China expat newspaper; chronicler of the weird

With all the world’s eyes on China these days, it’s no surprise that some rather humorous snippets about life in this enigmatic country are beginning to emerge and reveal themselves to the outside world.

By far, the greatest chronicler of bizarre China stories is the China Daily.

This English language newspaper is, for the most part, a serious bit of journalism devoured by the local expat population. The paper’s popular China Scene feature, however, veers off the road of sanity and delves into an entirely different part of China. “It’s a small window to an unseen China,” an editor recently told an LA Times journalist writing a story about the feature. “The Chinese have a reputation of being so serious. We show the other side of the national character.”

The stories are pulled from Chinese language newspapers and then translated into English and printed in the China Daily, much to the joy of its readers. The resulting humor is a combination of poor writing, yellow journalism, and urban legend masquerading as news. Journalist John M. Glionna provides a number of examples in his China’s news of the weird article, with my favorite being the following;

“One picture showed a woman sorting through the carcasses of 750 chickens that died after a neighbor had a fireworks display. The caption said the chickens panicked, ‘flew into the walls of their coop and smashed their little heads.'”

Smashed their little heads. Don’t you just love fledgling journalism!

So be sure to pick up a copy the next time you’re in China and have a good laugh at the expense of your hosts.