China Beat Archive



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May 28, 2008 in The China Beat


Copyright May 28, 2008. Used by permission.


1. “Can we outsource FEMA to the Chinese?” asks one reader at MSNBC’s World Blog, in response to a post on the temporary villages the Chinese government is erecting in the disaster area. Other readers also make Katrina/China earthquake comparisons. The MSNBC World Blog has been providing continuing coverage of the earthquake.

2. One of the side effects of coverage of the earthquake has been an increase in “human interest” stories on quake survivors. For instance, the story of a couple who survived together, trapped under debris, was one of the New York Times’s top e-mailed stories in the days following its publication, and a feature on thewedding photograph couples aired on CNN yesterday.

3. Quake survivors were not the only ones “humanized” by the disaster. PLA soldiers, too, have been depicted as helpful and concerned (as they are primarily viewed within China itself). [Photo below is by Guang Niu of Getty Images; reprinted from the New York Times.] It is a depiction markedly different from the usual imagery of Chinese soldiers as menacing and thuggish (an imagery similar to the depiction of the uniformed, sunglass-wearing security guards who accompanied the torch on its run). Whether this has lasting impact on American views of the Chinese military—a perspective yet tainted by the most famous images of the Chinese military in the US, those of PLA tanks on the streets outside Tiananmen in 1989—remains to be seen.