The Screaming Pen

Providing Global Insight, Context, and Perspective

The China Counter

A Survey of Media Portrayal of America in the Middle Kingdom

People’s Daily, From May 9th, 2006
Favorable: 14
Unfavorable: 10
Neutral: 53

China View, From May 9th, 2006
Favorable: 4
Unfavorable: 3
Neutral: 9

During Chinese President Hu Jintao’s April 2006 tour of Seattle, Washington, D.C., and New Jersey, Chinese media coverage of the trip was overwhelmingly favorable, and not only of Hu himself but of the United States in general. This stood in stark contrast to the oft-perpetuated image of a belligerent, power-hungry America inimical to the P.R.C.’s interests. Indeed, beginning in late 2004, throughout 2005, and into 2006 The Screaming Pen observed that Chinese media coverage of the United States appeared to become more conciliatory. Yet this was an admittedly subjective conclusion.

Wo hen gaoxing renshi ni!

The Method

The China Counter is thus forged out of a desire to quantify the accuracy of this hypothesis. The Counter monitors and classifies articles published in the People’s Daily (“the National Voice of the Party;” Beijing) and China View (a direct arm of the State, published by the Xinhua News Agency; Beijing), two large newspapers with national readership. Only original pieces are counted (not those pulled from a wire service such as the AP or Reuters), and when an article appears on both sites (as the news agencies sometimes share material) it will be counted once.

The scope of The China Counter includes only those articles whose main focus is either the United States or U.S.-China relations. From these there are four main kinds of articles. The first consists of those stories about cultural, social, athletic or other events and trends in the United States. These tend to focus on “soft” issues and are usually favorable or neutral. The second discusses U.S. domestic politics or international relations, often with no explicit mention of the effects these have on China, but these are usually only a short logical leap away. The third deals directly with U.S.-China relations. The fourth are opinion pages, op-eds, or blogs linked to the two sites’ homepages.

The articles are marked as favorable, unfavorable, or neutral/balanced. Favorable articles are those that focus on cooperation, admiration, or friendly relations between the two countries. Unfavorable articles are those that center on disagreement or are intended to highlight tensions. Neutral articles are those that are balanced and impartial, providing analysis without conclusion.


The correlation of the media’s tone to the thinking of Chinese leaders – a relationship made plausible due to heavy government censorship and even control of the press – might thus, through quantifiable measurement, contribute to the currently ubiquitous debate in America: Will China be peaceful or hostile? This assumption must nonetheless be presented along with a caveat: because news articles are inherently public, the ideas presented may be merely a product of China’s obligatory, or declared, policy. Put simply, it may represent what officials “want us to see,” not the leadership’s true thoughts and motivations. The relevance of The China Counter should accordingly be taken at face value.


 2006. All rights reserved.

More on the People’s Daily
More on the Xinhua News Agency
China Media Guide

May 10, 2006 Posted by | Asia, Author: DML, China, Country Profiles, International Relations, The Media, United States | 1 Comment

It’s a Definite Maybe

Alternatives to Black Gold

Bean Guzzler

When Tim Kay used his internal combustion engine to power a carriage in the late 19th century, the modern automobile was born. Originally hailed as an environmentally preferable alternative to manure dropping horses, the automobile’s reliance on refined oil -and our reliance on the automobile- has yielded several positives, namely economic expansion, industrial innovation, and Jed Clampett’s accidental discovery of Texas T, which led to the relocation of his family to Beverly Hills. It is also apparent that our reliance on oil has caused serious problems, including pollution and dependence on foreign oil in times of high prices. It is apparent that there may be an interesting side effect to high gas prices, however, as alternative sources of energy become profitable to produce when oil and gas prices are high.

The Options
Alternatives to purely gas and diesel powered vehicles are plenty, although for today’s discussion we will focus on the most likely options. They include completely replacing oil as a fuel, finding new ways to extract oil in different forms, and blending today’s fuels with additives in order to increase efficiency and decrease emissions. New technologies that could help accomplish these ends that were not economically viable to produce when oil was cheap, are now economically viable at $70 per barrel oil. Economic viability implies that if conventional oil is at a price lower than what it costs to produce an alternative, the alternative will not be produced because consumers will purchase the cheaper good. Along with providing insight into the direction of alternative energy, this is an important exercise in illustrating the market’s role in the energy issue. So far, it is apparent that the only way a move away from conventional oil will occur, is if market prices dictate a move, as tax credits for hybrid vehicles at both the state and federal level have been largely ineffective.

Shale Oil

The harvesting of the oil sands in western Canada have resulted in an economic boom in that area. This project, initiated on a large scale when oil became pricey, should serve as an example to America, who has similar reserves in the mountain states. Shale oil, which is held in porous rocks and is expensive to extract, is abundant in the Green River Basin of Colorado. It is estimated that the Green River Basin may hold up to two trillion barrels of shale oil. Cambridge Energy Associates estimates that it is viable to extract shale oil when crude is around $50 a barrel.

Related links:

Raytheon teams with Hyde Park Company for Shale Oil

BLM picks Oil Shale Development Candidates


Biodiesel is a mixture of diesel fuel and vegetable oil that produces a cleaner burning fuel with fewer emissions. The vegetable oil acts as a natural detergent that cleans oil lines better than the chemicals that are added to diesel. It is estimated that the production of Biodiesel makes sense from a profit standpoint when crude is at $80 barrel.

Related Links:

Countries Largest Biodeisel Plant Planned

Interest in Biodiesel Increases with Price of Gasoline


Although it is likely that we will eventually move to an alternative to conventional oil, OPEC nations would merely have to increase production for an extended period of time in order to drive the price of oil down, again making these alternatives unlikely. In order to be effective as a cartel and continually bring in the American dollars that prop up many of their economies, the oil producing nations need to do a better job from the production end. A shift away from oil would wreak havoc on the economies of Iran, Venezeula, and Russia, nations who are dependent on international oil sales. Also, this technology will not be adopted overnight, meaning that the current price of oil with regards to viability is somewhat irrelevant. If companies and investors believe that increasing oil prices are a secular, long term trend, then it would be absolutely necessary to begin developing alternative technology now, as a paradigm shift in the energy business could leave energy companies without an alternative energy business facing a loss in profitability.


May 10, 2006 Posted by | Author: JPL, Energy, Oil | Leave a comment