Guangdong’s saucy Southern Metropolis Daily, the lone Chinese newspaper to break news in late February of AIDS activist Gao Yaojie’s (高耀洁) trip to the United States to receive the Vital Voices Global Women’s Leadership Award, threw up chalk again today with a “line-ball” cover-story on Gao Yaojie’s face-to-face meeting with Senator Hillary Clinton. [BELOW: Front page of today’s Southern Metropolis Daily, with prominent photo of Hillary Clinton and Gao Yaojie/PDF: Page A16 interview with Gao Yaojie about meeting with Clinton.]
CMP noted on February 26 that a Southern Metropolis Daily editorial had mentioned Gao Yaojie’s trip to Beijing in preparation for her departure for the United States, and had offered praise for top officials who visited Gao in her Beijing hotel room. The editorial had not, however, mentioned a letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao from Hillary Clinton, a New York senator and 2008 presidential candidate, that some have argued was instrumental in securing Gao Yaojie’s release from house arrest in Hebei Province and enabling her U.S. trip. To have emphasized this point would have been dangerous for any newspaper, suggesting that pressure from a U.S. politician had influenced high-level decision making.
Nevertheless, the Southern Metropolis Daily interview with Gao Yaojie, which occupies the whole of page 16 today, does quote Gao as mentioning Clinton’s letter in the following exchange:
Reporter: Did you express your thanks to her?
Gao Yaojie: I said it right from the very beginning. I said, Thank you for your letter, without which I could not have come here. We talked for half an hour, and she led me out personally.
The bold coverage today on Hillary Clinton and Gao Yaojie shows Southern Metropolis Daily‘s strong professional spirit in making full use of incremental political space available for treatment of a sensitive domestic issue — an opportunity afforded in part by Gao Yaojie’s visit in Beijing with deputy health minister Wang Longde (王陇德) and Hao Yang (郝阳), deputy director of epidemic disease control at the Ministry of Health.
The Gao Yaojie interview was accompanied by a strong page 2 editorial called, “Gao Yaojie: the glory goes to those who speak the truth“.
“Gao Yaojie: the glory goes to those who speak the truth” (Chinese), Southern Metropolis Daily, March 20, 2007
“Group Honors Doctor Who Exposed China AIDS Scandal“, Washington Post, March 14, 2007
“AIDS Doctor Fears Return to China“, Radio Free Asia, March 15, 2007
[Posted by David Bandurski, March 20, 2007, 4:25pm]