Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sensitive authoritarians

The BBC report includes a link to a video of the Chinese television broadcast of Obama's inaugural speech.

Obama speech censored in China

"China has censored parts of the new US president's inauguration speech that have appeared on a number of websites.

"Live footage of the event on state television also cut away from Barack Obama when communism was mentioned...

"In his inauguration address, President Obama said: "Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions."

That entire passage was retained for an English-language version of the speech that appeared on the website of state-run Xinhua news agency.

"But in the Chinese-language version, the word 'communism' was taken out.

"President Obama's comments addressed to world leaders who 'blame their society's ills on the West' also fell foul of the censor's red pen.

"'To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history,' the president said.

"Once again, Xinhua included the passage in full in its English version, but the sentence was taken out of the Chinese translation...

"And websites were not the only media organisations that struggled to report some of the comments made by President Obama.

"China Central Television, the country's main broadcaster, aired the speech live with a simultaneous Chinese translation.

"But when the translator got to the part where President Obama talked about facing down communism, her voice suddenly faded away.

"The programme suddenly cut back to the studio, where an off-guard presenter had to quickly ask a guest a question..."

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