CCTV FOLLIES 10.30 ANOTHER NO-NEWS DAY IN CHINA
Xi's the top story and the sun still shines -Li Keqiang who? -Women meet their match in Xi -Greece is but a buckle in the Belt and Road -On the ground in Gaza -US, root of all conflict, in decline!
The big news today is there is no news in China, except for a few staged photo-ops at the top of the hour. Foreign news reports (for those who can access them) are full of tributes and speculation about the untimely death of former premier.
Li Keqiang is dead, but you wouldn’t know much about that watching CCTV unless you caught the early morning announcement on October 27, which was followed by official silence, nationwide bans on mourning and media coverage.
Even Biden’s condolences to Li Keqiang were erased from China’s diplomatic record of the president’s meeting with foreign minister Wang Yi.
At a time like this, when the news isn’t even in the news, when politicians are disappeared without explanation and even the dead go unmourned, the jarred and disconcerted populace, some of whom are genuinely confused, need reassurance, and what could be more reassuring that seeing this familiar mug?
Like dyspeptic Jabba the Hut, Xi presides over big meetings like an all but motionless blob, dour poker face maintained throughout.
So preternaturally calm and dignified, so all-knowing and authoritative—what a balm for troubled souls as the nation turns its lonely eyes to you!
Xi doesn’t go anywhere without butler extraordinaire, sideman and axeman, Cai Qi.
When Xi talks, Cai Qi sets the mood in the room by jotting down notes, a signal that this is the only appropriate way to behave when the master is issuing gems of wisdom.
-What is the master on about today?
-Who else is inside the politburo man-cave in Zhongnanhai?
-Why are there women present? Isn’t the politburo an all-man affair?
“Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, on Monday called for efforts to organize and motivate women to contribute their strength to Chinese modernization. Xi, also Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, stressed following a socialist path with Chinese characteristics for women's development. Xi made the remarks during a talk with the new leadership of the All-China Women's Federation. Xi stressed women's irreplaceable role in fully building China into a strong country and achieving national rejuvenation through a Chinese path to modernization, which requires all Chinese people to work together. Cai Qi, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee and a member of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee, attended the event.” (Xinhua readout)
All the women in the All-China Women's Federation listened politely and took notes.
China’s sage image-makers sure know how to flip a diplomatic switch. Things going sluggish on US-China diplomatic front? US not yielding to the latest outrageous demands? Time to trot out the Flying Tigers, and have them meet Han Zheng! What better way to revive fading memories of an ancient high-point in Sino-US cooperation that dates back to the 1930’s when Japan was the common enemy!
The only thing of interest in this clearly manipulative photo-op feint of friendship is the living, breathing presence of three “tigers” —centenarians at this point, and wonderfully informal in manner and dress.
As for economic news, even CCTV viewers know that statistics can be jigged and juggled. But there’s no arguing with piles of gold coins and upward pointing arrows. Another red banner report on China’s booming economy!
One of the few advantages of being spam in a can floating above the earth is that it puts some distance between the astronaut and the nutty politics of the motherland. Some distance, but not much. Here the six astronauts aboard the Tiangong space station repeat Xi-centric formulations about joint struggle on Xi’s New Journey.
China is stamping out advanced computer chips and other high-tech devices without any help from the US, so the US should drop its mean-spirited sanctions right away.
Economically-troubled Greece, a key European buckle on the Belt and Road, is indebted to China for investments (for which it has ceded a degree of control) in the important port of Piraeus, among other projects. So it’s no surprise that Greece “hears the call of the Silk Road” and should be entranced with “the natural glories of China.”
The statue of an ancient Chinese sage in conversation with an ancient Greek philosopher is viewed with awe by a tall Chinese man and blonde Greek woman. Hunan TV has already produced “Marx meets Confucius” so this may well be the next in a series that culminates in “Xi Jinping sits down with Jesus and Muhammad to highlight the key points of his New Journey in the New Era of shared humanity.”
There’s a hefty foreign news section today thanks, in part, to the fact that nothing of interest has happened in China (other than Xi’s big meeting) and thus the domestic news offers especially thin gruel today.
Nothing of importance happening in China? Maybe you’ve heard about former premier Li Keqiang’s sudden and unexpected passing? If so, probably not on CCTV, because it hasn’t devoted any air time to this apparently minor story, which is close to being relegated to the dust bin, other than the initial terse announcement made at 8AM on the day of his mysterious death.
Other than that, it’s all about Xi, all the time, direct and indirect.
If CCTV has momentarily gone shy on China, it’s foreign coverage is robust today, offering over fifty didactic images from Gaza to dazzle and distract with, including on-the-ground reports and some great views of the US fleet in the Mediterranean, so tighten your seat-belts for an up close and at times personal view of how CCTV sees the current conflict. Plus, a scintillating update on Russia’s special military operation and the continued decline of the US, as illustrated in a lavish spread on rampant gun violence.
CCTV’s narration about Gaza is neither detailed nor informative. As is the case with Kremlin updates on the Russian project in Ukraine, it’s mostly left to the pictures to tell the story. The story today, as in recent days, is a story of Gaza suffering under the assault of Israel which is being murderous and militarily aggressive for no apparent reason.
CCTV still hasn’t covered the massacres committed by Hamas, nary a word for the rampage and orgy of an ISIS-style death cult that killed 1400 Israelis in a matter of hours. Showing no sympathy for Israel makes it easier for Chinese diplomats to uphold Wang Yi’s refusal (in line with Russia and Iran) to condemn Hamas.
It also serves as a conduit to channel Arab world anger against Israel, which as CCTV repeatedly instructs, is a proxy for the turmoil-seeking US which is constantly warring and backing wars to maintain its hegemony.
China owes a great deal to the mistakes and missteps of US hegemony because it wants to position itself, in the smoke and ashes of the collapse of the US-led world order, as the economic winner and Belt and Road benefactor of a new multipolar world order with Xi at the helm.