Thursday, January 22, 2009

Censored In Chinese...

...But Not In English

President Obama's inauguration speech was censored on Chinese TV. There’s a video on YouTube (around 0.16s) showing how after the translator said “communism” in Chinese, the audio faded out. CCTV then showed an anchor asking an analyst, clearly caught off guard, about the economic challenges that President Obama faces.

U.S. President Barack Obama's inauguration speech has a little twist in translations available on some Chinese websites where his references to communism and dissent have been cut.

"Recall that earlier generations faced down communism and fascism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions," Obama said in his 18-minute inauguration address on Tuesday.
"To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."

In the translations available on top Chinese portals Sina, Sohu, the word "communism" is omitted and the paragraph on dissent was gone.

The full speech appeared on the website of Phoenix TV, a Hong Kong-based station that is branding its website as a source for news, and in English on the China Daily state newspaper website.

When asked about the censorship, one television official tried to downplay the cutaway as a normal break in programming while an editor with the China Daily newspaper's Web site said staff who censored online versions of the speech likely did so because they were "duty-bound to protect the country's interests." (?!)

And to end this note… here’s the front page of Xiamen Economic Daily

So subtle

The headline reads: "White House, Dark Horse" (白宫黑马).

The headline puns on new president's last name and race: the last syllable of the Chinese transliteration of Obama is "马" which means horse, and the "black" obviously refers to his skin color.

"黑马" ("literally black horse") means the same as the English expression "dark horse". It may be coincidence, but the "dark horse" headline is quite telling about the general response of the Chinese public to Obama's seemingly surprising ascendancy.