As the Beijing Olympics reaches its mid way point, competition is taking place among the English-language western media to see which can win the gold medal for using the sporting event to engage in China bashing.
In the runup up to the Games we had reports from the western media print and web outlets emphasising why China does not deserve to host the games. Pre-game bashing coverage focused on publicising the games diplomatic boycott by the United States and a few western allies. This initial attempt to discourage the nations of the world from participating in China’s first winter olympics failed miserably.
Altogether 2,800 athletes from 91 countries are taking part – only one nation less than the record 92 taking part in the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics.
With its optimistic motto, “Together for a shared future”, the Beijing Olympics should be an occasion to bring the countries of the world together in peace and friendly competition.
As aptly summarised in the address of International Olympic President Thomas Bach during the games opening ceremony on 4 February.
“In our fragile world, where division, conflict and mistrust are on the rise, we show the world: yes, it is possible to be fierce rivals, while at the same time living peacefully and respectfully together.
This is the mission of the Olympic Games: bringing us together in peaceful competition. Always building bridges, never erecting walls. Uniting humankind in all our diversity”
In his speech, Bach referred to the Olympic spirit of truce and appealed to “all political authorities across the world: observe your commitment to this Olympic Truce. Give peace a chance”
Can Western Media Give Peace a Chance
Unfortunately this appeal for peace or at least a truce has been lost on the western media covering the Games
It is well recognised that the media is a key force that can help bring nations and communities together or keep them apart. So what can we find from western media coverage of the Beijing Olympics?
A close examination of what the western media has produced on the games to date shows the following tendencies:
- An emphasis on the superiority of western based values and systems
- An anti China agenda
- Racist undertones
- A thin layer of independent and fact based reporting
This finding is based on what has appeared in the reputedly more trustworthy liberal and progressive media in the US and Britain.
In comparison, a cursory reading of what has appeared in the more mainstream conservative media – with the exception of some right wing aligned media such as FOX media – shows a more neutral approach with the daily coverage and analysis generally confined to highlighting the results and performance of winning teams and individuals.
We can also see with the live television coverage of mainstream media such as NBC and USA, partly because of the emphasis on domestic events and sports, less of an attempt at propagandising negative views of China in the coverage or effort at influencing the viewership with analysis leading to racial stereotyping and denigration or demonization of countries.
What is important to note too is that media reporting in countries such as the United States harp on their integrity, independence, transparency and commitment to journalistic ethics. In addition, media companies having a global reach emphasise that they report issues and events in a way that reflects the global plurality of views. They also claim that their stories are to help different countries and communities understand each other better.
For now what we can see from the western media’s Beijing games coverage is a sharp contrast to these ideals with the emphasis on manipulation of stories and information aimed at bringing down China as a rising global power so as to ensure the supremacy and dominance of the US and western allies in the world.
Thus every aspect, news and development of the games – reliance on artificial snow, the weather, the choice of Uighur cross country skier, Dinigeer Yilamujiang as final torch bearer, the meals served, Covid quarantine requirements, the success of Gu Ailing, the failure of Zhu Yi, the response of segments of Chinese social media – has been subject to efforts to sensationalise the contentious and to reinforce negative views of the host nation, its citizenry and the athletes associated with China.
This anti-China propagandistic war waged by western media is nothing new. It emerged prominently during Trump’s period of office and continues unabated and more virulent in the China reporting of the leading western media – CNN, New York Times, Washington Post, Daily Mail, Yahoo, the Guardian and associated state media such as Britain’s BBC, Canada’s CBC, and Australia’s ABC as well as allied media from Japan such as Nikkei Asia and India’s The Times of India and The Hindu.
All of them have scouted the games in buzzard-like fashion to pick out victims that can support their cold war oriented journalism and targeting of China as the latest enemy.
Meantime here is a list of the medal winners in Western media China bashing during the Beijing Winter Olympics
Medal Winners in China Bashing
CNN for its ability to fashion emotional heart tugging stories such as “Fame and fury: China’s wildly different reactions to US-born Olympians” with its barely concealed critique of the country emerging through the insertion of select choice nationalistic voices from Chinese social media. CNN reports on China are always embellished by ‘evidence’ from the lucrative industry of anti-China think tank hawks and ‘experts’ to provide a veneer of impartiality.
Yahoo, although not outstanding in its own anti-China reporting, draws from a large number of other news agencies and is possibly the top most western media news aggregator on anti-China material. Daily coverage of China in its news page often takes up half or more of the news of the world and gives Yahoo! News sixth ranking among global news sites, ahead of Fox News and behind CNN, according to Alexa, the web traffic analysis company.
BBC, which claims to be impartial and independent with content to inform, educate and entertain people around the world, runs a close third to its US counterparts. According to one recent examiner, the organisation’s strong points in its China bashing content include: “overreporting on certain topics; atrocity-driven emotional headlines and content with a slant to only one point of view; a total absence of the other side of the argument; a continual use of sources from agenda-driven institutions without disclosure or balance; identifiable patterns in the output of reporting that conveniently overlap with certain foreign policy developments or objectives of London and Washington; abuse of non-political mediums such as BBC Sport to push certain points”. See Tom Fowdy. “I’ve spent months analyzing the BBC’s coverage of China. The results are revealing”, https://www.rt.com/op-ed/548337-broadcaster-bbc-coverage-china/