Beijing sting

By JAMES PARKER  |  August 8, 2008

A word or two about foreign journalists. The Westerner is suggestible, sensation-based, without discipline: his mind is a rider-less horse. But do not think that he can be easily manipulated! For he is also suspicious, like a beast. He lacks the Chinese citizen’s suave and pragmatic attitude toward misinformation — regarding it indeed not as an adjunct to effective government, but rather as a trespass upon his right to have an opinion about everything. You are advised therefore against excessive “spin.” Much better is diversion: do not deny the journalist his petty ration of fact, but immediately draw his attention to something else, something that reflects more properly the glory of our Republic!

If, for example, he asks what will happen when the locusts currently ravaging the grasslands of Inner Mongolia run out of grass and start moving toward Beijing, point out in an unflustered manner that every cab driver in the city now speaks perfect English and can, moreover, recite the entire King James Bible from memory! Or again, should he press you upon the rumor that a single portion of our succulent factory-farmed chicken is enough to make an athlete fail his steroids test, remark casually that Beijing’s new anti-spitting ordinance has produced a dramatic reduction in noise pollution. You will discover how quickly the Western mind is paralyzed by a non sequitur!

A final note: in the event of total systemic, cultural, and ecological breakdown (you will hear the sirens), you are invited to the newly reinforced Tower of Table Tennis in the Fangzhuang district. Light refreshment will be served on the 73rd floor, where our sleek and amphibious Olympic water-polo team will perform scenes from Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro while beneath us the city smothers in pollution, burns with insurrection, and suffers the predation of insects. Only the strong will survive — and we have their medals prepared!

Our best wishes, esteemed news-bearer. Good luck. Obey. Show initiative only where appropriate. And don’t miss your deadlines.

James Parker, who once pole-vaulted the Great Wall, can be reached

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