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Controversial British report sparks online dispute
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Netizens are showing their irritation at a Times Online report of September 19. The report covered a man allegedly holding his girlfriend as a hostage, and claimed that Kunming, the provincial capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province where two similar incidents are said to have occurred, seemed to "have quite a reputation for hostage-taking".

According to the report, "an unidentified man held a woman said to be his girlfriend out of a third floor window for more than two hours as police tried to talk him down", and the man was finally persuaded by specialist hostage negotiators to give himself up. The report mentioned two other hostage incidents in the city and described Kunming as a city that has "quite a reputation for hostage-taking".

The expression aroused disagreement among netizens. Alex, a netizen from London said in the comment that "Why is this reported in such a blasé (meaning 'biased') way? Is there a difference when it happens here in the west than when it happens over in China, or elsewhere?" His comment was echoed by Jennifer from London and Christina Dickinson from Macedonia, who said they didn't like the tone of the article.

Some claimed that the report was more anti-China than newsworthy, while Chris Stevens from Australia thought there was "not much of a story" and he expected "some Chinese to claim this is anti-China".

Raja from London thought the act should be categorized as "domestic violence" and not trivialized as a "lovers' quarrel" as stated in the report. However another netizen, Martyn from Holland, pointed out that the report only claimed that the girl was "said to be his girlfriend", and that there was therefore "no evidence that this is domestic violence".

Experts said that some Western media often sensationalize reports for commercial purposes. But they found it unconvincing and even ridiculous to describe the city as having a reputation for hostage-taking on the basis of only three incidents. Statistics from relevant United Nations and European Union organizations both show that Britain tops the list of European countries for its crime rate, but Chinese media do not make a practice of labeling the UK as "a country with a reputation for crime". The article undoubtedly undermined the so-called unbiased and objective reporting of Western media.

(China.org.cn by Huang Shan, December 23, 2008)

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