CBS: China Gaining Prosperity ‘The Communist Way’

Julie Chen and Barry Petersen, CBS On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen introduced a segment on China hosting the Olympics: "Well, the Olympic games are more than a chance for the world's athletes to excel, they also give the host nation an opportunity to shine. For China and it's 1.3 billion people, the Beijing games are feeding a groundswell of pride." Chen then went to correspondent Barry Petersen who declared: "From designer clothes to new cars, China is getting rich. Democracies once bragged that theirs was the only way to economic success. China is doing it the communist way."

Petersen began his report by observing: "Well, China wants to throw a successful Olympics party and so far they're doing just fine. With plenty of enthusiasm spreading from Beijing pretty much around the world." Of course that ignored the heavy pollution in Beijing, constant protests, President Bush’s criticism of China’s human rights record, and the fatal stabbing of the father-in-law of a U.S. coach. Petersen went on to describe how: "Beijing has the welcome banners out to a half million visitors. More foreigners at one time than the country has seen since the Mongol invasion a thousand years ago." So Olympic visitors are like barbarian hordes?

One such foreign visitor was an American tourist who remarked: "I think the thing that really struck me more than anything is just how vast the city is, you know. Our big cities, New York and L.A. and Atlanta, you know, they pale in comparison." It was at that point that Petersen spoke of the Chinese gaining economic prosperity "the Communist way." A clip was also played of one Chinese citizen explaining: "The younger generation are being channeled. Their energy has been channeled into making money, getting rich."

Petersen did make brief mention of Chinese government repression: "Rich, but not free. Religious activist Qua Wei Chi told us last week the police warned him to remain quiet or he might disappear. Sunday, on his way to the church that President Bush attended, he was arrested." However, Petersen followed that one sentence by going on to tout poll numbers suggesting that the Chinese people are happier than Americans: "And here are some numbers that are not about gold medals. An American polling company asked Americans and Chinese what they thought about the direction of their country. About 23% of Americans said they were satisfied, but an astonishing 86% of Chinese said they're happy with where their country is going. Julie." Chen replied: "Wow, that's quite a number." The same poll was cited by Matt Lauer on NBC’s August 5 Today.

Chen concluded the segment by bragging about how well CBS was covering the games: "Well, we take pride in the great job our team is doing covering the games. And to read their own accounts of their experiences, visit our website at earlyshow.cbsnews.com."

Here is the full transcript of the segment:

8:07AM SEGMENT:

JULIE CHEN: Well, the Olympic games are more than a chance for the world's athletes to excel, they also give the host nation an opportunity to shine. For China and it's 1.3 billion people, the Beijing games are feeding a groundswell of pride. CBS News correspondent Barry Petersen is in Beijing with the story. Good morning to you, Barry.

BARRY PETERSEN: Good morning, Julie. Well, China wants to throw a successful Olympics party and so far they're doing just fine. With plenty of enthusiasm spreading from Beijing pretty much around the world. The wow factor started with that $100 million opening ceremony. And Beijing has the welcome banners out to a half million visitors. More foreigners at one time than the country has seen since the Mongol invasion a thousand years ago. And $40 billion spent on Beijing is impressing first-time American visitors.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I think the thing that really struck me more than anything is just how vast the city is, you know. Our big cities, New York and L.A. and Atlanta, you know, they pale in comparison.

PETERSEN: From designer clothes to new cars, China is getting rich. Democracies once bragged that theirs was the only way to economic success. China is doing it the communist way.

[No Audio, Footage of Tiananmen Square protests]

Petersen: Today, the ambitions of most students are not about changing their country, but changing their lives.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The younger generation are being channeled. Their energy has been channeled into making money, getting rich.

PETERSEN: Rich, but not free. Religious activist Qua Wei Chi told us last week the police warned him to remain quiet or he might disappear. Sunday, on his way to the church that President Bush attended, he was arrested. As for the games, China has one ambition, win more gold than its athletic and super power arch rival, the United States. And here are some numbers that are not about gold medals. An American polling company asked Americans and Chinese what they thought about the direction of their country. About 23% of Americans said they were satisfied, but an astonishing 86% of Chinese said they're happy with where their country is going. Julie.

CHEN: Wow, that's quite a number. Barry Petersen in Beijing for us. Thanks, Barry. Well, we take pride in the great job our team is doing covering the games. And to read their own accounts of their experiences, visit our website at earlyshow.cbsnews.com.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC