JOURNALISTS’ EXPULSION IN CHINA: BEIJING’S ATTEMPT TO CONTROL COVID-19 NARRATIVE?

Written by Erica Liaw

AS THE RICH GET TESTED, SO DOES US-CHINA RELATIONSHIP

China has declared that it will expel US nationals working for the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), effective immediately from 17 March. In an additional twist, China imposed an unprecedented prohibition on the relocation of affected journalists to Hong Kong, a common refuge for those blocked by China.

This is a significant escalation in a tit-for-tat dispute between the two. Earlier in March, the US  has capped the number of US-based journalists working for China state media outlets in the US and designating these outlets as “foreign missions”. This means that Chinese media outlets will need to gain approval before attaining office spaces and report personnel changes in the companies.

 

IS IT BECAUSE I AM CHINESE: PERFECT PRETEXT FOR EXPULSION? 

China’s retaliation also comes against a backdrop of anti-Asian sentiments amidst the coronavirus outbreak. A contentious title in WSJ’s op-ed “China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia” prompted China to expel  three WSJ’s journalists in mid-February.

China Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang also expressed strong indignation at Trump’s constant reference to the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus”. 

Other officials have defended that the term was necessary to counter the conspiracy theories spun by Chinese officials about the origins of the virus, which involve the American military.

 

NO ONE:
CCP: CONCEAL COVID-19 CHAOS, DON’T FEEL PUBLIC UPROAR

Horrific re-education camps in Xinjiang are being exposed by foreign reporters. A wave of unprecedented anger over the death of the whistleblowing Chinese doctor is reported by foreign correspondents in China. Public opinion of the Chinese Communist Party has taken a hit domestically and globally in recent times.

“Chinese leaders have domestic political reasons for kicking out foreign independent news media,” said Jacob Stokes, senior policy analyst in the China program at the United States Institute of Peace. “It means less scrutiny of official decisions, including those related to coronavirus, as well as events in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.” 

“Beijing also wants to control the narrative globally about the origins and China’s handling of the (COVID-19) pandemic.”

It is not surprising that China’s projection of itself as a responsible and heroic government will gain traction domestically as it contrasts itself against  a decadent, declining and racist US that is not only failing to look after its citizens but also pinning the blame on China. Whether Xi Jinping’s weakening public opinion will be saved by Trump’s racist vocabulary remains to be seen.

Erica Liaw is an NUS Political Science student. In her free time, she enjoys screaming in the shower and consuming caffeine in cinemas. If you see her walking around in circles, she’s either lost due to a poor sense of direction or she is cooling down after a run. Although Erica may look like a millennial, she is a bargain-hunter auntie at heart.

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