China Channels Gatsby, Yemen Asks 'What Violence?'

It's time for our regular roundup of propaganda from around the world

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Authoritarian regimes dream through propaganda and so, to see what they're fantasizing about, we regularly check in on what state-controlled media outlets have been churning out

China: We must learn from Jay Gatsby

Chinese state-run news outlets often publish articles that chronicle America's decline and explore what a rising China can learn from it. A case in point is a Global Times column yesterday that explained how Americans assumed too much debt during the economic booms that preceded the 1929 stock market crash and the 2008 financial crisis. The lesson? "The growing Chinese middle class must not excessively borrow money," writes the author, a student at the Hong Kong International School. Chinese people, the author adds, can learn a lot from that famous tale of American overindulgence, The Great Gatsby:

American literature also warns that people should not reach too far. In F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, the main character, bootlegger Jay Gatsby desires everything. He wants it all from personal wealth to cars, and from mansions to the girl he loved and lost. Gatsby's goals change from reality to fantasy, and he forgets that certain things cannot be bought. As a result, when he dies, no one comes to his funeral.

Will the U.S. suffer Gatsby's fate? The author doesn't go there, at least not explicitly.

Yemen: Violence, What Violence?

While Syria's state-run news agency has covered violent clashes in the country rather rigorously but blamed them on "armed gangs" rather than brutal security forces, the Yemen News Agency (SABA) has taken a different tack: pretend the unrest isn't happening. Earlier this month we noted how SABA covered small pro-government rallies but somehow overlooked the million anti-government protesters who took to the streets one Friday. Today, as army defectors and protesters clash with government troops in Yemen's worst violence since March, SABA is covering President Ali Abdullah Saleh's sit-down with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah (one article yesterday did mention "militias" attacking "anti-riot forces" and throwing "molotov bombs"). Just compare SABA's homepage right now to Al Jazeera's:

It's all smiles and doves in Syria

The Syrian Arab News Agency is apt to find evidence of national unity, successful reform, and regime support in just about anything--be it long pro-regime flags or long pro-reform tables. Yesterday the evidence came in the form of an art exhibit entitled, "Photo and Word for Syria," which, according to SANA, showed the "Syrian people's unity and their efforts to foil the fabricated stories of the misleading media campaigns" (not surprisingly, the group's Facebook page has "liked" many pro-Assad Facebook pages). Here are some of the installations showing the "reality of Syrian people's feelings."

Uzbek media now free enough to discuss at conferences

According to the BBC, the Uzbek government keeps a tight grip on the media despite constitutional guarantees of press freedom. So it was surprising to see the Uzbekistan National News Agency publish an article on Friday touting the increasing "role of media" in the country and recent reforms in "freedom [of] expression." What proof did UzA provide? A data point that state-run news outlets often trot out to spotlight reform: discussion at a conference. At this particular meeting on information and communication technologies, participants "noted that under the leadership of President Islam Karimov, in Uzbekistan, a great attention is paid to guarantee ... freedom of access to information and a comprehensive public awareness about the activities of state agencies," the state-run news agency reported. If it was said at a conference, it must be true.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.