The Dullsvillain

Slinging mud at the media of Dullsville (aka Perth, Western Australia)

Let’s all have a big international punch on!

with 4 comments

Penbo: the heavy hitter

Penbo: "The Punch's" heavy hitter

David Penberthy, the editor of The Punch get quite agitated about the Melbourne Film Festival insanity.

The quick background: Melbourne Film Festival decide to include a film about a woman accused by Chinese government of being a terrorist. In return, the Chinese government demand they cancel the film, and some Chinese directors withdraw from the festival.

I will say my opinion about all this at the end, but first I want to “sling mud” at the fear-monger David Penberthy, because the last thing Australia needs is over-exaggeration of China’s badness, because the Chinese government itself does good enough job of that.

“Penbo” began with the normal tabloid attack on the cosmopolitan types often associate negatively with the sipping of the milky coffee (for what reason, I never understand – something about milk not being cool?).

Superficially, it’s an arthouse issue that affects a small number of culture vultures and cineastes who won’t see a movie unless it’s got subtitles.

Quickly into the stoking the long-standing (always?) fear by Australians of Chinese “descending” by force of gravity… oh sorry  no of course it has been updated, these days is… Chinese imports:

It’s actually one of the most compelling and alarming stories in Australia today, as it shows how the most pernicious features of a totalitarian regime have been imported into our own country.

How so imported? By the fact that Australia allow Chinese consular officials to reside inside the country, where they might make complaints? These diplomats are a Chinese import, and a cheap one at that. Ha, yes I guess all countries should cut diplomatic relations if they don’t like each other.

No, but really being serious, what is really the cheap import from China this time, according to Penbo? Two words: totalitarian dictatorship.

In case the meaning isn’t clear from the word itself, American Heritage definition of “totalitarian”:

“Of, relating to, being, or imposing a form of government in which the political authority exercises absolute and centralized control over all aspects of life, the individual is subordinated to the state, and opposing political and cultural expression is suppressed.”

And Collins:

“of a political system in which there is only one party, which allows no opposition and attempts to control everything” [emphasis add by me]

Despite human rights abuses, media control, whatever, anyone who ever has been to China, wait, anyone who has even seen a PICTURE of the chaos of a China street corner will know how absurd this is. (Actually a picture of anywhere except Tiananmen, where those green armed police guarding the palace always make a great tourist photo, just like Buckingham, make you feel like you are defying the authority, right? Especially ABC journos, weren’t they called to be “soft on Communism”?!).

And then, as they say, “and then…”:

A total of seven Chinese movies have been cut from the program as directors pulled out for fear of being black-banned or persecuted for sharing the bill with the Uighur film, or the podium with Kadeer.

Not need to ask why, of course, everyone knows all Chinese just obey the government commands. Is it not possible some or all of the Chinese directors who pull out actually themselves decide don’t want to attend, maybe because of the race riots last month and the possibility Kadeer’s organisation have some connection, or the belief in that theory in China? Actually I think this is a perfectly reasonable way to express dissatisfaction with a festival organiser’s decision. They are not trying to stop people seeing the film.

Think about this please Mr Penbo: if someone make a documentary following Bin Laden around, of course most Australians and many Americans probably want to see it (unlike Chinese, who just wish this Kadeer film not exist). However, if Bin Laden travels around and makes appearance at some film festivals, maybe say Cannes, and a bunch of American directors withdraw in protest, are they automatic acting because the American government told them to?

The article goes on to talk about how mass numbers of “Chinese nationals” have been buying all the festival tickets, sabotaging the website and even playing the Chinese national anthem down the phone!

“It’s a sort of faceless tactic, and it’s consistent with the type of intimidation tactics and approaches that have been taken elsewhere.”

Ooooooh, those faceless Chinese! Never showing their faces, except when they come out in public for the TV cameras to make…

…rent-a-crowd ugliness at last year’s torch relay.

This last mentioned item is maybe the important point of the whole issue. It IS the same forces working as the torch relay last year:

a.) it’s definitely the work of some angry youth of China, and not the Chinese government doing it, although they would minimise this behaviour if they understand their own interests (as explain below); once Chinese government complains something publicly, and suddenly the Chinese “angry youth” get angry.

b.) only some Chinese persons are like this: maybe a few hundred thousand get very loud on-line, make a lot of noise. That’s how many per-cent of the population?

c.) the bunch of comments at the bottom of Penbo’s article look like written by the “angry youth” of Australia. Just like those after the torch relay last year.

Meanwhile, public opinion in the two countries moves further apart.

Obviously the Chinese government couldn’t possibly be controlling these “angry youth” reactions. My roommate is just come to Perth from Shanghai (where I think most people actually DISSlike the Chinese government) but still his first reaction is that “if this film is biased and will make people think badly of China then we should try to protect the country’s international image.”

The problem is the government apparently still don’t understand that this kind of reaction create MUCH more harm to China’s “international image” than the screening of a doco film about a little old lady that don’t like China at a film festival in the “arse end of the world”.


Written by Zhu Hongbing

August 4, 2009 at 3:40 am

4 Responses

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  1. Great analogy with Osama Bin Laden at Cannes. Admittedly on my first read of Penbo’s post, I pretty much swallowed it and thought, “tsk tsk, lay off, Chinese people”. But as you point out it’s ridiculous and inflamatory for Penbo to claim that the token meddling of a consular official and the behaviour of a small number of angry youths constitutes the import of totalitarianism.


    August 4, 2009 at 9:48 pm

  2. Thanks Dick. Dont get me wrong, it is very bad, very stupid behaviour. “Tsk tsk” i think is okay reaction – in contrast, of course, to Pembo trying to expand everyone’s fear of China’s influence of Australian life, when of course China have absolutely no influence on Australian life. People always forget, although China has some influence perhaps in some Africa countries, but really it is still not that powerful in the world and will remain like that for a long time, during which time China society/government will obviously progress a long way. Communist party has so much to deal with within China if it wants to keep power. An old Australian driver man I met the other day was very right. when he saw some video of the Xinjiang riots, he said: “Geeez, I wouldnt want Hu Jintao job, no way. That would be hardest job in the world.”

    BUT the good thing is that the crazy interfering behavior is clearly not in China’s benefit: one day Chines government will understand this, and that day will be long before China is the most powerful country.

    Totally stupid for the Chinese government what they did, and the “patriotic youth” too, because their aim is to defend China “international image” and clearly this is SO much worse for China’s international image than just the documentary by itself.

    Zhu Hongbing

    August 5, 2009 at 10:21 am

  3. Hi there, I stumbled upon your blog via Msn while looking for a company that was an importer from china

    Trula Cutten

    February 8, 2010 at 5:15 pm

  4. It seems to me that this site doesnt load up on a Motorola Droid. Are other people getting the exact same issue? I like this webpage and dont want to have to skip it any time Im away from my computer.


    June 4, 2012 at 3:08 pm

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