Report to Readers: Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Fred Flintstone
Most weeks, the Monitor publishes three political cartoons by New Hampshire artist Mike Marland. On the off days, we choose from a big selection provided to us by a syndicated cartoon service. Typically, we pick cartoons by American (or sometimes Canadian) artists because they seem most relevant and funny. Cartoons from overseas are often obscure or so parochial that a Concord audience might find them bewildering.
All that said, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about a drawing from a Chinese cartoonist that arrived recently.
The image shows the change of the guard at the U.S. State Department. John Kerry, the incoming secretary of state, looks handsome and dignified as he waves goodbye to the outgoing secretary, Hillary Clinton. But Clinton is portrayed as a cave woman – and actually, given the spiked club she’s dragging across the carpet, she looks more Fred Flinstone than Betty Rubble.
What gives? Why does a Chinese cartoonist think of Clinton this way? The artist, Luojie, works for China Daily, an English-language newspaper in China with a circulation of more than half a million. Its reporting has a reputation for being more like Western journalism than that of other mainland Chinese papers, but it is still more controlled than anything in the West.
As Clinton exited her job, most of the coverage in the U.S. media was laudatory, and she took credit for moving the State Department in a more modern direction – not back to the Stone Age.
Turns out, her reputation in China is vastly different. Here, for instance is how a journalist from The Guardian described Clinton’s visit to China last fall:
“Personal and stinging attacks in the state media heralded the U.S. secretary of state’s arrival in Beijing. ‘Many people in China dislike Hillary Clinton,’ said an editorial in the state-run Global Times. ‘She has brought new and extremely profound mutual distrust between the mainstream societies of the two countries.’ Such stringent remarks were extremely unusual on the eve of a visit by a U.S. secretary of state, noted Shi Yinhong, an expert on the bilateral relationship.
“While Clinton’s press conference with Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi was more civil, it suggested no sign of movement on key issues. The two countries remain at an impasse over Syria, and tension persists over the complicated and long-running territorial wrangle in the South China Sea, involving China and numerous other regional powers.”
Ordinarily, the cave woman cartoon wouldn’t have made the cut in the Monitor. But it made me think publishing foreign drawings once in a while makes good sense. It’s easy to think our own perception is shared across the globe. Clearly, that’s not true – and sometimes a drawing can make the case as starkly as any news story.
(Felice Belman can be reached at 369-3370 or