RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
A nationalist fervor has taken hold in China. Protesters there have taken to the streets in several cities. They called for a boycott of a major French retail chain, Carrefour. It was targeted because French protesters disrupted the Olympic torch relay in Paris. The Chinese were also protesting what they see as bias in the Western media.
NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports from Beijing about one young man who's played a prominent role in shaping public opinion in cyberspace about the reporting he's seen.
(Soundbite of shouting)
Unidentified Man: (French spoken)
ANTHONY KUHN: French television broadcasts scenes of Chinese protesting at several outlets of the chain over the weekend. Yesterday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy sent a letter expressing sympathy to Chinese Paralympics fencer, Jin Jing. She was assaulted while carrying the Olympic torch through the streets of Paris. China's leaders are apparently nervous about the snowballing nationalism on the streets and on the Internet.
(Soundbite of typing)
KUHN: In the vanguard of the movement is the Web site AntiCNN.com. It's the brain child of Rau Jin(ph), a skinny 23-year-old Internet entrepreneur with wire-rimmed glasses, a ThinkPad laptop and a Treo cell phone.
Mr. RAU JIN (Anticnn.com): (Foreign language spoken)
KUHN: Ah, look, he says with a satisfied smile. Our Web site has far more page views today than npr.org.
Rau's site has hundreds of part time volunteers worldwide compiling and translating foreign media reports. The site's front page displays a photograph from CNN's Web site. It shows a Chinese military truck, but crops out Tibetan rioters stoning it. A Washington Post Web site photo shows a policeman beating a Tibetan protestor in Nepal, but the caption describes unrest inside Tibet. The Post and CNN later corrected the errors.
Mr. JIN: (Foreign language spoken)
KUHN: But what's more serious than these pictures or their captions, Rau says, are the values, the ideology, and the prejudice between the lines. Rau and many Chinese believe the errors were intentional. Rau points to the April 9th edition of the CNN show, "The Situation Room," in which commentator Jack Cafferty spoke about U.S.-China relations.
(Soundbite of TV show, "The Situation Room")
Mr. JACK CAFFERTY (CNN Commentator): I think our relationship with China has certainly changed. I think they're basically the same bunch of goons and thugs they've been for the last 50 years.
KUHN: Cafferty later explained that he was talking China's government, not its people. Beijing rejected the explanation.
Many of Rau's views echo government policy, but he insists that AntiCNN.com represents true grassroots opinion.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu recently said it was laughable to think that Beijing was inciting Internet users to criticize Western media.
Ms. JIANG YU (Spokesperson, Chinese Foreign Ministry): (Through translator) This isn't something the government can stir up, nor does it need to. Internet users did this of their accord. It was these Western media that provoked their righteous anger.
KUHN: Chinese critics say Rau and his Web site turn a blind eye to China's censorship of its own media. Rau admits that China has problems. Rau says he opposes Western media bias, not Western media.
Mr. JIN: (Foreign language spoken)
KUHN: We're not trying to set Chinese and Western people and Western media against each other or stir up conflict and anger, he says. What's important is to get both sides to think about things coolly and objectively. We want Westerners to correct their state of mind about China and its people.
China has never been in the world spotlight as it is now, and it appears uncomfortable with the increased scrutiny that brings.
Author and former government official Wu Jas Yung points out the Chinese have not forgotten the carving up of their nation by imperial powers during the 19th century. He likens today's China to post-World War I Germany, smarting from the punitive terms of the Treaty of Versailles.
Mr. WU JAS YUNG (Author): (Through translator) A nation that believes it has been oppressed and humiliated is primed for a backlash, and that's a problem. Nations such as Britain and France, which signed the Versailles treaty, should learn their historical lessons. China is perhaps the last great nation to have been deeply humiliated.
KUHN: Wu says that more perceived humiliation would fuel political radicalism and anti-foreign sentiment, and that would be bad news, both for the Olympics and for China's ongoing integration with the rest of the world.
Anthony Kuhn, NPR News, Beijing.
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