China’s “robot goddess” gave a stumbling first performance.
Robots rise as Chinese journalists give up on the profession
Xinhua News Agency breathlessly reports that it has “recently added a new member to its team, and he or she isn’t human,” but rather Jia Jia the robot, “a special Xinhua reporter who carried out an interview on…global AI experts and science and technology tycoons.” The state news agency says that its robot reporter “did a live interview with…a U.S. journalist and technology observer…the world’s first interactive conversation between an ‘AI reporter’ and a human being.”
Chinese news media might soon need all the robots it can get: on the China Media Project, David Bandurski laments a “progressive loss of professional journalism capacity in China’s media” in recent years.
Bandurski recalls a meeting two years ago “with some of the finest journalists to have worked in the Chinese media in the past two decades,” who “had broken major stories of corruption, malfeasance and cruelty, and who had, in the process, shaped the contemporary history of Chinese journalism.” Now, however, “all of them were busy with start-ups having little or nothing to do with journalism.” Low salaries and censorship are the two main factors driving journalists away from the profession, which is increasingly becoming “something to be endured only for a few years early in a career before one moves on to a job with real pay and a real future.”
Media companies themselves are hastening the departure from the profession of more experienced journalists: “Many media in China, old and new, routinely advertise journalism jobs by prioritizing applicants ‘under the age of 35.’”
No news is good news: Xi-Trump phone call number two
On Monday April 24, news broke of a second presidential phone call between Trump and Xi Jinping.
Nothing new was talked about.
The White House has published a terse readout of the call which reads like a Xinhua News Agency announcement — this is the entire text:
President Donald J. Trump spoke yesterday with President Xi Jinping of China to address issues regarding North Korea. President Trump criticized North Korea’s continued belligerence and emphasized that Pyongyang’s actions are destabilizing the Korean Peninsula. The two leaders reaffirmed the urgency of the threat posed by North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs, and committed to strengthen coordination in achieving the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Xinhua News Agency’s report on the call is somewhat wordier than the White House’s, and includes a message from Xi for “the parties concerned [to] shoulder their due responsibilities and meet each other halfway,” and states that he had “reached important consensus with Trump during a meeting at the latter’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida earlier this month, and that they had very good communication recently.” A similar version of that report in Chinese was April 24’s top story on the People’s Daily and other central state news media.
Sometime after the call with Xi, Reuters reports, Trump told a meeting “with the 15 U.N. Security Council ambassadors, including China and Russia, at the White House” that “the status quo in North Korea is also unacceptable,” and that the Security Council must be prepared to impose new sanctions on the Hermit Kingdom.
Other stories worth reading for a variety of opinions on the Xi-Trump call and the situation in the Korean peninsula include:
The South China Morning Post asks if the Trump-Xi call revealed a subtle shift in China’s stance on the North Korean nuclear crisis. See also John Pomfret’s piece from about two weeks ago in the Washington Post titled “China is suddenly leaning on North Korea — and it might be thanks to Trump.”
In the Washington Post, David S. Cohen, the former deputy director of the CIA, calls for secondary sanctions targeting Chinese banks that support the North Korean economy.
Hugh White, professor of strategic studies at the Australian National University and an influential voice in foreign affairs — especially when it comes to the divergence of the interests of the U.S. and Australia and other middle and small powers — says that “Washington’s ‘all options are on the table’ is a transparent and pointless bluff.”
“We are sending an armada, very powerful,” said Trump to Fox News on April 10, as a U.S. Navy carrier group headed to Australia, not North Korea as the president had announced. The Navy Times has a detailed report on the “series of gaffes and missteps throughout the entire national security structure to its highest levels [that] would raise the specter of a nuclear showdown, send the U.S. and Chinese governments into crisis mode, and expose alarming communication deficiencies within the American military at large.” It’s called Carried away: The inside story of how the Carl Vinson’s canceled port visit sparked a global crisis.