Note: Someone pointed out this is an old story, even though the version I was alerted to is dated May 21. Sorry – this is old news.
One of the oddest editorials I’ve seen, even for People’s Daily. Let’s dive right into it. Here’s the main premise:
Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) recently fired another four editorial staff of Chinese origin working for the China-Redaktion der Deutsche Welle (DW’s Chinese Department), for what it claims were financial reasons, but in actuality, as a result of expelling “dissidents” with “Communist background”. The four dismissed Chinese editors have probably fallen victim to DW’s intense censorship and deep-seated prejudice.
Syntax aside, there is so much wrong here, at least from a journalistic perspective. First, where do those scare quotes — “dissidents,” “Communist background” — come from? Did Deutsche Welle call them that? Or is the editorialist second-guessing and putting words in their mouths? Then there’s the audacious and breathtaking assertion in the last sentence: The four dismissed Chinese editors have probably fallen victim to DW’s intense censorship and deep-seated prejudice. Probably? Probably why? What makes this probable?
This entire opening is nothing less than a sweeping indictment of DW, but the sole source, cited toward the end, is an open letter written by the fired editors, who might be a bit biased, no? (If they even wrote the letter.) But obviously People’s Daily’s wrath toward DW goes way back, and the firings are simply a catalyst for the new scathing attack.
The editorial then gets better (that is to say, worse):
…Deutsche Welle has been eagerly appeasing overseas Chinese dissidents. DW hired a disputed Sinologist based in Germany, whose job is to sniff out all reports with even the slightest hint of friendliness toward China.
After two and a half years on his throne of censorship he has amassed venomous remarks on not only China-friendly reports but also the editors working at the China-Redaktion der Deutsche Welle and he even clamors for recognizing Taiwan as an “independent country”.
What the Sinologist and DW have said and done underlines their hostility toward China and clearly deviates from Germany’s persistent stance on the “one-China” principle.
For a long time, Deutsche Welle has been lambasting China and the Communist Party of China in its anti-China reporting, which, it claims, arises from the rigorous journalistic censorship imposed by the Chinese government.
It is really sad for a news organization to lose its dignity and objectivity and choose to publish or broadcast only the negative side of a particular country or even tarnish it with lies.
Has the writer ever heard of people living in glass houses? What media on earth is less objective, and what media is more bent on conveying “the negative side of another country” (like the U.S.) than China? And the bizarre allusion to the “disputed Sinologist” whose sole purpose is to make sure China is always vilified, and who sits on “a throne of censorship”? People’s Daily, lambasting censorship? And if they’re so certain this “disputed Sinologist” exists, why not give his name? Is this a secret?
This way-too-long editorial keeps on going, and soon its larger purpose emerges: the whole point is to bang the drum of “the Media War Against China,” a now familiar if hysterical complaint, and one that my trolls adore:
Behind the anti-China biased reporting in the Western media is the broader fear that China poses a threat to the West. With that preconception, some Western media believe that they need to undermine China and seek to bring about the collapse of this socialist country.
This is really convenient. Whenever a “negative” story (real or perceived) is written about China, it can be dismissed with the argument that the Western media seek the collapse of China. It’s the tired old antiCNN argument, but at least antiCNN tries to offer up evidence to back up its ridiculous claims. This editorial is one long list of groundless assertions, without the slightest hint of evidence that DW fired the employees because of their “Communist backgrounds,” except that the employees say so.
Do take a minute to read it all. It’s a stunning example of “journalism” run amok, and of the hysteria that so often makes China’s English-language newspapers the world’s laughingstock. What this reductio ad absurdium boils down to is the same argument as always: China is the victim of Western prejudice and the West is mean to them and wants them to collapse. Same script, a few different actors. Have they no idea how childish it sounds?
Thanks to the commenter who tipped me off to this.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.