By Pál Nyiri On the website of RNW (Radio Netherlands Worldwide), Sigrid Deters writes that Chinese media in the Netherlands, except the Chinese website of the RNW itself, are “not free from censorship.” She sees avoiding the coverage of political issues such as the Dalai Lama’s visit or the riots in Xinjiang, or reporting on them one-sidedly, as evidence of censorship, although she does not explain who does the censoring and why. Editors of the Chinese papers and TV stations she interviewed denied censorship and said instead that their outlets reflected the opinions of the “community” or that it was better to stay away from controversy. An interesting exception was GogoDutch.nl (荷乐网), a popular website that has registered in China in order to avoid being blocked, and therefore, as its founder said, had to comply with Chinese regulations about content filtering.
The shift in overseas Chinese media toward a single discourse of China is a trend I have also noticed, but I am not sure if “censorship” is the right explanation for what is happening. Of course, the market-state-media nexus does have some impact; I can imagine that Chinese entrepreneurs who seek to maintain good standing with the embassy would not be keen to advertise in “rebellious” newspapers.
But I suspect that the state-endorsed discourse of Chineseness does enjoy popular support. Deters quotes the editor-in-chief of the Netherlands-based Chinese Radio and TV as saying, ”If you’re too critical you lose the Chinese public – the target group you’re aiming at.” To what extent is this target group now defined by new migrants from the mainland, such as those students and graduates who are members of the embassy-created Association of Chinese Students and Scholars, according to whose charter the first duty of every member is to “ardently love the Fatherland, protect the Fatherland’s honour and national dignity” (热爱祖国，维护祖国荣誉和民族尊严)? To what extent does it continue to be shaped by an older generation of migrants largely active in catering, who may well feel proud about the new, assertive discourse of global Chineseness? How do second-generation Dutch Chinese relate to this discursive hegemony?
Pal Nyiri is Professor of Global History from an Anthropological Perspective at the VU University. In earlier contributions for this blog, he answered a few questions about his freshly published book on Chinese migration, and wrote about Uyghur leader Rebiya Kadeer’s lecture at the VU, about two more books of his hand, on Cultural Mobility and Seeing Culture Everywhere, about his inaugural lecture on China’s foreign concessions, about the AAA, and about the uses of cultural defense in court. The current article also appeared on his weblog.