Watch your rice, folks. That's our takeaway from this week's Sinica, which ruminates on troubles old and new in the Middle Kingdom. Up for discussion in particular are Chinese activities in Rwanda, dodgy rice, ongoing worker troubles at Apple subsidiaries in China, and two new search engines owned by the People's Daily and Xinhua. Our panelists also discuss the surprise appearance of American Ambassador and Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman at an ephemeral political protest in downtown Beijing.

Joining host Jeremy Goldkorn in our studios this week is Sinica regular Gady Epstein, Beijing Bureau Chief for Forbes magazine and one of the best journalists covering contemporary China. We're also privileged to have two more exceptional China watchers in our studio as well: Mary Kay Magistad of Public Radio International's The World, and China expert Kathleen McLaughlin who writes for the Global Post.

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 said on
March 2, 2011
Upon reading reports on last two weeks Jasmine protests in China, I felt somewhat uncomfortable with the reporting tactics adopted by journalists in Beijing. By camping at the planned protest site hours beforehand thus attracting hordes of onlookers and police, the journalists had allowed themselves to be a major influence on the subsequent events rather than simple observers.

We can all agree that a protest in Beijing, if it will take place at all, will be in a embryonic state. Such circumstances require a bit more discretion from the journalists than reporting on ongoing events that already has its own momentum (such as the unrest in the Middle East). I wondered what would have happened on the last two Sundays if there weren't hundreds of journalists camping at Wangfujing, but sadly that's something I'll never know.
 said on
March 3, 2011

Is that how it is really going in Wangfujing? If the rumor on the internet is for a protest at some time and place, the journalists have a duty to cover the news--or lack there of. One of the memes is the utter lack of turnout or unrest (which some interpret as a mandate of heaven), and the other story appears to be the police directed violence against foreign journalists. Internet activists disappearing is pretty normal, but I find this latest development very disturbing. Particularly because I have no faith in the western governments to do anything for their citizens.
 said on
March 3, 2011

My sources on the Wangfujing protests are same as everyone else's, i.e. reportings from the international media. The few accounts I've been reading on the first Sunday protest seem to indicate that when the police arrived en masse, the heavy presence of the journalists had already attracted a horde of onlookers. Temporal order, of course, does not imply causality. But given the development on the second Sunday, during which foreign journalists (and none of the Chinese onlookers and would-be protesters) were violently targeted, one certainly can not rule out the possibility that security plannings might be significantly altered because of the journalists, and such alterations may have an impact on the turn of events.

Journalists certainly has the duty to report, but I do wonder if there are other ways to witness the planned protest (or the lack thereof) than having a huge chunk of the foreign press corps in Beijing camping right on the designated protest site hours before anything had happened.
Mark Lesson Studied