I keep being re-surprised...

... at how tin-eared and antique the Chinese propaganda apparatus is, compared with the way most other things seem and feel in the country.

Today's illustration: front page of China Daily, official voice to the outside world. Story at top left, about lighting of Olympic flame, contains not one word about protesters who disrupted the ceremony in Greece. (Local Chinese TV coverage also cut away at that instant.) Story at top right, today's update on the Tibet saga, is about the unified outrage of China's web population over Western news distortions. Eg,

"A video clip titled 'Tibet was, is, and always will be part of China' became an instant hit after it was posted on YouTube on March 15. [Hmmm. As I remembered it, the Great Firewall was blocking YouTube around that time.]... The 7-minute clip then lists indisputable historical facts to prove that Tibet has long been an inalienable part of China."


As an indication of what the majority of Chinese people have been taught about the Tibet issue, the story is indeed useful. What is weird is its attempt to sell the "if we don't mention it, it didn't happen" version of reality to outside, English-language readers who have other sources of information on the topic.

Meanwhile, a microscopic story at the very bottom of the front page (picture after jump), right next to the Hooters-Beijing ad, notes that shares on the Shanghai Stock Exchange fell by 4.49% yesterday. To be fair, it is linked to a longer story inside.
Maybe this doesn't seem surprising, if what you know of China from the outside is mainly based on similar rigid expressions from official spokesmen. But I find that in daily life here, people don't generally take such a stilted view of reality (though they are of course very proud of their country and largely of one mind about Tibet and Taiwan). That the government self-defeatingly sticks with it when dealing with outsiders is a puzzlement.

Of course it's possible they've been watching recent White House press conferences.