It’s not just China’s government that’s ticked over CNN commentator Jack Cafferty‘s April 9 on-air remark that described Chinese people as “goons and thugs.”
While multiple lawsuits are reportedly being filed against the news net in both Beijing and New York (the latter seeking $1.3 billion, $1 for every Chinese citizen) ordinary Chinese had already taken matters into their own hands with some high-tech responses.
A week after Cafferty’s comments, MSN China hit on the idea of its members adding “I heart China” icons to their instant messenger identities. Within two days some 2 million users had adopted the virtual bumper stickers. By April 18 the total had reached 5 million, with other derivatives, such as ones with a heart for China and a broken heart for CNN, following quickly.
While the icon effort is a peaceful one, others went further. Several pages of CNN’s website in China were rendered unavailable, and the finger of suspicion, for once, pointed not at government censorship but to Chinese hackers.
The native outrage against CNN is also curious since the vast majority of Chinese TV viewers don’t have access to the channel; net is supposedly only available in “foreigner compounds” and top-rated hotels.
Chinese media, though, were quick to accuse CNN and other channels of bias. They’ve aired news footage purporting to prove that CNN framed its Tibet video in ways that only show Chinese police in action and not the images of monks smashing property.
CNN’s problems, though, pale compared with those of French supermarket chain Carrefour, which has a large presence in Chinese cities. Outraged by images of French protesters disrupting the Paris stage of the Olympic torch relay, Chinese people have lit bonfires outside Carrefour stores and called for a boycott of French goods.