Over the past year, colluding with changes in American foreign policy unleashed by Trump, the western mainstream media have pursued a relentless demonization of China. All coverage has focused on presenting the country in abrasively negative, threatening and cynical terms. This is has involved a number of topics: Including alleged human abuses in Xinjiang, protests in Hong Kong, attacks on the telecommunications firm Huawei and the general promotion of any dissenting opinion with the goal of presenting the country in a critical light, without any kind of balance, context or alternative point of view.
Whilst the distribution of anti-China content has been manifold, it nevertheless varies from source to source. Some broadcasters such as the BBC are now producing anti-China content on a prolific scale, with leading stories on a negative angle about the Asian country every single day regardless of their actual newsworthy merit. In Australia, a country which has recently been swept with Anti-China hysteria, the climate is worse with one academic finding that the country’s local media were producing over 700 anti-China stories a year with emphasis on “influence”, causing Australian opinions of the country to sink.
But what is the explanation for this phenomena? And can we take it all at face value? Inevitably, there is not enough space nor time to comprehensively fact check every single element reported and on every single topic, but what we can do is help you provide a “template” as to why this is happening. These journalists want you to believe that is a fundamental threat to your values and way of life, it is not. Instead, it is a phenomenon which is not only misunderstood, but increasingly subject to history and paranoia as China becomes more influential in the world. The western media have a nasty habit of demonizing countries on a sided perspective, and it usually changes things for the worse. Here is our input.
First of all, we must understand that the western elite do not want China to challenge a undisputed monopoly over power and commerce which they have held for hundreds of years. China is the first non-western country to ever potentially challenge a euro-centric order which has dominated and exploited the world to its own ends since as early as the 17th century. The West has been able to sustain its power through a lopsided financial, media and corporate order, which has gave it unprecedented power to dominate the “non-west” through war, coercion, sanctions and economic desolation, all whilst creating an illusion to their own subjects that they are the righteous ones with a moral duty to bring “the truth” in the false name of liberating these nations from backwardness and oppression.
To consolidate this status quo, the west has a persistent and repetitive pattern of demonizing countries in dishonest and hyperbolic ways to conceal other motives and objectives, with the majority of the population often believing this sentiment as the so-called supremacy in values prevents people from thinking critical about what is going on, or from disagreeing with it. As a known example, the US and UK governments lied that Saddam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction” in order to stage an invasion. The rhetoric of “threat” and “liberation” go together to mass what are clear strategic, economic and geopolitical goals. The lack of public awareness surrounding this allows this deception to continue unabated.
Thus we come to the subject of China. The rise of China and its associated projects, such as the Belt and Road Initiative, pose to bring about an end to that system and in turn change the balance of power in favour of developing countries. This has led to a collaboration between journalists and analysts to exaggerate a “China threat” overseas. For example, whilst western countries have colonized, impoverished, exploited and ruined Africa over the last 100 years, we are nevertheless told in media coverage that Beijing is the “threat” to them and thus the “west” have the moral obligation to save the “helpless” Africans purely because China seeks to invest in the continent. This however is just one dynamic of how China is presented as a “threat”.
Another aspect of it is that China’s rapid economic advancement is also transforming into a technological ascendancy which also poses to shift the balance of power away from the United States. China’s technological advancements such as in Artificial intelligence, 5G internet technology and supercomputers have been rapid. This has led from the American political elite to pursue an all out demonization of Chinese technology under unproven claims of espionage (despite the fact that the U.S does this itself) with the goal of cutting it off from international markets and stamping out the competition through whipping up mass hysteria and deliberate distrust. For example, we’ve seen how Huawei has been at the forefront of relentless scaremongering by American officials and parroted in the media, all of which is taken at face value. Everything Chinese which is now a technological success story is now subject to similar attacks, even the popular app TipTok.
There are many more takes, we could go on all day. But the point is, it is this atmosphere which is leading to a proliferation of wholly negative coverage with the designated goal of turning people against Beijing with the goal of justifying confrontation. Narrative matters more than fact. To be blunt, there are some things to remember: 1) China is not trying to take over the world 2) China is not infiltrating your government or other countries 3) China is not stealing “intellectual property” or “cheating” on trade, it is not responsible for the decline of American industry 4) The west are more capable of spying on you than China is 5) China is not wiping out Muslims in its country, even if its methods of integrating them are ethically questionable 6) Hong Kong is a part of China, and the west is deliberately spurring up trouble there 7) China is not trapping other countries in debt- this is a myth 8) Chinese people are not brainwashed, stupid or unaware of their government’s flaws.
Instead, the mantle lies upon western audiences to discover the truth in a balanced, open minded and non-hysterical perspective. We must aim to understand China on its own terms and within its historical, cultural, economic and social context, than to fall back on a series of cliches. For the west to fall on a path of confrontation with China will be disastrous for global economic well-being, stability and general peace. We must come to our senses. China is not the cause or root of our problems, rather it lies much closer to home…