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Western media reveal China bias

By John F. Copper | China Daily | Updated: 2018-02-05 07:28
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Proof can be heard or seen almost daily of Western liberal media's bias against the People's Republic of China, which is subject to unfairness and ill will to discredit, embarrass, undermine, and more.

The details are instructive. It starts with the left's view that China is a traditional and conservative country where liberal ideas espoused by the mainstream media in the United States and Europe are not taking hold and will not. China, it is charged, will not "become like us". China's history and culture are too strong for that, not to mention that Chinese see their country as a past and even current victim of liberal Western countries.

More importantly, the Western mainstream media dread China's rise, seeing it as a threat to the liberal world order. In China, Western liberal democracy is not an ideology to admire or follow. Rather, China is influenced by its history of defining world politics wherein economic influence trumps military power.

Embarrassment for Western countries

A secondary impact and embarrassment of China's global economic dominance is its overtaking Western countries in helping developing countries prosper. China has also been doing more to alleviate global poverty than any other country.

Western countries cannot afford to help much anymore; developing countries have said this publicly to the West's embarrassment. Africa is the second-fastest growing region of the world for the first time ever because of China's foreign aid and investment.

China is likewise the main driver of global economic growth. According to the World Economic Forum, China will account for 35.2 percent of the world's real GDP growth from 2017 to 2019. The US will provide half of that-17.9 percent. The European Union less than one-fourth of China-7.9 percent. Japan will account for 1.5 percent and Russia 1.0 percent.

So, the Western liberal media attack China, citing a host of its foibles and sins.
It widely and regularly condemns China's "authoritarian dictatorship". Never mind that China's polity historically was a system that operated for the people not of the people or by the people and that it has recently done a yeoman's job of providing for its people-lifting 650 to 700 million of them out of poverty in the last three-plus decades. The government enjoys public popularity for this.

Forget also the fact that China, which was not historically a country of law, has made tremendous progress in that direction. China has also made big strides in citizen participation in politics. According to Pew Foundation polls, its government and leaders have greater citizen support by a wide margin than do the governments in the US, Japan, or Europe. By the way, Chinese citizens comment on politics online more than their counterparts in Western countries.

The bias in the reports is there for all to see

The Western liberal media report incessantly on the Chinese government's alleged oppressive control of its people, mentioning almost daily its heavy regulation of the internet and official overreach in controlling crime. They fail to mention, often at least, American and European citizens' growing concern over the deep state at home or that there is widespread blowback against big government intrusiveness in the latter countries.

The Western liberal media frequently cite China for its "repression" of the population in Tibet. Seldom mentioned is the fact that China eradicated Tibet's slave culture (or the fact the Dalai Lama was educated by Nazis) or that protest in Tibet is mostly against local capitalists and not the Chinese government. Because of misreporting on the Tibet situation and other issues, a few years ago became the most popular website for the youth in China.

China is also castigated in the Western media for its terrible air pollution. Westerners have the impression that Chinese cities are the worst in the world in terms of air quality, when the most polluted cities are in India, the Middle East and Africa. Beijing is far down the list at number 57 or 153 in the latest rankings. Considering there are various kinds of air pollution, Los Angeles ranks worse than most of China's metropolitan cities.

The liberal media excoriate China for human rights abuses. Ignored is the fact that China's record has improved immeasurably. Moreover, in terms of race relations, crimes against women, homelessness, the treatment of children and the elderly, public safety and using a number of other measures, China does better than the US.

The Western media blast China for cheating in its trade relations with other countries, even though most countries in the world practice protectionism of some sort. China is singled out because it is bigger economically, but also for its not being seen as politically correct.

Forgotten is the fact that China's trade surpluses increased big-time after it joined the World Trade Organization and that cases filed against China have not proven China to be a big violator. An inconvenient truth is that China is such a big competitor in trade mainly because of its work ethic, lower taxes and regulations, and fewer lawyers.

The liberal Western media also assail President Xi Jinping for "having abolished" collective leadership. Nor do they mention that more central authority is needed to deal with corruption, lax military discipline, and more hostile forces across the world that abhor China's rise.

The liberal Western media also pay little attention to Xi's concept of a community of shared future as the basis for China's foreign relations, though it is praised in non-Western countries.

Cultural body also prejudiced

Moreover, Hollywood and academe in the US, which are in league with the liberal media in their treatment of the Chinese, support racial discrimination in admission to US' top universities (plus liberal professors deliberately give Chinese and other Asians lower grades in their classes than other minorities) while the Chinese are by design almost excluded from American movies and television.

In conclusion, it can hardly be said that the Western liberal media bias toward China is a good thing.

For China, both its citizens and its leaders, Western media bias is seen as part of an effort to contain China, to keep China down, and to prevent it from playing a bigger role in international affairs-one that is in keeping with its economic and other advances. Chinese see it as the revival of imperialism, racism and worse.

Many also view Western liberal media bias as likely to bring the US and China into conflict. In fact, it has been said that the Western liberal media are so obsessed with obstructing China's continuing rise that its members think a war between the US and China might be a good thing.

On the other hand, this situation may be a "double-edged sword".

There is a positive side to the situation, though-cause for optimism. US-China relations have moved from being worse during the later years of the Barack Obama administration, than at any time since President Richard Nixon engineered a rapprochement between the two countries, to their two leaders being cordial and communicating effectively.

The author is the Stanley J Buckman professor of International Studies (emeritus) at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. He is the author of more than 30 books on China and US Asia policy. The article first appeared on

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