Following Folha’s centenary celebrations, a reader suggested that I analyze the newspaper’s coverage of China during these 100 years. I am sorry to disappoint the demanding reader. But this suggestion made me think of China in the foreign press, and of Folha in particular.
Given the level of ignorance about China – not only, but also in Brazil – the task of monitoring and better understanding the Asian country is urgent. For this, foreign correspondents are lacking in China. Sinologists are lacking in Brazil. There is a lack of people who navigate between different cultures, who speak Mandarin, who catch nuances.
In Brazil and elsewhere, passionate opinions, categorical positions, and definitive opinions about China abound. Information and analysis are lacking.
It is impossible to understand the world at a minimum today without knowing a little more about China. I said over 70 columns when I started writing for Folha. This still applies today. For those who missed the news, China is expected to be the world’s largest economy before 2030. The pandemic was ahead of expectations. Of course, economics does not explain everything, but it is certainly important and has repercussions on other aspects of international life.
To complicate matters, the world is in the hands of very few foreign media based here. They are the ones who filter what accompanies China abroad. In the absence of a richer and more diversified coverage, it is primarily the British magazine The Economist and the newspapers The New York Times (USA) and Financial Times (United Kingdom) which inform international public opinion about the China. There are others, of course, but there are literally a few guiding conversations outside of China about the country.
If that wasn’t enough, with tensions between China and the United States, reporters had their credentials revoked on both sides last year. And a handful of foreign journalists with experience in China have left the country, further limiting foreign coverage here.
Last year, Folha made the right decision to partner with Caixin, one of the few vehicles from China that does investigative reporting. Caixin, moreover, generally explores more original angles in his relations with the country. A Chinese look at China is obviously important, and Folha has added diversity to her coverage. A newspaper correspondent here would clearly be of even greater gain for the reader.
As for China, there is still a world for the Brazilian press to explore. I reflected on it as Globonews scrutinized, county by county, the votes for the US presidential election in a marathon that lasted several days.
I thought about our ignorance of China when I saw the beautiful series that Folha published, in the context of the elections in the USA, investigating “the different microcosms which are each of the 50 American states”.
I couldn’t help but wonder if the reader would be able to name five Chinese provinces. Three? No, the city doesn’t matter. Speaking of the city, I will write about Chongqing again one day. The biggest city in the world that no one has ever heard of.
In fact, the year that Folha celebrates its 100th anniversary, the Chinese Communist Party is also celebrating its centenary. I will await a special report on this subject. Newspaper gift for the reader.
Providing informed and balanced coverage, bringing well-founded analysis and opinion on China is not only a challenge for Folha, it is for the press around the world. But the newspaper has its demanding readers there.
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