I've been getting into China Daily, which, according to my Rough Guide, is the only English-language newspaper in mainland China. I tried to read more about it on Wikipedia, but the entry doesn't load--usually a sign it's been blocked by The Great Firewall (as are a slew of other sites, even for visiting journalists). My Frommer's Beijing guide says it's a government-distributed "propaganda sheet." From what I've read so far, it's a little sad. For a taste, check out these alarmingly defensive Olympics-related articles from the last few days:
The haze that reduced visibility for a few days till Monday did not mean Beijing's air quality was bad, a senior city environmental official said Tuesday.
"Clouds and haze are not pollution. This kind of weather is a natural phenomenon. It has nothing to do with pollution," said Du Shaozhong, deputy director of the Beijing municipal bureau of environmental protection.
Photographs do not always tell the real story, he said. Some media agencies have projected the haze over Beijing as smog, and deliberately used it as a sign of the high pollution level in the city.
Such photographs "don't tell the truth", he said. "We don't approve of their use to pass judgment on the air quality ... you have to look at the complete monitoring system, and analyze the data scientifically."
As the Beijing Olympic Games approaches, the preparations for the world sports gala have intensified and with all these there is an atmosphere of openness.
Things which were previously regarded as taboos are now put in the spotlight for public discussion.
[One] thing that testifies the country's openness is its permission of the sales of some foreign publications to domestic and foreign readers in the Games venues and dozens of hotels.
Such unprecedented openness and transparency originate from China's self-confidence, which is based upon the country's belief in the improved perception and judgment of its people after the country has experienced decades of rapid economic and social development.
China's rapid economic development has brought to the people the best-ever benefits they have enjoyed in history, and the Chinese people should have a sober judgment about this. In today's society with developed information technology, no information can be blocked from the public.
The developed network of information has cultivated a reasonable perception among the Chinese people about the country and its future, which will not be influenced or changed by a few twisted reports.