After Forbes Magazine named Chinese President Hu Jintao the most powerful person in the world this week, a China Daily article had some guesses as to why Forbes chose to unseat Barack Obama as the reigning number one in favor of Hu:
“Forbes magazine has named President Hu Jintao as the world’s most powerful person, a move that analysts say shows global acknowledgement of China’s contribution to the world’s economic recovery.”
“China’s peaceful rise on the world stage is also likely to have been a decisive factor.”
“Another significant factor in Hu’s ranking was China’s stable social development and its ability to overcome natural disasters in recent years. The effective measures taken by the government also earned credits for Hu.”
“Analysts said China’s burgeoning economy might have tipped the scales in Hu’s favor. They noted that China’s remarkable contribution to the world’s economy helped it gain a strong international reputation.”
During all these analysts’ analyses, it seems they forgot to analyze what Forbes Magazine itself actually said regarding why they awarded the number one spot to Hu:
“Unlike Western counterparts, Hu can divert rivers, build cities, jail dissidents and censor Internet without meddling from pesky bureaucrats, courts.”
The Chinese media’s coverage of the Forbes list marks a noticeable contrast from the coverage over the past few weeks of the Nobel Peace Prize when everyone involved from Liu Xiaobo himself, to the Nobel Committee, to the entire country of Norway were directly
attacked. The approach to the Forbes list shows the more traditional propaganda department approach: spin and repress.
Spin the event into something flattering to China while quoting some unnamed “analysts” or “experts”, then repress any information that disproves their assertions. Even with the internet, stories like this are usually easy to apply this approach to. Patriots and nationalists within China are all too willing to accept the new harmonious version of the story which casts China in a superior world position. They have no desire to see conflicting information, so unlike with the Nobel Prize, they won’t bother to seek it out.