Since coming to China, I've been well shielded from Chinese newspapers by my illiteracy. Today, though, I went to a western restaurant and they gave me the official paper to read in English while I waited for my food.
The good news is that the articles were written (or translated) by native English speakers. The bad news is pretty much everything else. I had heard of propaganda, but I never really knew what it looked like. Reading the front page, though, taught me as much as I want to learn. All the headlines that had to do with China were positive ("Grain Supply is Sufficient to Keep Costs Down"), and even the headlines that would normally be negative had a positive slant to them ("Gang Trials Evidence of Major Crackdown on Corruption"). Anything related to a different country was negative.
I saw that there was an article about official Chinese policy on visas. This is something that I, as someone studying abroad, am very interested in. I've heard recently that with the Olympics coming to China, they've stopped issuing multiple-entry visas and have made it really difficult to get even a single-entry visa unless you can find a school or job to back you up. The article was about a press conference that denied this (since that would make China look bad), then proceeded to redefine the situation with more positive words.
Since I'm an English major studying Chinese, I'd like to practice this new form of writing, gleaning all the technique I could from that article. If China Daily doesn't work out, I can always try working for the Onion.
USAC Students "Following Global Practices"
In a statement issued today, the rumor that beginning tomorrow May 9th University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC) students studying in Chengdu will leave was denied. "USAC students are simply seeking the best paths for themselves as this summer approaches," one representative said. Citizens are reminded that this approach is "just for a period of time."
"What will not change is USAC's continued support for students learning Chinese, their instruction of available students, and the safety of said students."
This rumor has been spreading due to information from the participants' mothers. "I'm definitely going to keep studying Chinese," Sol Lee said as he happened to pack a suitcase. "And I think Chengdu is a good place to study."
The statement noted that students are modeling their habits after previous USAC groups. It isn't that students will leave Chengdu; in fact, more students will arrive in the summer. "I hope the kid living in my bedroom this summer hates the bed as much as I have," said Will Penman, the unbiased author of this article, showing much enthusiasm to have common experiences with more students.
Students point out that they have been in Chengdu for several months, much longer than some other programs.
There have been reports that students will spontaneously leave beginning May 9th for various academic reasons. "Summer school", "job", "a break from Chinese" have all been cited.