Thursday, November 03, 2005

MacKinnon Heads to Shanghai


Rebecca MacKinnon and RConversation are headed for Shanghai to attend the Shanghai Blogger Conference. The avowed intention:

We'll be brainstorming about ways Chinese bloggers might get their views and voices heard outside of China through the global blogosphere. The session will be conducted in Mandarin.

Luckily MacKinnon, who I met last December, is fluent in Mandarin after years posted to China for CNN.

She has written a lot about government control of the Internet in China and the efforts of Chinese civilians to circumvent it, and I wonder the effects on Chinese soft power will be as a) central authority and thus censorship continues to weaken in the Middle Kingdom and b) Chinese bloggers become increasingly able to post in English rather than Mandarin.

I read the People's Daily in English when I can and would grade its translations from Chinese at about a C+. This makes it hard for me to take them as seriously as native English-language sources; that's just my bias as a native English speaker.

China's government doesn't seem to be following Al-Jazeera's practice of hiring native English-speaking journalists (like David Frost) to help influence the West yet—but as Chinese civilians' English proficiency gets better, with millions of fluent speakers developing as a result of reading and writing English on the Internet, I'd expect Beijing to put some of them to work making People's Daily a serious read for Westerners.

1 comment:

davesgonechina said...

Actually, CCTV does have a lead Western anchor for their BizChina program, Chris Gelken. They also have a few overseas Chinese, which is also a gap-bridging move.

As for translations, Peoples Daily isn't always a C+. China Radio International has a more professional team, though. They've been at it the longest.

I blog on China soft power semi-regularly, so feel free to stop by.

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