Saturday, April 5, 2008

NYT Archive 1989: The Charm of Comrade Gorbachev

There were quite a few coverages related to China in April 5, 1989's edition of New York Times. The Dow Chemical Company was entering a joint venture with China's Zhejiang Chemical Factory. Someone was trying to introduce the concept of fortune cookie to Chinese in Hong Kong.

In the last day of the National People's Congress, a measure giving special privileges to the southern city of Shenzhen, was approved with 1,609 in favor, 274 against, and 805 abstentions. What's the big news here? Such dissension in a NPC's voting was simply unheard of before. Motions were also proposed to have a vote of confidence on government officials, to forbid offsprings of high-rank officials from engaging in business deals, and to ban the imports of the Mercedes-Benz cars which were a symbol of official perks. Democracy seemed to be on the march.

Meanwhile, back in Cuba, all three US networks were broadcasting their evening news live from Havana, covering an official visit of the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Peter Jennings of ABC, Dan Rather of CBS, Tom Brokaw of NBC were all there. "The presence of the anchors at a site outside their New York studios has always signaled a story deemed of special broadcast significance," so says the NYT.

The anchors were drawn to the charm of Mr. Gorbachev for his mega-star quality with "an ability to woo visitors".

Next on Gorbachev's itinerary was a much anticipated state visit to Beijing in May. At this time in April, NYT reported that CBS had already committed to even more extensive coverage while ABC and NBC had not yet made their decisions. Speaking of being in Beijing, Mr. Rather said, "it will make this cuba trip look like Ned in kneepants."

If he would only know!

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