Libya Protesters Speak Out & Sign Off... in Chinese

China's CCTV has been bringing news of the rebellion against Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi to Chinese TV-watchers, though they've been accused of distorting the protesters' message with commentary slanted against NATO and the Libyan rebel coalition.

A typical example involves video and still images of a group of anti-Gaddafi protesters holding up a banner (left) that reads “Vive Le France”. Now you know and I know that this is a popular pro-French statement: “Long Live France”, in English.

China's CCTV (China Central Television) evidently did not see things this way, or at they chose not to do so. Instead, commentators at the network's Channel 4 added voiceover commentary to the image stating it illustrated the Libyan people protesting so-called bombing of Benghazi by NATO jets. CCTV added the leading and rhetorical question, “Can such an outcry be heard?”

Now when you're the major state television broadcaster in mainland China with more than one billion viewers, you have the power to influence a hefty segment of the public by spinning news features to conform to the official party line – in this case, anti-revolutionary in general and anti-NATO in particular.

Unfortunately for CCTV, a small but vociferous portion of the public isn't buying what they're selling, and have no qualms about calling out CCTV on their biased reporting. Even worse (for CCTV, that is), some of the Libyan protesters have gotten wind of CCTV's putting words in their mouths and have taken matters into their own hands in order to correct any misreading of their intent.

The result? Observe the astonishing banner at the head of this article, neatly and carefully executed in Chinese characters. The message: “Muammar Gaddafi is a liar”. That's about as plain, straightforward and unspinnable as it gets. It seems Libya's media-savvy protesters are taking a page from their Egyptian counterparts, one of whom (above) holds a sign reading “Depart!” in Chinese.

Naturally, China's bold and growing legion of netizens has wasted no time heaping scorn on CCTV. “Today the Libyan people are worried, and directly use Chinese to write their slogan. Let's see you lie now!,” wrote one SINA microblogger. “You make life difficult for the Libyan people, who are already busy with the chaos in their country, and now have to learn Chinese.” All for a good cause, young netizen, all for a good cause. (via 21CB and Language Log, and Aljazeera)