To the Daily:

Understanding China, not the media’s version of it

In a column by Ian Robinson about how Michigan swimmer Michael Phelps should use his status at the Olympics to condemn the Chinese government, which supposedly violates peace and moral principles (Phelps should focus on more than swimming in Beijing, 03/05/2008). This prejudiced condemnation should not be accepted. I don’t know how much homework Robinson had done before he accused a foreign government that he might not know much about. However, I’m wondering whether Robinson has ever tried to approach the Chinese government about his concerns or learn what the Chinese government has done to help the Sudanese.

Fortunately, I read information from both sides and make my judgment. The Darfur issue in Sudan has its historical root in prolonged poverty. How many of those people who advocate a boycott of this summer’s Beijing Games have made a real trip to the Darfur region? The Chinese government has done a great deal in order to help solve the Darfur issue and is still doing more for the Sudanese, including constructing infrastructure and helping develop the Sudanese economy. However, many other related countries rarely do tangible and practical work to help relieve the sufferings in Darfur. Accusation and boycott won’t help solve the Darfur issue. A solution will only come from international cooperation and multilateral actions.

Robinson’s accusation that “If a Chinese citizen tried speak out against his or her government, that person would get jailed” is ridiculous. It’s ignorant of Chinese society, culture and politics. I assure you that Phelps will have the freedom to express himself however he likes as long as he doesn’t threaten to overthrow the Chinese government.

In terms of the Tiananmen Square event, people might not realize that almost all 1.3 billion Chinese want social stability. Had the event taken place in a Western country, other governments would not have condemned it so harshly because it was a defense of social stability. This is not just a political issue: This is about the fortunes of the Chinese and the People’s Republic. Like all Americans, all Chinese also need a peaceful, safe and prosperous life.

In addition, China is in a different part of the world. The Western media has never covcered a country like it. In the confrontation about global issues including poverty, conflict, energy crisis and so forth, only dialogue and coop eration can avoid misunderstanding and help solve these issues. Finally, I suggest that Robinson and any other prejudiced person takes a trip to China to learn about the country first-hand, rather than relying on the media.

Jinhui Chen

Rackham

The art of cartooning

Speaking from experience as a former art editor, a self-published artist and an artist published in The Gargoyle humor magazine, the comic-making process is long and arduous. Drawing comics is a craft that depends on both storytelling, creative humor and art. I must say that the Daily’s cartoonists are lacking in all of these areas. The comics appear rough and lacking in technical or stylistic effort, and the humor is commonly poorly thought out and executed. In Tuesday’s paper, the Daily’s public editor Paul Johnson defended the comics by saying that the art and humor is subjective (What is funny?, 03/04/2008). But in truth Johnson was trying to hide poorly made comics behind a philosophical argument about what defines humor and good art.

Humor and art aside, the comics as a whole could hardly pass off as thumbnails or even rough drafts in other newspapers or publications. If either the art or the writing in a comic is not worthy of being publish, the whole comic must be deemed unfit for publication. To publish poorly done comics, hoping that they increase in quality, is a poor editorial decision and a blow to a publication. An editor should strive to publish high-quality material and push the staff to become better, no matter what.

Johnson also discussed the difficulties of passing judgment on comics. He stated, “cartoons aren’t judged by the same objective standard as news in this regard.” That is completely wrong. Publishing a poorly drawn or thought out cartoon is no different from publishing a poorly written or grammatically incorrect article. If the Daily cannot find competent comic artists, then the correct editorial decision would be to not publish any comics until this is remedied.

The comics the Daily has published since the beginning of this year are eyesores. I would rank them among the league of Marmaduke and Cathy, but at least the authors of those two comics have some artistic skill.

Adrian Choy

Engineering freshman

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