Posted by: Third Tone Devil | 19 March 2011

Chinese reactions to earthquake in Japan

Predictably, there is quite a bit of schadenfreude on the Chinese Internet about the earthquake in Japan. One e-mail from a student in Shanghai, circulated on the Minjian International mailing list, speculates that part of the reason might be the tortuous logic that if parts of Japan’s east coast will become uninhabitable, then Japan will be “even more” covetous of Chinese land, so that “if we show them sympathy now, it will be too late to cry in the event of a war.”

A longer discussion on Minjian International shed light on the entanglements between Phoenix TV, the main Chinese-language news channel, and the higher echelons of Chinese cadredom, which make the uniformity of the political discourse on the station more understandable. The discussion focused on Qin Feng, a Japan-based reporter for Phoenix TV, who emphasised in a blog post that she had “no feelings whatsover” for Japan and therefore was able to observe the unfolding events at a distance. Before returning to China — as she wrote, out of a desire to see the 60th anniversary festivities of the PRC — and joining Phoenix, Qin was in the Chinese foreign service. Qin writes that she began wearing red “for China” at that time, although she had always preferred black and white.

According to a biographic sketch circulated on Minjian International, Qin’s father and grandfather — an “old revolutionary” — were both high-ranking cadres. Qin was awarded Phoenix’s Reporter of the Year award in 2008, after a report in which showed EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson drinking Chinese milk earned Premier Wen Jiabao’s personal commendation. She also reported on the Wenchuan earthquake, and said that she found Chairman Hu Jintao’s “grief-stricken face unforgettable.”

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