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People's Daily Online>>Opinion

U.S. media's report on 'Chinese sweatshop' extremely irresponsible

By Chen Yiming (People's Daily)

16:39, March 21, 2012

Edited and translated by People's Daily Online

The U.S. radio program “This American Life” recently announced that U.S actor Mike Daisey's monologue on working conditions in Apple factories in China contains fabrications. In the monologue, Mike Daisey revealed with "his personal experience" that Shenzhen Foxconn Technology Group of China, which assembles Apple phones and tablet PCs, employed child labors.


The program contained a large part of Mike Daisey's performance in his program "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs." The two-hour monologue started performing in U.S. theaters in as early as 2010, and more than 50,000 audiences have watched it. Currently, it is still performed in public theaters of New York.

However, after the reporter of the program "Market" of the National Public Radio, who is in charge of reporting Chinese news, contacted with and interviewed Daisey's translator in China, he found that the translator's statement was quite different from Daisey's words. The part of "seeing employees poisoned by ethane" is fabricated, and he also got the ages of the employees "by guessing."

Daisey defending himself

Regarding this scandal, Daisey defended himself in his blog that he felt regret for his mistake, the wrong point was that his performance in the program was regarded as news, but actually it was not news but a performance of theater.

Daisey's words denying his mistake are widely questioned and criticized by U.S. media. An article on the New York Times said that, Daisey, who claims that he is not a reporter, did not claim that in his program, and what he called "things he personally saw" are actually things fabricated. At the end, the article says that Daisey was actually aimed at showing that Chinese factories are violating human rights, and therefore he did not care about facts.

Expert's comments

Liu Chang (vice dean of Institute of Communication Studies under the Communication University of China): This is not an individual case, and in the current ever-changing ecological media environment, untrue reports of this kind, which involve ethics and morals of media, are increasing.

The major reason is that the broadcasting station is extremely similar to some "foreign publicizing" media with government background, and news reports of these media usually highly accord with the government's foreign policy.

International reports of Western media are usually interested in bad news, especially bad news of the countries with different political systems from theirs. The U.S. media's mistaken reports on China are not technical mistakes completely caused by such things as hasting for efficiency or "not understanding China enough."

Due to the Cold War, stereotyped images on countries with different ideologies have deeply formed in minds of the Western media, and therefore, they, based on political considerations, do not care about whether their reports accord with facts. Western media have a double-standard for their domestic news reports and international news reports. The so-called "one medium, two worlds" situation is a reality admitted by many U.S. scholars of journalism.

The ethics and morals of media are turning into increasingly hot global topics, and both the press and academic circles are making self-examinations. The more the ecological media environment changes, the more the media should treat the news report objectively and cautiously. All media must stick to traditional values of news report, such as the objectiveness, faithfulness and justness.

Read the Chinese version at


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Leave your comment17 comments

  1. Name

PD User at 2012-03-3124.90.74.*
You guys live in USA and the talk in favor of china. Go back to ur mainland and rust under CCP.
PD User at 2012-03-2776.247.46.*
If Foxconn is truly as bad as you imply, it should indeed be forced to change or to shut down. But fabrications such as Daisey"s only serve to muddy the waters, making it difficult to determine what is true and what is simply anti-China propaganda. The lines between American "entertainer" and "journalists" and "scholars" have become blurred nearly out of existence. All three are subject to publishing what sells, either commercially or politically. And objective reporting on Socialist China is not what sells. Distortion, slander, and lies that rationalize Imperialist strategy and policy is what sells. And that is what gets produced. Daisey"s case is but one of thousands. It is the rarity of thehe fact that this one case was exposed that mkes it a newsworthy story. The points you raise about Foxconn may be valid , or not, but either way, that is another story for another article. This article is about the unreliability of US media.
PD User at 2012-03-2776.247.46.*
I hope Chinese labor law shoots for a higher ideal than "as good as the West." I live in the USA where 90 percent of workers have NO union, independent or otherwise. And the few existing unions are no more independent of the Democratic Party than Chinese unions are of the Communist Party. But, I agree that if labor laws, such as minimum wage, etc. are being violated, then enforcement should be strengthened. In the stage of primitive capital accumulation, the need for developing the economy may some times have to take precedence over other factors, but workers rights can not be put on hold for long without jeopardizing China"s Socialist character.
PD User at 2012-03-2476.200.146.*
to "meh"Perhaps you missed the first line of this piece, which credits TAL for announcing Daisey"s fabrications.
Joe the Plumber at 2012-03-2376.200.159.*
Thank you for this story. I saw Deasey present his “report” several weeks ago on the “Democracy Now” TV program, the same day a protest at an Apple store was reported. It was pretty obvious he was there to publicize his book and his “performance” show. I often find “Democracy Now” an informative program, but unfortunately, that night the moderators only cheered Deasey on, rather than question any of his misstatements. Indeed, when the reporter from the New York Times, who also appeared on the program, did raise some cautions regarding a couple of Deasey’s more absurd claims, one of the moderators quickly squelched him with barely restrained hostility. It is not surprising that she was predisposed to believe the worst about China, since every day in the USA we are constantly bombarded with anti-China propaganda of the kind Deasey was peddling. It is good to see the rare instance when it has been exposed. But this non-stop demonization of China is so omnipresent in our media that even when such lies are exposed, many still blame “the Chinese,” preferring to believe that even if they didn’t do what they are accused of, they are guilty anyway --- if not of this, than of something just as evil. Gonna take a long time, if ever, to set the record straight, but thanks for doing what you can to help in that effort.

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