Home Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read | Comment
Chinese news anchor's open letter to Cafferty of CNN
Adjust font size:

Xu Haoran has in the past been rated the best TV Anchor in China. He has worked as an Anchorman and Senior Editor with several Satellite TV Stations. He currently does post-doctoral work with the Economics Department of Peking University, and holds a Doctorate in Management.

Mr Cafferty:

I will address you as "Mr." at this sensitive time as you are a journalist in your own right. As a Chinese and as your fellow man, I am writing to you to voice my indignation at your offensive remarks.

I do not have your level of journalistic experience, but I am proud to be part of a profession that allows me to witness and to be part of current events that will in their course become tomorrow's history. Since the day I made the choice to major in journalism at the Communications University of China, more than twenty years ago, I have developed a growing understanding of what objectivity and justice mean to a journalist. These are more than ethical principles; they ought to be a foundation stone of conduct, especially for a TV anchor and commentator.

Over the sixteen years following my graduation I worked with television stations representing three of China's Provinces. Two of the programs over which I took charge received national awards.

It saddens me that the media of the USA - a nation which champions free speech – should champion your abuse of that right in order to spit out your vicious remarks. As China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao has already pointed out, journalists are not the possessors of an unlimited license to abuse and smear others, whether individuals or governments. CNN's recent conduct is an absolute violation of those very news principles and ethics to which the Western news media so often lays claim. I believe that every Chinese wished only of CNN and of you as an individual that you retract your vicious remarks and offer a sincere apology to the people of China.

Mr. Cafferty, it seems that you stand by your unwarranted views in the face of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's statement, as it is apparent that you have as yet offered no apology. Nor has your employer; instead it has defended you and your words and turned its attack on the Chinese government.

We Chinese have a saying: the wrong of an error lies not in its making but in its repetition. You and your employer have made a serious and an unforgivable blunder. I struggle, on reviewing your remarks, to understand two things: one, how you managed to reach your current position as a CNN commentator, and two, what is the basis of your conclusion that we, the Chinese are "basically the same bunch of goons and thugs (we've) been for the last 50 years".

Did you even stop to consider the offence that your remarks would cause to our country or its people? I challenge your suggestion that the fastest national economic growth in the world has been achieved by "a bunch of goons and thugs", and I challenge your suggestion that an event of the importance of the 2008 Olympic Games has been passed into the care of "a bunch of goons and thugs".

Have you any understanding of the great changes that have taken place in the last 50 years in China? If the answer is no, then I repeat my question: on what basis do you arrive at your views on China and its people? You might reflect on another Chinese expression: "A blind man is ill-equipped to describe what he cannot see".

Mr. Cafferty, you also stated: "We're in hock to the Chinese up to our eyeballs because of the war in Iraq". We Chinese understand that this means you've been sold to China. Why, then, treat your 'buyer' with such disdain? You ought to be grateful to him, otherwise why hock yourself to him?

Your defenders tell us that you also criticize the American Government. So it's normal practice for you to indulge in your political bias then? Have you ever described the American people as a "bunch of goons and thugs"? What kind of a reaction might that provoke among your countrymen?

China is a complex country with a huge population, undergoing rapid development. Of course we are encountering problems, and will continue to do so in the future. We have traveled far, and we have traveled quickly, and we have no need of lectures from people like you on issues of sustainable development, nor on problems like human rights, environmental pollution, and food safety.

Our country is trying its best to resolve those problems, and the people of China know it. We are conscious of the principle that 'modesty is an aid to progress', and we welcome constructive criticism and worthwhile proposals. But our tolerance does not extend to the acceptance of gratuitous insults. In our mind this is not an issue of our tolerance and our generosity of spirit. It is a question of insult to the dignity of our country.

Mr. Cafferty, I do not know if you have ever been to my country, nor how many visits you might have made, nor for how long you may have availed yourself of our hospitality. If you will pardon my presumption, it seems to me that we Chinese know a good deal more about the United States and other nations of the world than you know about us in China – and I think that our impressions of your country are rather better founded than what you 'know' about us.

In my own case, I was invited in 1998 by your US Information Agency (USIA) to conduct research in the United States, and I visited and studied American media organizations. I have to ask myself where your personal prejudice against China comes from. Does it come from information picked up from the western media? Is it hearsay?

I am not familiar enough with you to know if you are some kind of 'shock jock'. I can only assume from the clips I have seen of your program, and of the smug look on your face while you uttered your insults, that you are a manipulator of opinion.

I have no doubt that in your hard-core audience there are plenty of people who know nothing about China, but who are delighted to have their ignorance-borne prejudices confirmed. This audience has no interest in, nor concern over, the pain you inflict on the people of China. On the contrary, they will revel in being told what they want to hear. How easy to win their support. How easy to boost the ratings for you and for your channel. Now, as international critics mount a concerted attack on China, how delighted the anti-China groups will be to hail you as their new mouthpiece. Congratulations!

Unfortunately, your role as a mouthpiece for the demonizing of China lacks originality.

Please understand that anyone who resents the growing strength of China, in particular those 'human rights activists' who devote their entire lives to finding fault with our country, is going to face disappointment. Like it or not, the 21st century will be a century in which China will make its mark. 2008 will be a year of achievement for China.

Olympics or no Olympics, whatever natural disasters we face - however unforeseeable they might be, let external political and economic chaos confront us… are the CPI and house prices rising? Is there unrest in Tibet? Are world stock markets slumping?

Whatever the problems that confront us, the Chinese people will face the future with hope and confidence.

If you knew anything about Chinese people, you would understand the spirit concealed within us. We find strength in adversity. You cannot conceive of the manner in which, confronted by problems, we can unite and work together to overcome such obstacles.

That is why, when the Olympic torch relay was disturbed in foreign countries, Chinese people in the crowd sang aloud the national anthem of China and tried to protect the torch along the way. They knew what they were trying to protect - not only the flame representing light, solidarity, friendship, peace and justice for people all over the world, but also the dignity of the Chinese themselves.

They understand that only when their homeland is wealthy and developed will Chinese people around the world win respect and hold their heads high. We understand too that the progress and the prosperity that we have already enjoyed create resentment and unease.

And so, as China maintains its growth, it will have to deal with further attacks and insults. Our minds and our spirit are prepared for this. An often repeated expression in Chinese is "actions speak louder than words".

Mr. Cafferty, I have no idea what influence your comments will exercise on the world's audience, what further discrimination and prejudice against China they might provoke.

As your counterpart, let me offer you some sincere advice. Make a wholehearted apology, resign from your post, and face up to the consequences of your conduct. Such a course of action will make you a News Anchor with the courage to confront the truth with dignity.

In the context of the harm you have done to the Chinese people, the distorted picture you have presented to the USA and other Western countries, and the friction you have created between China and the rest of the world, your job in CNN and your fat salary are of little account.

Have no fear. You will not be the first to eat humble pie. In 2004, Robert Kilroy-Silk, the 61-year-old BBC show presenter and former Member of the British Parliament, paid the consequences for his an anti-Arab rant.

In an article entitled We Owe Arabs Nothing he wrote "What do they think we feel about them... that we admire them for being suicide bombers, limb-amputators, repressors of women?"

These incautious observations ended his 17-year broadcasting career. The BBC suspended his program, stating that their presenters have a duty to uphold the company's impartiality and fairness. Such action did not represent an infringement on freedom of speech.

Mr. Cafferty, your insults to China and its people were as ill-judged as Kilroy-Silk's words to the Arabs. I don't need to labor the point. I think you are perfectly conscious of the difference between free speech and slander.

Finally, as a Chinese, let me suggest that you come to China more often and witness its change and development yourself. I hope that this might reshape your ideas about the country. China is a civilized and courteous country, and its people are tolerant and understanding. We will happily welcome you as a guest, even if you have hurt the national feelings of such a populous country.

I offer this because we hope personal experience will change your opinion of China and its people. It would be helpful if you come to realize your ignorance about the country and experience some shame for your conduct. Once you feel some contrition, and try to make amendment for your wrongdoing, we the people of China may well accept your apology and even offer our friendship to you, since an old Chinese saying goes "To err is human, to forgive is divine".

Of course, if you cling to your existing views and refuse to apologize, we will not trouble to argue with you. The Chinese people will not be confounded by your trifling denigration. On the contrary, our endeavor and solidarity will continue to construct a stronger and more prosperous China for all your narrow-minded arrogance.

It has not been easy for China to rise to its current level, achieving goals that mean so much to its people. But we believe that even were China to enjoy the power of the United States, as a modest and aspiring nation we would still respect the rights and interests of any people, of any nation or country. Our goal is a world where every country develops peacefully in harmony, where every person lives a life of dignity and worth. To bring about such a world is everyone's duty and obligation.

(China.org.cn translated by He Shan, Zhang Rui and Huang Shan, April 20, 2008)

Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read
Pet Name
China Archives
Related >>
Most Viewed >>
- Chinese lawyers suing CNN for hostile remarks
- Full text of speech given by Li Huan at Paris rally
- College students wave national flags
- History of Tibet
- Beijing Forum on Human Rights concludes