China Comment

Energy, Environment, and Economy

Need China Experts

It appears that once again, the Wall Street Journal needs more China experts, if not geography experts- either that or more photographers.

I was perusing page A6 of the Saturday/Sunday July 5-6, 2008 edition and saw an article titled “Political Unrest in Mongolia May Hinder Mining Investment.” (by: Patrick Barta and Jason Leow) I looked beneath the title and saw a photo identified as “A Chinese worker shovels coal in Baotou, nestled in the sand-sculpted ravines of Inner Mongolia, on Tuesday,” and wondered why a photograph of Inner Mongolia, which is part of China, is used to illustrate a point regarding Outer Mongolia, which is an independent country.

I read the article and could find no particular reason the WSJ used a photograph from Inner Mongolia, save that perhaps an editor became confused and thought Inner Mongolia referred to the country of “Mongolia.”

I wouldn’t be mentioning this trifle, save that back during the T%%betan rioting, the WSJ made a similar geographical mistake. In the March 15, 2008 article “Protesters’ Message Spread By Activists World-Wide,” by Alistair MacDonald, Suzanne Sataline, and Peter Sanders, a city- Xiahe, was described as being located in T%%%bet. Xiahe, actually, is in Gansu province. I wrote to the Journal and received an email commendation for correcting their faux-pas

Around three days later, a graphic clearly demonstrated Xiahe was located in Gansu province, a couple of hundred miles away from T$$$bet. A week and a half later, a correction was printed. Admittedly, Xiahe is located on the T***betan plateau, so I can understand how a mistake was made. Still, in a newspaper the caliber of the WSJ, a simple geographical mistake like that, or the current Mongolia faux-pas should not happen.

These mistakes, along with other press outlets’ embarassing mislabling of photographs detailing police oppression of T%%%betans in Nepal as police oppression of T$$$$betans in China, need to be avoided. The world needs to increase its China-literacy considering how economically important the country has become of late. [Of course police oppression happened in both countries, but mislabeling and misrepresenting photographs does much to damage the agenda of people seeking sympathy (Jim Yardley of the NYT mentions the mislabeling in a March 31st article on page 2 of this piece.)]

Oh well, here’s to hoping the WSJ looks a little closer at the geography next time they do a story on China. I love the WSJ and hope it can still continue as one of the world’s most respected newspapers.

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6 July, 2008 - Posted by | China General | , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. This is a common mistake. In Singapore, where I am working and living at the moment, most of the local Singaporean Chinese assume Inner Mongolia when I say that I am from Mongolia. It is baffling, considering Mongolia is a pretty large landmass in North / Central Asia and all that one has to do is take as second to look at a map.

    Comment by Bilguun | 15 July, 2008


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