RFA in the News (April 2008)



April 30 “U.S.-funded radio makes waves in China --- Tibet scoops rekindle ill will over system; news or propaganda?”

The earliest reports of unrest in Tibet last month didn't come from a major newspaper, wire service or TV station. They came from a U.S.-funded shortwave radio broadcaster that advises listeners to get around Chinese signal jamming with tinfoil, plywood and rubber bands.

With a current annual budget of $34 million from the U.S. Congress, Washington-based Radio Free Asia broadcasts news about Asia across the region in nine languages, including Mandarin, Tibetan and Uighur, a Turkic language used in China's Xinjiang province.

On April 21, AFP picked up RFA’s Tiananmen story on Asian Lives and wrote of Han Dongfang’s ongoing labor for Chinese workers’ rights, “In 1997, Han started what was to become, after prison, what he describes as the second defining part of his life, a program on Radio Free Asia through which he talks to workers across China about the problems they face in the workplace.”

RFA's Burmese service also secured numerous mentions as a result of the U.S. First Lady's May 5 speech, in which she noted the critical role played by RFA and VOA in bringing news of the devastating cyclone Nargis to the people of Burma. In other areas, RFA maintained its consistent, strong presence in major media pickups worldwide.

Grace Wang

Reuters picked up the exclusive RFA- Mandarin story and accompanying exclusive interview on Grace Wang on April 21 in which she, a Han Chinese, tried to mediate in a small demonstration between pro-Tibet and pro-China students at Duke University, where she is an undergraduate.

“In a separate report on U.S. government- supported Radio Free Asia, Wang said that a letter supposedly written by her father apologizing for her actions was fake.” "I'm sure. They were very clear about that. They also said they knew I would never do anything to betray my country," Wang was quoted as saying.

Video footage of her RFA Cantonese interview, taking place while she is interacting online with her parents in hiding, was made available in four parts on YouTube. The videos received more than 16,000 views in two weeks, and prompted one of the liveliest debates about Chinese nationalism RFA has ever witnessed. More than 250 comments were posted, in Chinese, on the YouTube videos.

Additionally BBC Monitoring picked up the RFA story of increasing tourism in North Korea on April 13th, SOUTH KOREAN TOURISM TO NORTH "STILL POPULAR" DESPITE RISING TENSIONS Seoul (Yonhap) report in English by South Korean news agency Yonhap - Sightseeing in North Korea, one of the world's most isolated communist states, isstill popular among foreigners despite rising tensions over the North's nuclear ambitions and the election of the conservative Lee Myung-bak [Yi Myo'ng-pak] administration in the South, a US-based radio

station said Sunday. Over 30 tourists from Britain, France and Germany will fly to Pyongyang this week for package tours of North Korea for four to six days organized on the 100th birthday of the North's late leader Kim Il Sung [Kim Il-so'ng], Radio Free Asia (RFA) said, quoting a spokesman for Koryo Tour, a tour agency based in Beijing.

On April 19, THE KOREA HERALD picked up an RFA report as they covered Secretary of State Condoleeza’s Rice’s remarks in light of observations that Washington has decided to flexibly deal with North Korea's declaration of its nuclear programs and the matter of verification. …In related news, North Korea's military, in a rare move, met visiting U.S. officials and asked for "political incentives" as the first step towards normalizing relations with the United States, according to Radio Free Asia.