CHINA: What the U.S. Election and iPhone 5 Have in Common

It is not a rhetorical question: a US immigrant officer asked a Chinese journalist this question verbatim when he applied for a visa to cover the election in U.S. The journalist was caught off guard; he had many answers to that question, but in his point of view none of them were fathomable for an average American. After all, why would Chinese care about another country’s domestic politics?According to one of the most influential news outlet, the attitude of the Chinese media toward America’s election was polarized, and the traditional press showed little interest in covering the election. Two factors might have contributed to indifference towards the election: the territorial altercation between China and Japan occupied most newspaper space during the U.S. election campaigning period, and both candidates’ China-bashing comments might have alienated all the patriotic editors in charge of the mainstream Chinese media outlets.

On the other hand, the new media of China including major online news outlets, video streaming services, blogs, Microblogs, and even video pirating websites have extensively covered the election. Chinese students and netizens showed great enthusiasm for the election. Technology plays a definitive role in the coverage, but the younger audience of new media in China is the deciding factor here.

Progressive Chinese news readers cannot find true democracy at home, but modern technology helps them understand the election process in the U.S. The Chinese do have their general-election-type-of-event: The 18th CPC National Congress determines the future leader of China (some would suggest the leader was handpicked years ahead). However, the event is staged and choreographed by the top and does not draw nearly as much attention among the netizens as the U.S. presidential election.

Sadly, unlike iPhone 5, democracy and general election are still not being imported to China.

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