Op-Ed Contributors

View China objectively

By Wu Hongbo (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-07-06 07:59
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German media should drop prejudiced stance and reflect progress shown by the developing nation

A recent report published by Germany's Heinrich Boll Foundation shows that more than half of the 8,700 articles on China in the European country's media showed a prejudiced or derogative perspective about the Asian nation.

My personal work experiences in Germany tell me that the foundation's report is credible.

Like their Western counterparts, some German media and journalists with prejudiced viewpoints about China have long held a particular interest in covering the country's ethnicity, freedom, human rights and other sensitive issues, while stinting space on coverage about the enormous progresses Beijing has achieved in improving people's livelihood and on science and technology, education and culture.

In the latest such incident, a German newspaper lashed out at China for its "espionage" in Germany on its front page. Such a groundless report is certain to adversely affect bilateral ties between the two countries.

A country's media undertake some definite responsibilities for its society and play an important role in facilitating the development of its ties with foreign countries. Objective, authentic and unbiased reports will help the public get a correct picture about a foreign country and its opposite will lead the public in the reverse direction.

According to a recent survey, 80 percent of Chinese hold a positive opinion about Germany, in sharp contrast to 70 percent of Germans who hold negative opinions about China. Such an outcome is largely the result of completely different perspectives adopted by the two countries' media in their coverage about the other.

The German media's prejudiced reports about China will not only negatively impact mutual understanding between the two peoples, but will also dent their own credibility as objective and impartial outlets of news dissemination.

China has a total area that is double that of the 27-member European Union (EU) and a population more than two and a half times the bloc's total. As a developing country, China bears multiple economic, technological and social characteristics, with advances in airspace and high-speed rail technology coexisting with underdeveloped animal-driven trucks. The economic and social progress achieved since the reform and opening up have not changed the fact that its economic development is still on an uneven keel.

China's gross domestic product (GDP) was only $18 billion in 1949, but it touched $4.9 trillion in 2009, ranking it the world's third largest economy. China's admirable economic aggregate, however, has not changed its low per capita index. Compared with the $44,000 in Germany, China's per capita GDP was only $3,000, ranking it 104th in the world.

The country is still a rural-dominant society, with 800 million of its 1.3 billion people living in rural areas and its urbanization level only standing at 46 percent, lower than the 50 percent world average. On its way to industrialization, modernization and urbanization, China still faces the arduous task of transforming its economic development model and narrowing the ever-widening gap between the rich and the poor.

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