For the Global Thinker

Friday, May 11, 2012


Why you shouldn't believe everything you read about China. Hint: not even the journalists really know what’s going on.

BY GEOFF DYER | MAY 10, 2012

When I reported in China from 2005 to 2011 it was remarkable how little the foreign correspondent community -- myself included -- really knew about what was going on in the top ranks of the Communist Party.  

Ministers and agency heads occasionally talk to the foreign press; senior leaders almost never do. Of the nine members of the Politburo Standing Committee, the governing body that runs China, only Premier Wen Jiabao answers questions with any regularity at press conferences (he holds one every year); he's also pretty much the only figure who has given interviews with foreign media. But when the Financial Times spoke with him in London in 2009, there were 15 other ministers and senior officials in the room, sitting in rows of chairs facing Wen. It was never clear if they were there to support or to monitor him.

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