The mainstream media had a celebratory tone leading up to the 100-year anniversary of China’s Communist Party, and coverage of the “ominous” speech by China’s leader Xi Jinping to mark the event left experts sounding the alarm over the American press’ coverage of the communist nation.
CNN was recently mocked as “Xi-N-N” for declaring Xi the “real star” of the celebration, while ABC News tweeted out a story about the CCP’s anniversary with the caption, “PARTY TIME.”
The fawning coverage of the CCP, which has been responsible for countless human rights abuses and killings, is the latest in a pattern of liberal media and tech giants using power and platforms to shape narratives that paint China in a positive light while suppressing information like the coronavirus lab-leak theory and downplaying brutal treatment of Uighur Muslims.
“I think it’s because a lot of news organizations want to do business in China, and so they are willing to soft-pedal coverage and they are not willing to give context where context is required,” author Gordon Chang told Fox News. “I think there’s the commercial motive there.”
Xi spoke from Tiananmen Square on Thursday, reconfirming China’s “historic mission” to control Taiwan while warning other countries not to interfere with a combative tone. Chang feels the mainstream media didn’t pick up on an “important message” that was sent to America through the communist leader’s rhetoric.
“What they should have said was that Xi Jinping has territorial designs on other countries. So really what he was saying was that he’s going to wage war on the region. And that was not pointed out,” Chang said, adding that most American media outlets lack context when covering China and failed to pick up on a key element of the speech.
“Xi Jinping talked about how the ‘Communist Party of China and the Chinese people, with their bravery and tenacity, solemnly proclaim to the world that the Chinese people are not only good at taking down the old world, but also good at building a new one,’” Chang said. “That is ominous because this harks back to what Xi Jinping has been talking about for more than a decade … that the world really should be ruled by the Chinese. My sense is that really was the most critical line in the speech and it didn’t get attention.”
The glowing coverage of the CCP anniversary came as the United States prepares to celebrate its independence on July 4. Chang thinks reporters and pundits who glorify China should take some time to consider how it will impact the future of the U.S. during the holiday weekend.
“We’ve got a media which is not patriotic by any means at a time where our society is at grave risk, and you have a Chinese media which is dominated by the Communist Party,” Chang said, noting that Chinese media outlets are largely either state-run or simply “propagate the party line” because they are obligated.
“We’ve got a free media, which means that people can do whatever they want, but the problem is that we are educating a whole generation that doesn’t understand the essential elements of our society and patriotism,” Chang said.
However, the “Great U.S.-China Tech War” author doesn’t place blame solely on the media.
“It’s a criticism of our society,” he said. “And it’s a dynamic which could lead to the downfall of our republic.”
David Stilwell, who served as the U.S. assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs from June 2019 until January, has been trying to get the American media to do a better job covering China for years.
“This thing looks a lot more like the Soviet Union than the big, fuzzy panda they’ve been painting themselves as,” Stilwell told Fox News, noting that American coverage often mirrors the agenda pushed by China.
“They’ve done a really good job, actually, of focusing on what they call political warfare, information warfare, getting into our system, pushing their message,” Stilwell said. “The media is going to police itself better … I think more than that, the American people are going to have to demand higher quality and not reward bad reporting and sensationalism.”
CNN was mocked earlier in June for publishing a report that boosted reports on China’s coronavirus vaccination rates, without appearing to question China’s too-good-to-be-true statistics.
Stilwell agrees that many news organizations are soft on China because of economic incentives, but he also feels some reporters are simply unprepared. He thinks if American media outlets spent more time trying to understand China before jumping into coverage, then Xi and the CCP wouldn’t necessarily be treated so favorably.
Atrocities committed by the CCP were recently listed by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, ranging from the annexation of Tibet in 1951 to the “grotesque human rights abuses” against the Uighurs in Xinjiang starting in 2017.
“If they actually investigated more than about an hour, they’d see that this is Kim Il-sung, North Korea style cult of personality,” Stilwell said. “It looks good on the surface at first blush. I don’t think they’re doing it because they particularly care for communism, I think that they’re just jumping on what looks like a good news story.”
Another issue Stilwell raised involves visas, and the fear that the CCP might not review them as a means of retaliation for coverage perceived as critical or negative by the communist government. He feels this could influence reporting by journalists in Beijing.
Stilwell also took exception to NBC News host Chuck Todd, who said last month that critics of China should “be careful of their words” because of a spike in hate crimes against Asian-Americans.
“I think Chuck Todd should be ashamed of himself,” Stilwell said. “Telling American leaders to self-censor, it’s the worst sort of pandering. What other country would we do that to?”
Chang didn’t appreciate Todd’s comment, either.
“There’s a regime that is trying to overthrow our government, so that is overriding, we need to be clear about it, we need to talk about it in candid tones,” Chang said. “All hates crimes are wrong … but we have to defend our society and we have to be clear about this.”
Fox News’ Caitlin McFall, Cortney O’Brien, Edmund DeMarche and Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.