It’s distressing to see The [Washington] Post become a channel for state propaganda from the People’s Republic of China. Yet that’s what’s happening with the lengthy advertorials from the China Daily that are distributed with your newspaper.
The Sept. 30 “Chinawatch” insert was especially objectionable. Four of the six pages were filled with happy, seemingly fact-filled reports about the latest developments with Taiwan, all masquerading as “news.” But they were missing crucial context for understanding the fraught relations across the Taiwan Strait. There was no mention of controversies within democratic Taiwan about the new policies and their effects, nor any observations contrary to China’s deceptive strategies. All was harmony and light.
The Chinese government is spending generously worldwide to promote its view. But your accepting its advertising dollars is no mere commercial transaction. These “news reports” are from a state-controlled arm of the Chinese propaganda establishment.
This is not a service to readers, and the advertorials directly conflict with the integrity and fairness that I expect from The Post.
– Julian Baum, Richmond
The above was taken from the letters section of the Washington Post in 2011.
China Daily is a fully-owned subsidiary and propaganda arm of the Communist Party of China
The Post, since at least that year, has carried reporting from the China Daily paper under an advertising deal they call “China Watch”.
But it should – as Julian Baum from Richmond implies – be called “China Botch” since it is nothing like accurate or contextualized reporting on the region.
That’s because China Daily is a fully-owned subsidiary and propaganda arm of the Communist Party of China i.e. the government.
The issue once again came to my attention after Federalist contributor Mark Hemingway tweeted about his cancellation of the Post on the basis of its pro-Chinese government supplement. I credit him with much of the steer for this article.
Hemingway linked to an article in the Atlantic, also from 2011, which said of the Post’s then-new deal:
“Recently the Washington Post has started carrying China Daily‘s US edition as a physically separate advertising supplement to the printed paper, as described here. Fine: it’s clearly labeled, and we’ve all gotta stay in business. But now the Post is doing the same thing on its website. Look at this part of the “Washington Post“‘s site as it appears just now, and tell me how obvious it is that you’re seeing a paid presentation of official Chinese government propaganda perspective…”
The author, James Fallows, embedded the following image:
He was right to draw attention to it.
It is only made clear in a very small, italicized sub-sub-heading in the lower right of the blue banner that the China Watch pages of the Washington Post website were “a paid supplement”. It also never made clear who paid for the supplement.
The Post‘s shoddy reporting on China since that deal was done was strongly criticized by the paper’s own ombudsman, on its own pages.
In 2012, Patrick B. Pexton wrote of his own employer:
On Feb. 13, The Post published the transcript of an interview with China’s vice president, Xi Jinping. It took up more than half of an inside page on the day the future leader of the People’s Republic arrived in Washington for an official visit.
The next day, The Post ran an unusual explanatory correction about the interview, which, it turns out, wasn’t much of an interview at all.
In publishing the transcript, which was more press release or propaganda than news, The Post set a bad precedent with the authoritarian government in Beijing.
In publishing the transcript, which was more press release or propaganda than news, The Post set a bad precedent with the authoritarian government in Beijing. – Patrick Pexton, WaPo Ombudsman
Pexton left his post at the Post the following year, and the paper has been sans ombudsman since.
When rumor first reared its head of the termination of the position, Pexton wrote: “…that will end nearly 43 years of this publication having enough courage and confidence to employ a full-time reader representative and critic”.
In the immediate aftermath, he remarked: “The power of truth is the power to humble governments, to obtain justice, to foil hypocrisy, to help the downtrodden, to reveal the world as it is, not as we might like it to be.”
A few months later the company was bought by Jeff Bezos, and a few years after that they adopted the anti-Trump strap-line (admitted as much to me anonymously by one of the paper’s reporters) “Democracy Dies in Darkness”.
But the darkness has remained as far as China is concerned.
Hemingway tweeted earlier: “Can someone tell me why a newspaper owned by literally the richest man in the world needs to take money from people running concentration camps?”
The truth is more likely tied up in the Post and its owners’ external, rather than internal reliance on China.
From a strictly newspaper oriented perspective, the Post doesn’t really need the relative pittance pledged by China Daily.
But as an international business magnate, Bezos and can’t be too critical of a nation critical to his other business’ supply chains or manufacturing bases.
As Peter Schweizer taught us in his book Secret Empires, there are few leading international figures without lucrative China links.
The Washington Post to this day continues to cite China Daily, sometimes referring to it as a “state-run newspaper”, but not always.
They use pictures from China Daily, as well as linking to the Communist propaganda outfit in their editorial round ups.
The same applies for the New York Times, another paper which has set its face like flint against the Trump administration, feigning outrage and insisting upon its defense of democracy in its breathless coverage of U.S. domestic affairs since 2016.
At the end of 2018, the Des Moines Register ran Chinese state propaganda on its pages, urging the American people to oppose President Trump’s trade war with the Communist country. The Des Moines Register endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016, and its editorial board continues to press the “impeach 45” line.
With a new round of protests in Hong Kong threatening the hegemony of the Chinese government in the territory, China Daily has upped the ante on its lies, and these Western media outlets have been enablers in terms of China Daily‘s gravitas and respectability.
Headlined “HK parents march against US meddling,” the [China Daily] report said that a group of 30 people marched yesterday (June 16) to the US consulate, with one member of the group saying that it was “despicable that some US politicians repeatedly interfered in the extradition law matter.”
The paper focused on a 30-person, anti-Western protest, rather than the two million-strong anti-China one. Quartz continues:
China Daily’s report today also followed an incident last week where the newspaper ignored a million-person-march on June 9 and chose instead to report a story on a “city-wide signature campaign” that was signed by 800,000 people.
The self-appointed media watchdogs across legacy news outlets such as CNN persistently tear into President Trump for citing (and even for watching) Fox News or most recently, the One America News Network. But they are routinely and shockingly silent on the laundering of legitimacy conducted by the Washington Post, New York Times, Des Moines Register, and others.
As Hemingway noted on Monday: “In the meantime, [the Washington Post] has thundered about the Kashoggi killing and human rights in Saudi Arabia. Maybe it’s time the Post walked the walk on human rights?”
He concluded: “…the next time a journalist gripes about being called propaganda or accused of being unAmerican, just remember the [Washington Post] is literally delivering Chinese communist propaganda into American homes.”
Raheem Kassam is the Editor in Chief of HumanEvents.com