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People’s Daily Online ‘Dishonest Americans’ Series Controversy

People.com.cn (People's Daily website) "Dishonest Americans" series/column controversy.

From China Business News (May 28):

Recently, a special column/series by People’s Daily Online called “Dishonest Americans” intended to “help everyone fully understand the United States and Americans” received attention from media both at home and abroad. This column has published 3 articles from March to May, telling stories of a locksmith in New York charging nearly 800 USD for unlocking two locks, a payroll company that closed clients’ accounts but then steal funds from, and a United Airlines worker who stopped passengers from boarding a plane due to overselling of tickets. Previously, the column basically received no attention, until several well-known Chinese media reported about these articles, arousing huge controversy on the internet.

Screenshot of "Dishonest Americans" column on China's People's Daily newspaper website People.com.cn.

From Southern Metropolis Daily (May 24):

People’s Daily Online Launches “Dishonest Americans” Column

People’s Daily Online launches new “Dishonest Americans” column, claiming that Americans are not all honest, reliable, and of good moral character.

[The introduction to the column by People’s Daily Online itself] Editor’s Note: In the impression of the overwhelming majority of Chinese people, Americans are all people who are honest, reliable, and of good moral character. However, once you’ve live in the country for a while, you’ll discover you’ve been misled. Today, we launch a new column, titled “Dishonest Americans”, which is not to say all Americans are lacking integrity and are immoral, but to present to everyone the other side of the Americans and incidents that we have encountered in the United States, to help everyone fully understand the United States and Americans. Readers who have had similar problems/issues are welcome to email us your story to [email protected], or you can also send us a lead on a story, and our reporters will conduct further investigation.”

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Note: The above is our own translation of the original Chinese-language “Editor’s Note”. With regards to the issues surrounding language translation, and for comparison, the following is People’s Daily Online own English-language “Editor’s Note” as used on the English version of its website, which did not include the last sentence welcoming readers to submit stories.

From editor: Most Chinese people think that Americans are honest, reliable, and righteous. But once you live in the country for a while, you may discover the descriptions above are a bit misleading. Today’s topic, “The Dishonest Americans Series”, does not refer to all Americans. We want to unveil some incidents and Americans we have encountered, so to provide a more objective picture of what the US and Americans are really like.

From Sina (May 28):

People’s Daily Online Criticizes the United States: “Dishonest Americans” Name Changed

On May 22, People’s Daily Online’s column “Dishonest Americans” telling stories of the experiences and Americans that Chinese people have encountered in the United States aroused attention on the internet. Owing to the column’s title being the subject of controversy, People’s Daily Online has already altered the column title to “The Americans You Don’t Know”.

People.com.cn's "Dishonest Americans" series/column, about ADP payroll services.

People.com.cn's "Dishonest Americans" series/column, about ADP payroll services.

As of May 30, neither “无德无信美国人” (“Dishonest Americans”) nor “你不了解的美国人” (“The Americans You Don’t Know”) appear on the respective People’s Daily Online articles. The “Editor’s Note” also seem to have been removed.

Comments from Sina Weibo:

@香港在線:

The “Dishonest Americans” that People’s Daily Online are referring to, I reckon it’s making fun of the family members of those “naked officials” [Chinese government officials whose wife and children have already emigrated abroad].

@连鹏:

The editors of People.com.com are not necessarily anti-American. To them, maybe “anti-Americanism is work, pro-Americanism is life”.

@大漠无痕岁月:

Every single country has dishonest people, but how many dishonest governments are in the world is something the entire world’s people all know, and there’s no need to launch a column about it.

@新五里微博:

The United States is a selfish, hegemonic, warlike country that likes to make trouble out of nothing.

@_陈_辉_:

I support this column, if “In the impression of the overwhelming majority of Chinese people, Americans are all people who are honest, reliable, and of good moral character” is true, because a lot of Americans are not honest or kind.

@後座Rondo:

Why not launch a column of comparison [between Chinese and Americans]?

@Ellto:

When there are already so many cases of dishonest Chinese businessmen, why go and write about Americans?

@实用下载:

…Fuck, when I don’t even encounter more than a few Americans a year in my life, why the hell would I care? When we ourselves have so many problems that remains unsolved, People’s Daily Online must have too much time on its hands.

@美国居民:

I trust our government officials would never send their own sons and daughters to such a “dishonest country”.

@豆奶YANG_Element:

If I worked at the airport and encountered a North Korean, I too would give him trouble. 

@骗了无涯过客:

I hope this column can persevere/continue for the long-term, so all Chinese can see clearly the true character of Americans, and not see Americans as saints.

@三犀:

I believe this is a test. The verdict is that the majority are pro-American.

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