5 Things the Foreign Media Gets Wrong About China

5 Things the Foreign Media Gets Wrong About China
Repost Oct 28, 2017 By Andrea Scarlatelli , eChinacities.com

"Grandma in China Fighting Property Developers Reportedly Buried Alive"; "North Korea Wants to Nuke US, So Why is China Lending a Hand?" To say that China is a misunderstood country would be a bit of an understatement. Media outlets in countries around the world paint a picture of "the Wild East" that is often misinformed or just plain inaccurate. Many of these misconceptions could be cleared up simply by living or working for an extended period of time in China itself. Since this isn’t possible for most people, I’ve put together a list of some of the more common mistakes that I feel the Western media makes about China and its people.

What does the foreign media get wrong about china
Photo: Ralphrepo

1) There is no Christianity in China
It’s true that Christianity in China is a sort of "modified" Christianity. However, many people in the West don’t think that Christianity exists at all here. Others believe that, if it does, its followers are a persecuted minority who are shunned by their fellow citizens. While this may have been true at one point in history, the facts are that Christianity in China is growing faster than at any other point in the country’s history. Mike Falkenstine, author of The Chinese Puzzle, is an expert in this area and points out that Chinese universities are increasingly adding Christian studies to their curriculum, while Bibles are handed out with government approval.

There are limits, however, to how much the population is taught. Church services taught in Chinese are open to everyone, but those taught in English are restricted to people owning foreign passports. This is because services performed for the Chinese leave out the whole Jesus thing, instead focusing on the less controversial "Love thy neighbor as thyself" idea. So while Christianity is still inhibited here, there are plenty of practicing Christians who are proud of their faith.

2) China’s government acts as a single, non-debated entity
While it’s true that China is communist and, therefore, effectively a one party government, there are actually quite a few provincial and city-level political bodies that have a limited measure of governing power. These local politicians, like those in the West, are in a constant competition with each other to satisfy the residents of their respective districts, leading to the slow but steady bettering of the common civilian’s life. Even members of the Communist party don’t always agree with each other, especially on the issue of how much personal freedom should be allowed. There is certainly a lot of room for improvement, and there will always be controversy as long as China continues to do things such as restrict internet freedom, but the Western media certainly exaggerates in many instances.

3) All Chinese women are oppressed
This is one misconception I admit I struggled with when first moving here. My image of the quiet, obedient Chinese housewife was one that had been implanted in me from movies and books from an early age. Moving to Shanghai, however, quickly corrected that image! While China is unquestionably male dominated (as are most other countries and cultures) and there are still many places here, especially in the countryside, where women are seen as second class citizens, China is on its way towards recognizing females as equals. Shanghainese women, especially, are certainly not wallflowers. I’ve witnessed plenty of times when Shanghainese women have the men running around like scared children (a funny, but also kind of scary scene).

There’s even a town in Yunnan Province that’s entirely female dominated – the men, if they displease the women, run the risk of being kicked out of their homes without a cent to their names. So while gender rights have a long way to go here, China's women are not quite the docile creatures the Western media makes them out to be.

4) China’s government is the same as it was 50 years ago
When Deng Xiaoping reformed the Communist regime 30 years ago, there was a huge change in both policy and attitude in China. As the years have progressed, China has not only accepted but actively embraced both foreign and local entrepreneurs. Capitalism, while not the governmental basis of China, has come to play a major role in the country and its development. The current president continues to uphold this trend, making China a vastly different country – both politically and economically – than it was 50 years ago.

5) China is still living in the dark ages
While many residents still living in China's rural areas are very poor and without basic necessities, there is an increasing number flocking to the cities, where wages are higher and quality of life is better. While many people still farm, it’s much more likely now that their children or grandchildren are getting proper schooling, which will allow them to become professionals in the big cities. It’s estimated that by the year 2050, 50% of Chinese residents will live in major metropolitan areas.

Just take a look around you – see all those construction sites and scaffolding? That’s just one visible sign of this country’s huge and rapid growth. As the cities continue booming, and the children of farmers send home more and more money, this developing nation will certainly lose it’s "dark ages" reputation sooner rather than later.

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Keywords: China rules China etiquette


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Every single one of these so-called misconceptions are absolutely true. The author comes off as completely clueless. Let's go through them to find out why. 1. No Christianity in China. If they leave out the whole "Jesus thing" then how can that possibly be called Christianity seeing as how it is based on and takes its very name from Jesus Christ? You really didn't think this one through did you? 2. Yes China acts like a single entity...the big guy at the top runs the show and everything is rubber stamped on its way down. "Limited governing power" is really no real governing power at all is it? You must have really have to stretch for this one, didn't you? 3. China is still very much a man's place...as even you admitted. Shanghai is a special case as it is quite Westernized in many regards. It certainly can't be used as any measuring stick for the rest of China. 4. No it's still pretty much the same. Just because capitalism is no longer seen as bad and just because there is a lot of flashy tech here...doesn't mean the same old attitudes mostly prevail. There is still limited upward mobility, still limited political freedom, still limited movement...I could go on but I think you get the point. 5. Yes it is still living in the Dark Ages. It may be moving (as you claim) toward a more enlightened era but it hasn't got there yet. And just because 50% or more of China's population will be living in a city means nothing in terms of improving civilization. That is absolutely irrelevant

Nov 06, 2017 20:45 Report Abuse




Oct 30, 2017 10:38 Report Abuse



commenting to get my 2 points

Oct 30, 2017 10:06 Report Abuse



This guy was born yesterday, so give him a break. A few things are true though.

Oct 29, 2017 19:37 Report Abuse



Exactly which Western Media outlets do you get your information from? Fox News? Go stick your head back up the local party reps arse you lickspittle.

Oct 29, 2017 08:59 Report Abuse



Propaganda BS.

Oct 28, 2017 22:59 Report Abuse



How can you say that there is Christianity for the Chinese when they leave out the whole "Jesus thing". All this article shows is that you have no idea what you are writing about. It is like teaching Buddhism but leaving out the whole Buddha thing.

Oct 28, 2017 12:48 Report Abuse



Demonization other races especially their males is in western men's blood

Jun 23, 2012 14:26 Report Abuse


Michael Baron

Actually I wrote an article about the foreign media being unfair to China a while ago: (The article title is Get the Message Right and it was published by Beijing Review)
So I fully agree- Westerners fail to see the Chinese prospective and are highly subjective when it comes to appreciating life and events that take place in another culture!

Nov 13, 2011 06:08 Report Abuse


Herbert N. Hale

How do such articles get published?
Heck, how do they get read?
Worse yet, how can anyone find them of value?

Oct 26, 2011 18:42 Report Abuse



You write something then, herbert.

Oct 27, 2011 04:08 Report Abuse



I'm an atheist from Scandinavia and I thought christianity would be more common here in China because a childhood friend of mine who has been working for the church here told me so.
But after living here for one year I would say the Christianity is luckily still very small here.
And I hope it stays small, as I think the west has much to learn from the east when it comes to morality and ethics. A world without Christianity, Islam and Judaism is much more peaceful and friendly. So I beg you all missionaries. Please don't go here. Please stay at home and start with finding out what went wrong in the west, before you mess up China!

Oct 17, 2011 02:58 Report Abuse



"The Wolves Pursuing Sol and Mani" (1909) by J. C. Dollman.
It's very suggestive northern gods mythology, beeing catholic open eyes not only on death matter, but after it? who gave life to life? bad behaviour of christians sounds louder, why? what people really expect from Christ?

Oct 17, 2011 10:54 Report Abuse



Personally I think all the non-citizens of china should mind their own business. The reason America is ion such shambles now is because we butt in too much. Let other countries and their citizens deal with their own issues! If the men in Shanghai dont want to be under the control of their wives like a pussy then they should get a different woman and if the women in other parts wealthy or not, well dressed or not dont want to put up with their husbands, then they should leave also. If neither know any better, then so f#*!ing what...too bad. EXPATS stop getting into others business. If America let well enough alone in other countries, we would not have had to experience 9/11 or Pearl harbor. And before you all reply with angry smart blah blah comments...I'm American...have been an expat living in China,....served in the Army and am happily married to a chinese women that is NOT americanized and she and I know that the minute she becomes "Americanized" I'll be finding another wife. And yes...i do believe there is a reason why america has the most stressed out husbands and highest divorce rate. (TO HONOR AND OBEY) is ignored in america! My wife is more than happy to continue to live and practice her countries more traditional culture and I'm happy to accept that!

Oct 17, 2011 02:18 Report Abuse


Dan Smith

here is a nice steaming cup of shut the hell up....

no 9/11?

you blame the USA?

you have been drinking something or smoking something that is not even

related to common sense.

America got itself into bed with the internationalists and fiat money crowd.

China has the good sense to avoid these leeches.

But, to blame America for getting itself attacked on 9/11 when many of us

lost friends and associates to an Islamic idiot- that tears it.

Oct 17, 2011 17:02 Report Abuse



Just like to comment on Christianity in China. English services are offered in big cities and i attended a lot of them and just like home. But just a point to stressed out, Christianity without Jesus is not Christianity at all. Because Jesus is the Christ, where the name CHRISTianity comes. Very basic, though. :) God loves us all.

Oct 16, 2011 23:58 Report Abuse



Personally, I think the Christianity bit on this thread is pretty irrelevant... religion in general, though, would have been more significant!! There IS misconception about that.

But, in reference to it, what little Christianity I have experienced from the local converts suggests to me that it is not very well explained. All of those I've spoken to don't even know that there are different denominations, nor therefore the differences between them.

As Pinoy said, Christianity, by definition, requires Christ... those converts I've spoken with don't seem to fully understand Christ's significance in the religion, but just say that they believe in God.. and that Jesus has something to do with it... somehow, somewhere..... just, not sure how and why!

Oct 17, 2011 01:44 Report Abuse



Your right, most people don't really understand that China has changed in the last 50 years or much about the country or people for that matter.
I think China should make themselves known to the outside world and bring down the Great Firewall of China. How is anyone able to get to know China if they stop people from talking about China. Good or Bad, it should be discussed. I love this country, people and culture and I am not even Chinese but that is why I stay.

Oct 15, 2011 22:54 Report Abuse



Foreign media is white media . if it's not white it's not right. Anything that happens in China is happening in the west now or did happen at one time.
The biggest media owners are white and corrupt, not to mention some are spies for their goverment including those so called christian priest (spies).

All we see and hear is controlled by the white devil, unless you are blind, dumb, and deaf .

China needs to defend it's self at all times as much as possible from the white is right mentality.

Oct 15, 2011 19:05 Report Abuse



Chinese media is Chinese government media - the govt tells the media what they are allowed to tell the people, and tells them what they are not allowed to talk about - AT ALL! If it's not a bright happy face about China, then it's not allowed. NO criticism of Chinese government or policy is allowed in the media. People are not allowed to express their own opinion which goes against the government - for fear of being put in jail.

The Chinese government is 100% completely corrupt! To be in government here, it means, by definition, that you are corrupt - have taken pay-offs, have offered pay-offs, to expect pay-offs.Attempts to weed out corruption have themselves been destroyed by that corruption.

The Chinese government has spies to ensure that anyone who criticises the government finds themselves removed from society.

All you see and here in this country is carefully censored by the government.

The rest of the world... oh, and all those in China as well - needs to be cautious about anything to do with the Chinese government at all times, and the China is always right (and strong, and free, and....).

Like many non-Chinese visitors to this country, I love most of it - but China has some significant improvements before it becomes a First World country. Such as removal of corruption, transparency in government, freedom of speech, good laws and law enforcement, quality assurance measures, cleaner environment, and much less materialism and more respect for other people. These are not 'western' ideals - they are CIVILISED ideals! Ideals that I've heard many Chinese say they wish for their own country!

"The west" =\= "America". Nor just the UK, Australia. The west also means Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Monaco, Italy and a whole stack of other countries - all with different values, attitudes, opinions - but with similar ideas about what 'civilised' is... and it doesn't matter if in that country you are black, brown, yellow, white, pink or any other colour - those ideals still remain the same for everyone!

Oct 16, 2011 21:57 Report Abuse



I agree with the above article. There are so much misconceptions about China, and in my opinion if we want to know China we need to travel there and not rely on paper views.

Oct 14, 2011 23:49 Report Abuse


David 1

To state the "bleeding obvious", the Communist[?] government censors all references to "the Square" Tibet and would rather not discuss Taiwan.
The majority of Chinese, even the well educated often swallow the party line. Why wouldn't they when they haven't been allowed to hear any other view.
It seems to me that most people in China , especially the young have no interest in politics which suits the government fine. The main objective of the Communist [?] Party is to stay in power

Oct 14, 2011 21:21 Report Abuse



I'd like to see an article about how much Chinese media misunderstands the west. Cause it's a hell of a lot worse.

Oct 14, 2011 20:44 Report Abuse


Live Here

Do you ever actually READ the "foreign media?" I do. It simply doesn't say what you claim it says. Where are quotes from actual foreign media sources? Please tell me you don't get paid to write this drivel. If you were to call this article "5 Things Uninformed Foreigners BELIEVE About China" this might have been a decent article. I live in China and read quite a bit of "foreign media" and most of it is pretty accurate in its reporting about China. How does one get a job writing for Ecities, anyway? Is this a "guanxi" thing or something? This article is simply garbage, sorry.

Oct 14, 2011 19:52 Report Abuse



Wow, this list is ridiculous. Did you all time travel from the 1940s? The stereotyping is seriously far-fetched. If you don’t live under a rock, youd know that China has been by FAR the most progressive nation in the last few decades - China in the "Dark Ages?" Seriously? It more than underwent TWICE the amount of modernization that the US did in less than HALF the time.

Sep 04, 2010 07:15 Report Abuse