The Bo Xilai trial began [on Thursday] in Jinan. Initially, I thought they would broadcast it live, but those hopes were to be dashed. Neither CCTV nor China Central Radio carried the trial live.
Then, a miracle happened. Xinhuanet published a story [on Friday] with the headline "The live broadcast of the Bo trial shows a high level of confidence from China's new leadership."
This is a new word, this "live broadcast of a trial"! Of course, you won't find a reference to it in the encyclopedias of Britain, France, Germany, Japan or Russia. So sad. There's not even a place for it in the Chinese dictionary with Chinese characteristics.
So here are my clumsy and tentative suggestions for entries for this unprecedented new noun:
Live broadcast of a trial. n;
1. A new form of news created by the People's Republic of China under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party central committee. This is an example of unusually creative linguistic innovation. In a
Chinese context it can easily be confused with a 100 percent live broadcast of a trial, causing the public to feel that a trial has qualified as having been broadcast live. But there are four significant differences between the two concepts:
(i) Live broadcasting is an activity that can be carried out by any legitimate news media. "The live broadcast of a trial," on the other hand, carries with it an absolute power of monopoly, meaning that all those involved in producing it and researching it are designated by the authorities, and that other media or newsgatherers have no right to intervene.
(ii) The content of a live broadcast may be intact, whereas the content produced by "live broadcast of a trial" most certainly doesn't include the whole process of the trial by means of audio recordings or video, only written records and photographs which have undergone a process of selection and treatment.
(iii) The first time a live broadcast takes place, it is fully synchronized with events, whereas the "live broadcast of a trial" can't be synchronized with events, but inevitably lags behind events as they occur.
(iv) Less information is provided to an audience using "live broadcast of a trial" than by live broadcast. While the aim of a live broadcast is to provide audiences with faster and more comprehensive information from which to make their own judgments, the aim of the "live broadcast of a trial" is to provide the audience with a taste of events which has been premasticated for them by the authorities, thus more easily achieving a unified ideological purpose. The production costs of a "live broadcast of a trial" are clearly higher than those of a live broadcast, but it should be taken into consideration that political gains can't be measured in purely economic terms.
The headline of the Xinhua article clinches the point: "The live broadcast of the Bo trial shows a high level of confidence from China's new leadership."
Now, if this was a true live broadcast, I would indeed believe that it reflected a high level of confidence from the new leadership. But a new problem has emerged. The genuine live broadcast has now been replaced by its counterfeit copy, the "live broadcast of a trial." Who can say what that shows us?
Translated by Luisetta Mudie.
Bao Tong, political aide to the late ousted premier Zhao Ziyang, is currently under house arrest at his home in Beijing.