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'Press freedom degenerates into political tool'

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'Press freedom degenerates into political tool'

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In a recent smear campaign against China, the Western media have recruited a cohort of Chinese media practitioners as pawns to propagate their China-bashing rhetoric.

Don't expect these anti-China stories to be convincing, even if narrated by Chinese journalists, most of whom are born in China and appear in front of television screens as so-called "China experts."

Manipulating these journalists to misrepresent China and stir up ideological bias against the country has once again revealed that so-called "press freedom" touted by the Western media is just a handy tool to advance a narrow political agenda.

Anti-China misinformation

In the name of "press freedom," the Western media have produced piles of fake reports on China with their Chinese employees as authors or co-authors.

Also read: China asks ‘hacking empire’ US to refrain from cyberattacks

The stories have distorted China's domestic and foreign policies and reinforced the highly biased image of China in the Western world, gravely violating basic professional ethics and eliminating any sense of objectivity.

China's anti-pandemic fight has been one of the primary targets in this misinformation war. The Western media's Chinese employees have written articles claiming that China covered up the Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan at the beginning and misled the world in Covid-19 origins tracing. They have also criticised China's approach to handling the pandemic as "too rigid."

The facts speak for themselves. China reported the outbreak to the World Health Organization early on, shared the genome sequence of the virus with the rest of the world, and released information about the epidemic in a timely, open and transparent manner.

China has also been active in sharing anti-epidemic response experiences with the world and sending large quantities of supplies, vaccines and medicines to other countries, and has been engaged in science-based cooperation on Covid-19 origins tracing.

Furthermore, China has enjoyed widespread support from the Chinese public in its approach to stemming the spread of the disease.

Chinese reporters in Western media have also cobbled together "evidence" depicting China's so-called human rights violations.

Also read: China expresses concerns as US expels UN diplomats

Among these fabrications are the deplorable reports about the so-called "genocide" and "forced labor" in Xinjiang, which have been debunked by Chinese and foreign experts, ordinary people living there, as well as official data.

The same ploy has also been manipulated to slander China as an irresponsible player on the international stage.

Such baseless accusations have torn up the Western media's claim of being the epitome of trustworthiness and objectivity.

Pseudo 'China experts'

It is a miscalculation by the Western media that their anti-China stories will enjoy more credibility if told by journalists with Asian faces.

Nothing could be further from the truth, but that hasn't stopped Western media from claiming their reporters are "China experts."

Chi Wang, president of the US-China Policy Foundation who previously served as the head of the Chinese section at the US Library of Congress, said individuals who have no qualms over claiming expertise "are crawling out of the woodwork."

In the United States, these so-called experts either smear China or extol the importance of confronting China in critical fields.

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"It seems everyone with a pen, an opinion, and an audience is suddenly somehow an expert on arguably the most complex bilateral relationship in the world," said Wang, also a professor of US-China relations and modern China at US Georgetown University.

Failing to comprehend China's development path, how Confucianism shapes Chinese social interactions and how human rights operate in China, these so-called "China experts" have become accomplices in the Western media's misinformation campaigns and partially explain the public's declining confidence in the news media.

In the 21st annual Edelman Trust Barometer released last year, researchers found that for the first time, less than half of all Americans say they have any trust in US mainstream media, with 56 percent believing that "journalists and reporters are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations."

In September 2021, Javier Garcia, then head of the Beijing office of Spain's EFE News Agency, announced his decision to leave journalism because "the embarrassing information war against China has taken a good dose of my enthusiasm for this profession."

Garcia had enough of the Western media's obsession with tarnishing China's image. The American public is fed up, too.

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