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Western media sourcing news by subterfuge in China is a betrayal of trust

By Stephen Ndegwa
Tuesday, April 6th, 2021
Foreign journalists at a past press conference in Beijing. Photo: Courtesy
In summary

The English expression “give a dog a bad name and hang him” is a mantra now widely used by the Western world in defining its relations with China. It is the precursor to the fast rising “cancel culture”, another ideological weapon used by the West to throw its perceived foes - those it does not rhyme with ideologically - under the bus through ostracization.

Recent revelations that foreign journalists mainly from the West have been “sourcing” their information from anti-China propagandists and even “cooking” stories on Xinjiang has once again put the intention of these countries in the spotlight. Barrie, a British Youtuber, has owned up on where the Western media gets its stories on China from.

He mentions a German religious zealot who is on the payroll of the British Broadcasting Corporation. But the most hilarious part is when he says the other source of information on China for Western media is, well, themselves. Any journalist worth his salt knows that fabricating lies is one of the cardinal sins in journalism.

It appears the foreign media in China has been co-opted in the massive misinformation campaigns and fake news driven from Western capitals in a bid to settle geopolitical scores and curb the freefall of their clout.

By demonising the Beijing regime, some of these insecure foreign governments believe that it makes them look good. Fortunately, the global dynamics of the previous global order have changed drastically, with the COVID-19 pandemic being the final nail on the coffin of Western hegemony.

The foreign press has actually betrayed their host. If these media were true to their calling, they would given the world the real picture in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region contrary to the misinformation that is trending in Western media channels. Like any other social microcosm, Xinjiang is not a perfect place. There is no place that has achieved social nirvana.

The foreign media has really nothing on China. If they had, they would have proved the conspiracy theory left behind by former U.S. President Donald Trump that claimed the coronavirus escaped from a laboratory in Wuhan. Sounds ridiculous but a lie often told starts becoming believable.

Beyond China, the foreign press based in other countries must respect the fact that some countries are not open to the tabloid or paparazzo mould of journalism which thrives on negativity. They must play by the rule, meaning that they need to always consider the sensitivities of their hosts and try to temper their freedom of expression with reality.

Xinhua News Agency's head office in Beijing, China. Photo: Courtesy

For the predominantly foreign media to proffer judgement on the internal affairs of other countries, they must first expose the grave injustices that their governments and corporations have wrought in other countries, particularly in poor countries of Africa and Asia. These include environmental degradation and instigating violent regime changes, leading to the death of millions of innocent people.

The Western media stands accused of ignoring or abetting the same human rights abuse they now purport to expose. Two classic examples suffice here. The first is standing aside during the 1983 to 1985 Ethiopian famine that left 1.2 million citizens dead. The other and even more painful is the Rwanda genocide in July 1994 that resulted in the death of one million Rwandese.

As foreign journalists are busy searching for needles in the haystack that is Xinjiang, their colleagues in Africa have totally ignored a slaughter of the innocents in Mozambique by suspected Islamist militants. Why? Because nothing great can come out of the dark continent and thus the human value is nothing to write home about.

Western media has a template for every country and region in which every narrative must fit even if it has to do so sideways. The journalists are hard pressed to report back home of the Chinese miracle in order not to spoil the party that the West still calls the shots around the world. But it is a bubble that has now burst, thus the desperation in finding any kind of faults, no matter how mundane.

Indeed, the sensational Western media should borrow some lessons from the now ubiquitous Chinese media, who report empathetically on their host countries’ social, political and economic developments. They do not snoop or purport to report on matters that they have scant background knowledge about. Blowing things out of proportion may achieve the intended objectives of undermining authority in the short term, but it totally erodes the credibility of the mis-informer.

Ultimately, foreigners, and not just the media, operate and live in another country courtesy of their hosts. There is no government that can tolerate saboteurs or those with its interests that are inimical to national security.

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