documentElement.scrollLeft;
pageOffsetY = frames[i].document.documentElement.scrollTop;
hasParentFrame = true;
break;
}
}
}
}
else
{
pageOffsetX = window.pageXOffset;
pageOffsetY = window.pageYOffset;
}

posX -= pageOffsetX;
posY -= pageOffsetY;

//compensate for Firefox 3
if (posX < imgRect.left)
posX = imgRect.left+halfX;

// setup the offsets
var offsetX = posX;
var offsetY = posY;

// calc where to display on page
if ((windowX – posX) > posX)
{
// right
offsetX += halfX;
locateX = 1;
}
else
{
//left
offsetX -= (flyoverX + halfX);
}
if ((windowY – posY) > posY)
{
// below
if (posY < (windowY/4))
{
offsetY -= halfY;
locateY = 1;
}
else
{
offsetY -= (flyoverY / 2) – halfY;
locateY = 2;
}
}
else
{
// above
if ((windowY – posY) < (windowY/4))
{
offsetY -= (flyoverY – halfY);
}
else
{
offsetY -= (flyoverY / 2) + halfY;
locateY = 2;
}
}
// make sure we aren’t off the screen
if (offsetY < 0)
offsetY = 0;

if ((offsetY + flyoverY) > windowY)
offsetY = windowY – flyoverY;

// add page offsets back – if not in frame
if (!hasParentFrame)
{
offsetX += pageOffsetX;
offsetY += pageOffsetY;
}
posX += pageOffsetX;
posY += pageOffsetY;

var paddedOffsetX = 0; //provide space between icon and flyover
var padX = 3;
if (locateX == 0)
paddedOffsetX = offsetX – padX;
else
paddedOffsetX = offsetX + padX;

// set where to put the flyover
flyover.style.top = offsetY + “px”;
flyover.style.left = paddedOffsetX + “px”;

avg_ls_displayinline();
}

function avg_ls_displayinline()
{
var flyover = document.getElementById(‘avg_ls_inline_popup’);
if (flyover == null)
return;

// show the flyover
flyover.style.visibility = “visible”;

}

function avg_ls_hideinline()
{
var flyover = document.getElementById(‘avg_ls_inline_popup’);
if (flyover == null)
return;

flyover.visibility = “hidden”; //invisible
flyover.style.left = “-5000px”;
}

function offsetTop(element)
{
var offset = 0;
while (element)
{
offset += element.offsetTop;
element = element.offsetParent;
}

return offset;
}

function offsetLeft(element)
{
var offset = 0;
while (element)
{
offset += element.offsetLeft;
element = element.offsetParent;
}

return offset;
}

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