China Finds A Target After The Flood: Foreign Media


after extreme flooding Having destroyed homes, engulfed subways and killed at least 73 people in central China last week, the ruling Communist Party has found a viable outlet for popular sentiment: foreign news media.

A party organization in Henan Province released a call to arms on social media to confront a BBC journalist covering the disaster there. A day later, angry residents surrounded Deutsche Welle and Los Angeles Times reporters, pushing and shouting. Later, nationalist commentators and news organizations used videos and screenshots of the conflict to launch a massive online attack on journalists working for foreign news outlets.

They described the Western media’s Chinese news as “fake”, “biased”, “slanderous” and “bad”. They claimed that foreign news of the devastating floods focused on the damage rather than government and public rescue efforts. They were unhappy that these journalists dared to call for transparency and accountability.

The Chinese Foreign Correspondents Club said in a statement. Declaration Disappointed and dismayed by the growing hostility towards foreign media in China, a sentiment promoted by rising Chinese nationalism was sometimes directly promoted by Chinese officials and official organizations.

Criticism of the Western news media is the inevitable result of the cultural war against foreign influence and the Communist Party’s campaign of anti-intellectualism led by Xi Jinping.

During its nine-year tenure, the party cracked down on key liberal-leaning opinion leaders. journalists, intellectuals, lawyers and business man. owner tucked inside Noisy social media conversations by heavily censoring and encouraging users to report on each other. He told people that ideas like democracy, media independence and human rights are driven by power. western powers hostile to China.

party for them propaganda and nationalistic feelings rule the day. And Western news outlets’ critical coverage of China is often no different than their news in their own country, with 1.4 billion people chanting “Glory to the Communist Party” as the dissonant noise in the chorus.

It doesn’t matter that almost all Western media websites are blocked in China and the public does not have easy access to their news. State news media and nationalist commentators sometimes cite former President Donald J. Trump, bringing up the fact that journalists are enemies of the people.

Foreign news outlets face more restricted access to the country and growing hostility among the Chinese public. Beijing last year deported More than a dozen mainland-American reporters working for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post are on diplomatic spit with the United States. The world will have to prepare for the second largest economy and the main competitor to the US to be less involved in the field.

China has a history of officially sponsored wars against foreigners. At the turn of the 19th century, with the support of Empress Dowager Cixi, Boxer warriors rose up to eliminate foreign influence. They killed Christian missionaries and converted the Chinese to Christianity.

Mao Zedong’s Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution set on fire Protesters in front of the British Embassy in Beijing shouted “Kill! To kill!” A Reuters journalist spent two years alone in a house in the city.

In recent years Beijing has become increasingly aggressive in attacking Western news media regarding Chinese news. Last week, “wolf-fighter” diplomats at the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka called Reuters news agency “shameless” for using a photo of a Chinese Olympic gold medalist, which diplomats described as “ugly”. The photo, which was also featured in the Chinese state news media, shows the athlete trying to lift weights.

“Do not put politics and ideologies before sports and call yourself an impartial media organization,” the embassy said. said on Twitter.

Even so, it was shocking last weekend when Henan’s Communist Youth League asked its 1.6 million followers on social media platform Weibo to report on the whereabouts of BBC journalist Robin Brant, who became the target of online harassment. Many comments below the post are threatening.

“As a student, walking down the street with a wrench makes sense, right?” one goes.

“As a construction worker,” says another, “it should make sense for me to carry a brick.”

Third, he says, “As a student surgeon, it should make sense for me to carry a scalpel.”

The next day, residents of Henan’s capital, Zhengzhou, surrounded a German TV reporter and Los Angeles Times reporter on assignment for Deutsche Welle, after confusing him with the German reporter, Mr. Brant. The crowd met with German reporter Mathias Boelinger.

Mr Bolinger wrote on Twitter a group of men kept pushing him, shouting that he was a bad guy and that he should stop slandering China. A woman filming him blocked his way. When asked who he was, he replied, “I am Chinese.”

One of the men said, “It’s okay if you tell the truth with a positive view of China. Don’t attack us,” asked Mr. Boelinger. “Can I interview you?”

The man said yes. But when Mr. Boelinger raised his camera, he said, “Don’t interview me. I do not like you.”

Mr. Boelinger said of Mr. Brant: “I really don’t know what would have happened if it was him. The media landscape in China is scary right now.”

The BBC published Declaration On Tuesday, he urged the Chinese government to take immediate action to stop attacks on journalists.

Since Sunday, China-based staff members have received death threats and intimidating messages and calls for the BBC, the Los Angeles Times and others, according to the China Foreign Correspondents Club. The Al Jazeera crew were tracked and filmed while reporting outside a Zhengzhou subway station, while Associated Press journalists were stopped and reported to the police while filming in a public area. Journalists covering a sunken tunnel for the news agency Agence France-Presse were forced to delete footage by hostile residents and were surrounded by several dozen men, according to the reporter group.

When several passers-by saw New York Times journalists conducting interviews on the streets of Zhengzhou earlier this week, they shouted at the interviewers not to speak, effectively ending the conversations.

“Of course, in this age, journalists will face harassment on social media,” said William Nee of the Chinese Human Rights Defenders, a Washington-based NGO. wrote on Twitter. But it is dangerous for the State to fuel these xenophobic worldviews to achieve its own political objectives rather than create a conducive environment for reporting.”

It is impossible to explain why so many ordinary Chinese seem eager to attack foreign journalists covering the floods. It was a serious natural disaster and probably difficult for any city to overcome. But it’s in the public interest to understand whether any deaths can be prevented.

Some people probably took their cues from the government. Last week, the Zhengzhou government hung banners on the sides of the sunken tunnel saying that gawking could damage the “image” of the city.

The online mafia is even more ruthless against the Chinese who dare to be critical. A journalism professor asked Weibo why the official Henan television station didn’t preempt its regularly scheduled programming to report on unprecedented rainfall. One commenter said he should have asked on behalf of his “American master.”

A separate post by a Chinese journalist complaining about the Zhengzhou government’s lack of transparency received so many hateful comments that he deleted it. Online critics soon moved on to his other flood-related posts, telling him “Go and change your nationality right away” and “Hurry to the United States.”

The Communist Party has not always been this intolerant of criticism. Former Prime Minister Zhu Rongji said in 1998 It would be acceptable if only 51 percent of media reports were positive. It didn’t have to be 99 percent, he said.

Over the next 15 years, investigative journalism flourished in some semi-independent publications. One of the most notable was the Guangzhou-based Southern Weekend newspaper, which Mr. Xi pursued after the newsroom in early 2013. rebelled against censorship.

In just a few years, all the papers, including Southern Weekend, lost their dominance and did not differ much from party news outlets.

On Wednesday, the main article on the newspaper’s website was a compilation of excerpts from Mr. Xi’s speech this month commemorating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party.

Yet the headline of the most popular article asked why the Zhengzhou government had not closed businesses and schools, despite many early warnings of heavy rains.


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