Why Quotes from the Chinese are So Odd

NPR’s coverage of China is really incredible.  I mean, they had Rob Gifford there for years, going into all these noooks and crannies and uncovering all of these really wonderful stories.  Now, they have lots of people with great voices reporting from China, like Luisa Lim (and Gifford is their London bureau chief).

But, there is one thing I always notice when listening to these stories: the way people in China talk is so blunt.  It’s not the way that Americans speak when being interviewed.  Check out this story – one of the people interviewed says, “I was furious, and I said to the police, ‘I think Wen is a mafia boss, because he has suppressed my case.’ But now we know he really was a mafia boss.”

Who talks like that?  There’s no “messaging”, no “talking points.”  Just raw information and emotion.

I wonder if this has something to do with the history of free speech in China.  Since newspapers edit and massage anything that is published, there is no need to censor yourself – someone else will do it for you.

And, I wonder if this will change as the internet drives access to information in China.