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Chinese Media Slam Dutch Reporter and Broadcaster NOS After On-Air Incident

On Twitter, many saw the moment as an example of Chinese treatment of the press, while many on Weibo viewed the incident as an example of foreign media putting China in a bad light.

Manya Koetse

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The moment a Dutch journalist was dragged away by a Chinese security guard during a live broadcast made international headlines, triggering foreign criticism over media oppression in China. But Chinese media outlets and social media users criticize the Dutch reporters for refusing to cooperate with security and painting China in a negative light.

A Dutch reporter made international headlines this week after he was dragged away by security guards during a live news broadcast for NOS, the Dutch state broadcaster, about the Beijing Winter Olympics opening ceremony.

The incident happened on Friday, February 4th (link to video). Journalist Sjoerd den Daas was doing a live broadcast outside Beijing’s National Stadium for NOS (Dutch Broadcasting Foundation) covering the Olympics when he was pushed away from the camera by a local security volunteer.

The moment the guard steps up to Den Daas and his cameraman, he says: “Let’s move, brothers” (“咱们往前走哥儿们”). Den Daas then says: “Wait, I’m in the middle of a broadcast.” The guard continues to say: “You’re not allowed to stay in this spot,” and pulls Den Daas away. As the guard made it impossible for Den Daas to continue, the broadcaster cut away from the shot and returned to the studio anchor.

The NOS broadcaster later posted about the issue on Twitter, writing:

Our correspondent @sjoerddendaas was pulled away from the camera by security guards at 12.00 pm live in the NOS News Bulletin. Unfortunately, this is increasingly becoming a daily reality for journalists in China. He is fine and was able to finish his story a few minutes later.”

The editor-in-chief of NOS News, Marcel Gelauf, stated that the incident is “a painful example of the current state of press freedom in China. Don’t touch journalists.”

On Twitter, some suggested that the reporters were forcibly removed by Chinese officials because the background of the broadcast wasn’t “flattering enough.” Author Andy Ngo said that “the incident illustrates the tight control Beijing has on journalists.”

On February 5th, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) also responded1 to the incident, calling it an “isolated event” which “will not affect foreign media’s reporting at the Beijing Games.”

“Deliberately Provocative”

After the incident, various Chinese media condemned the reporter and the Dutch broadcaster. The nationalistic Chinese online media outlet Guancha News (观察者网) posted a video of the incident on Weibo, writing:

‘Look at the sweat on my head.’ Last night at 8 pm, when the entire world was following the opening ceremony of the Olympics, a Beijing security guard was working hard, politely asking a Dutch reporter who had entered a temporarily restricted area to leave. But this reporter not only failed to show his identity papers, but he was also disrespectful to the security staff and even made a “performance” all by himself. The Dutch news outlet NOS, for which the journalist works, also issued an online post smearing the Chinese security personnel for “interfering” with the journalist’s work. So, we must expose their faces!

In the Gengzhi Ge (耿直哥) column2, the Chinese-language state newspaper Global Times criticized the NOS for reiterating Western media clichés about Chinese interference with journalists when writing that these kinds of events are a “daily reality for journalists in China.”

They also said the Dutch media was being “deliberately provocative”3 by entering a “controlled area,” with the Dutch journalist and cameraman allegedly failing to show their ID when confronted by security staff and further “inflaming the situation.”

The Global Times claims that the intersection where the Dutch media was standing during their live broadcast was already marked as a limited access area since February 3rd, and was only accessible to vehicles and pedestrians with special documents for the opening ceremony.

Global Times writes that the area where the Dutch crew was filming was marked as a restricted access area.

A map marking the area where the Dutch reporter was standing during the incident as a temporarily controlled area.

When the Dutch media continued to report without showing proof that they were allowed to operate in this controlled area, the security staff reportedly went up to them and asked them to leave. The reporter then went on to do his live broadcast, which is the moment that went viral. As the guard tells the reporters that they need to move and tells them they can’t be in this spot, he also can be heard saying “Look at my sweaty head!” (“瞅我这一脑袋汗”), as the guard indeed seems to break out in a sweat and starts pulling the reporter away to get him out of the restricted area. Den Daas then can be heard saying: “What are you doing?!”

According to Gengzhi Ge, the Dutch NOS reporter and camera crew can only be blamed for this incident themselves by accessing an area they should not have accessed without the right papers, failing to show their ID, not properly communicating, not following security orders and not showing respect to the local guards.

The author also argues that the very fact that the NOS themselves tweeted that their reporter was fine and was able to finish the interview just minutes later shows that the security staff was not interfering with their work at all, concluding: “For some arrogant and ignorant Western media, isn’t it easier to slander and discredit others rather than admitting they are at fault themselves?”

Popular law blogger Han Dongyan (@韩东言), who has over 2.2 million followers on Weibo, called the Dutch reporter a “drama queen,” with other Weibo users referring to Den Daas as a ‘pengci‘ – a term that literally means ‘porcelain bumping’ and refers to people who pretend to be injured or hurt for their own benefit.

“They just used this as an excuse to make a fuss,” other Weibo commenters say, also writing: “They’re discrediting China by misrepresenting the facts.”

Although several Weibo users labeled the journalist as ‘Dutch trash’, there were also those who praised his Chinese speaking skills.

On February 5th, Sjoerd den Daas posted about the incident on his Twitter account. According to the Dutch reporter, he did follow police orders regarding the area where they were allowed to film. He claims that, just after going live, he was “forcefully pulled out of the picture without any warning” and that the man who dragged him away, a plainclothes man wearing a “Public Safety Volunteer” badge, did not identify himself.

Den Daas writes that it was not properly explained to him what they had done wrong. They were able to continue their interview from a parking lot around the corner.

He also adds: “In recent weeks, we, like several foreign colleagues, have been hindered or stopped several times by the police while reporting on subjects related to the Games. Therefore, it’s hard to see last night’s incident as an isolated incident, as the IOC claims, although such interference rarely happens live on broadcast.”

By Manya Koetse

With contributions by Miranda Barnes.

1Although the IOC spokesperson claimed they had been in touch with the NOS, the Dutch broadcaster said there had been no contact with the IOC at all.
2 Gengzhi Ge (耿直哥), meaning “Honest Brother,” is a Global Times column by Gao Lei (高雷, 1985).
3 “无理取闹” wú lǐ qǔ nào: “vexatious,” “to make trouble without reason.”

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Pax Politica

    February 8, 2022 at 3:40 am

    As an Asian, I am with the Chinese security guard. The western journalists aren’t only casting bad lights on themselves but on westerners in general. Turning the images of westerners in general from smart, honest and fair to one that is cunning, loud and selfish. He is in China yet he thought he was superior to the Chinese.

  2. Avatar

    Xexos

    February 9, 2022 at 7:59 pm

    Yes you are correct. Silly westerners put them in reeducation camp!!! Take away their freedom.

  3. Avatar

    He-Man vd Z

    February 9, 2022 at 9:12 pm

    I’m glad that I got to know this website and Manya, who is willing to provide a different perspective. I know this will not bring much traffic or visibility, because most of observations on this website don’t fit into the mainstream narrative or code. I have to say this is true journalism, adhering to the author’s own principle, rather than story telling. As a follower, I’ll be happy to see Manya becoming active on bilibili one day, where China’s young generation can get to know you.

  4. Avatar

    W

    March 2, 2022 at 1:22 am

    To XEXOS:Nah, Silly westerners won’t put them in reeducation camp or take away their freedom, westerners kill them directly in the Middle East and Africa,that is totally fine,isn’t it?

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China and Covid19

The End to Zero Covid: China’s New 10 Covid Rules Are Here

“Everyone is really happy but there is a black cloud heading our way.”

Manya Koetse

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Over the past few weeks, China’s Covid measures have seen gradual changes, and various places across China have eased local rules regarding nucleic acid testing and the accessibility of public transport and venues. Now, central authorities have announced more measures that basically end the ‘zero Covid’ policy as we knew it. The ‘ten new rules’ became top trending on Weibo.

Just a month ago, on November 11, Chinese central authorities released a set of twenty new rules to “further optimize” China’s approach to Covid.

At the time, Chinese media emphasized that the new rules did not mean that China was letting go of its dynamic Zero Covid policy. Now, another ten new rules have been introduced that do indicate that the country is clearly no longer sticking to its ‘zero Covid’ goals.

After a central meeting that took place on December 6, authorities released a 10-point plan addressing changes in Covid measures. National Health Commission spokesman Mi Feng (米锋) announced the measures during a live-streamed press conference of the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council (#国务院联防联控机制发布会#).

On Wednesday, several hashtags related to the new measures went trending on Chinese social media, including “Health Code” (#健康码#), over 450 million views), and “Ten New Rules” (#新十条#, over 440 million views).

 
These Are the 10 Changes:
 

1: Lockdown Changes
Risk areas should be assessed and divided according to science and it should be done precisely. We should no longer see the lockdown of an entire community or residential area; instead, it will be assessed by looking at household units, buildings, and apartment floors. The (temporary) closure of areas will no longer be allowed.

2: Testing Changes
The scope of nucleic acid testing was already limited in the previous adjusted rules, but will now be further limited. Instead of RT-PCR tests, rapid PCR tests will be used more often in accordance with local requirements. Nucleic acid testing will remain in place for high-risk positions and high-risk area personnel in accordance with relevant regulations, and some places including nursing homes, schools, and medical care institutions will still require negative tests, but negative nucleic acid test certificates and health code checks will no longer be necessary for traveling from place to place.

3: Quarantine Changes
People who tested positive but are asymptomatic or only show mild symptoms can isolate at home if they meet local requirements. Centralized isolation centers will still be in operation for more severe cases or those opting in for centralized quarantine. If nucleic acid tests are negative after the fifth day, the isolation period can end.

4: ‘High-Risk Area’ Changes
If no new cases have been detected for five consecutive days, local lockdowns should be lifted.

5: Medicine Availability Changes
Pharmacies should operate normally and cannot be arbitrarily closed. Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines for cough, fever, etc should not be restricted.

6: Vaccination Strategy Changes
The promotion of the Covid vaccination should be stepped up for Chinese seniors, especially in the 60-79 age group, with a clear focus on making sure they get all the vaccinations they need as quickly as possible. In order to boost the vaccination rates, temporary vaccination sites will need to be set up and they will need to be local incentives to get the seniors to vaccinate asap. This was actually also mentioned in the list of twenty optimized Covid measures in November (under rule 12).

7: Medical Classification Clarity
There should be clearer knowledge on the medical status of residents and whether elderly residents have any underlying medical issues and if they have been vaccinated.

8: Focus on the Normal Functioning of Society & Basic Medical Services
If areas are not classified as high-risk areas, people should be allowed to move around freely and have access to basic medical care, and there should be no restrictions on production, work, and business operations.

9: Strengthen Safety Procedures in Epidemic Situations
Buildings [in high-risk areas] cannot block fire exits, unit doors, or community gates under any circumstances. Community management departments should have effective modes of communication systems in place to contact local medical institutions in order to safeguard the medical needs of residents, including seniors living alone, children, pregnant women, and those with underlying conditions.

10: Improved Policies regarding Outbreaks at School Campuses
As also mentioned in the previous updated rules, on-campus epidemic control must be consistent, precise, and in accordance with science. Not only can there be no unnecessarily long lockdowns of campuses, but the risk areas within campuses should be more precisely defined, and normal teaching and living outside these areas should be able to continue as usual. Schools without any outbreaks should carry on normal offline teaching activities, and capus facilities such as supermarkets, cafeterias, libraries, etc. should be open.

 
Online Responses
 

One clear online response to China’s recent ‘optimized’ Covid measures is that people are buying a lot of medication, expecting to be infected with Covid soon. Some online stores had already sold out on the Traditional Chinese medicine Lianhua Qingwen (连花清瘟), a herbal pill by Yiling Pharmaceuticals which is used for the treatment of influenza as well as Covid.

Sold-out Lianhua Qingwen pills.

One popular Weibo blogger (@咖啡布偶猫) wrote: “I feel as if the propaganda has seen a sudden change in direction. During the first half of the year and the epidemic in Shanghai, everyone would get scared the moment you talked about a positive case, they wanted to fiercely chase it and thoroughly reach zero cases. Now they are propagating that we should not panic, that we should accept the reality and actively respond to it, as if it is nothing alarming. But we should still pay attention to those with underlying medical conditions, those with respiratory issues, asthma, and lung disease. If you haven’t bought cold medicine yet, do so. Right now, some places even have a limit on buying Lianhua Qingwen.”

During the December 7 press conference, Guo Yanhong (郭燕红), director of the National Health Commission’s health emergency division, emphasized that it is not necessary for people to stock up on medication in light of the announced eased Covid measures and that there are sufficient supplies (#卫健委提示没有必要囤积抢购药物#).

“After being sealed for three years, it’s all lifted in a morning, all the prices go up for Lianhua Qingwen, rapid antigen tests increase in price, and if your symptoms get serious you’re still not able to get help anywhere.”

Some jokingly suggest that after messing around for three years, the pandemic is only now really starting.

“Everyone is really happy now but there’s a black cloud coming our way, we will know in a month or so if it is going to be light drizzle or a heavy rainstorm.”

By Manya Koetse , with contributions by Miranda Barnes

 

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China and Covid19

Chinese Commentator Hu Xijin Expects to “Get Covid Within a Month” (and Why It Matters)

This Hu Xijin commentary can be seen as part of a wider trend of normalizing Covid in the Chinese online media sphere.

Manya Koetse

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Hu Xijin (胡锡进), the Beijing-based retired editor-in-chief of the state-run Global Times, recently published a post on the Chinese social media platform Weibo about him getting mentally ready to be infected with Covid-19 soon.

The former journalist Hu, whose posts and statements often go trending and influence public opinion, also made a few other noteworthy comments.

On Sunday (Dec 4), Hu posted: “Over the past week, China has essentially ended widespread lockdowns, with places like Beijing and others beginning to allow home quarantine for many positive individuals, while reducing the scope of nucleic acid testing. These are amazing changes.”

Four weeks ago, right before China introduced its twenty new Covid measures, Hu already argued that strict lockdowns are no longer sustainable and that China should aim for a more relaxed and local approach (which is exactly what happened).

Now, Hu Xijin says that he is “mentally preparing to be infected with Covid within the coming month” (“做好了在一个月之内被感染上的思想准备”), further writing:

In order for young people to have a colorful young era, in order to save the livelihood of so many service industry workers, in order for people from all walks of life to avoid seeing their wages cut, in order for so many companies to get out of their predicaments, this 62-year-old ‘Old Hu’ is willing to participate in the risk of getting [a virus that] degenerated to only 2.5 per 10,000 rate of getting seriously ill.”

Hu’s post was published on December 2nd in the context of Hu Says, a regular video column by Hu Xijin.

A few months ago, such a comment coming from such a big account would have been unthinkable.

In May of this year, those who tested positive still complained about suffering from stigmatization in society.

But Hu’s comments come at a time when there are more discussions about getting Covid and sharing the experiences of having Covid.

In the second week of November, shortly after Chinese authorities launched their updated Covid rules, the hashtag “What Is It Like to Catch Covid-19?” (#感染新冠是什么体验#) already went trending on Weibo, along with other hashtags informing Chinese netizens about what it’s like to get Covid – a virus that so many in China never experienced first hand.

Since Hu Xijin (1960) ended his career as the editor-in-chief of Global Times in 2021, his role as a political commentator has arguably become even more important and more visible on Weibo than before, especially in China’s challenging Covid times of 2021.

Some find him overly nationalistic, for others he is not nationalistic enough; there are those who find him reasonable, and then some say he is repetitive and just dancing to the tune of Party propaganda. But then there have also been some discussions – in light of Pelosi’s controversial Taiwan visit – about Hu misleading public opinion by not matching the official stance.

Whichever it is, some things are certain: Hu has some 25 million followers on Weibo, and he is often the first major media account that is allowed to discuss in detail some major sensitive social topics, even if these online discussions are otherwise being tightly controlled (think of the Tangshan BBQ Restaurant incident, the future of zero Covid, the Urumqi fire, and the 11.24 protests across China.)

Hu’s comments about ‘catching Covid soon’ can be seen as part of a wider trend of normalizing Covid in the Chinese online media sphere, preparing people to face a virus they are still unfamiliar with since ‘zero Covid’ has always been the main goal.

On December 3, Hu further clarified his comments about preparing to getting Covid. He explained he expects to catch the virus because he is active in the media environment, through which he unavoidably is in touch with many different people. He also promised that if he might get infected, he would share his Covid experience with all of his readers.

As the idea of catching Covid is becoming more normalized (there are more and more trending hashtags informing what to expect after getting Covid, e.g. #新冠发病7天内身体会发生什么变化#), people are also exchanging non-scientifical advice on how to prevent catching Covid, such as drinking licorice ginger soup, holding Sichuan peppercorns inside your mouth when going out, or getting silicon covers for the drains in the bathroom to prevent the virus coming through via neighboring apartments.

Some express their worries about catching the virus. “I’m really scared. I’ve already replaced all of my masks with K95 ones,” one Weibo user wrote: “My immune system has been weak since I was little, and I have allergies. I have the feeling that if I get infected I might lose half my life, if I don’t die (..) I’m in a state of panic.”

Even though China is still far from ‘opening up’, some people are already preparing to ‘live together with the virus,’ reminding others that getting vaccinated, keeping social distance, and washing hands are all measures that will help in preventing getting Covid.

“I am worried about getting Covid but I also want to open up,” some on Weibo said.

“As much as I wanted it all to end, this feels abrupt,” one social media user from Inner Mongolia wrote: “It won’t be the same as before. The thorough ‘zero Covid’ [policy] has gone. The country’s protection of our health has gone up to this point. I hope everyone can now take care in prevention themselves, and protect themselves and their families. I hope the epidemic situation will end soon, that the world will be ok, and that we can have our freedom.”

Meanwhile, Hu Xijin informed netizens on Saturday that he had some milk, boiled eggs, pastry and pickled mustard greens for breakfast. While working on his condition and nutrition, he says that if his Covid positive time comes, he will not get any VIP treatment. If allowed, he’ll either recover from home or go to a centralized Covid location.

He will just have to wait and see what happens, just as millions of other Chinese citizens are waiting to see what this winter is going to bring.

By Manya Koetse , with contributions by Miranda Barnes

The featured images are all images that went viral recently in light of China opening up (including nucleic acid testing booths being taken away).

 

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