Free press my arse!
Growing up in this free democratic Western society during the seventies, I have an abiding memory of the fairness of the media. Most of the important issues of the day were reported in an even-handed manner by giving both sides of the argument. If you think about it, the implication was that by giving the rounded information, the reader would be equipped to make up their own mind. This is what a true democratic free press is all about. When only one side is presented then by similar implication you are being instructed on what to think and believe.
The Observer on Sunday was a broadsheet with a small print size and few ads. If a report were published on, for example, unrest in Israel at the time, then one page would be headed, “The view from the Israeli’s” while the facing page would be entitled, “The Palestinian View.” These two opinion pieces, written by two different but competent journalists, would be laden with facts, figures and dates, both accounts would cover the same incidents and yet both would utterly contradict the other almost entirely. It was quality journalism with intriguing insights into the issues behind the incidents. After such a long read you could sit back and reflect and you might come to the conclusion that they both had valid points or you might choose sides. Similarly, the BBC television stations utilised the same practice when presenting important news stories, that is, an in-depth look at the issue in question, which offered both sides of the argument. Our own RTE TV often did likewise.
Fast forward fifty years and the supposed quality newspaper today is the Guardian, the sister publication of the Sunday Observer. It is sad to report though that now we are only given one side of any news item published and it is inevitably the politically correct Neo-con version of events presented as a fait accompli needing no analysis by the reader but rather slavish acceptance that this can be the ‘only’ acceptable account. The BBC does the same thing now. Five of the six main TV stations in the USA will also be parroting the same narrative as will the Washington Post and the New York Times. These organs consider themselves to be the leading opinion formers in our free Western Society but I wonder?
As an example of what I am getting at, there is an article in today’s Guardian concerning China. In it they assert that, “In just the last two months, China has ordered the closure of a US consulate in the country’s southwest in response to a similar move from the US; fought a deadly border clash with India, an unresolved border that threatens to erupt again; seen the abrupt end of the so-called “golden era” of relations with the UK; engaged in a war of words with Australia, bringing relations close to an all-time low; forced a draconian national security law on Hong Kong, earning international condemnation; and fallen further into a rivalry with the US that is forcing other countries to choose sides. Increasingly, they are choosing the US.” Just that paragraph alone is worth dissecting to discover what might be the other side of the stories.
Firstly, the closure of a US consulate in China’s southwest was , as they tell us, a response to the US provoking them by doing it first. The Chinese reaction therefore the the classic diplomatic tit-for-tat practised by all countries in a similar situation. If the Yanks respond by closing the Chinese Embassy in Washington then you can expect the Chinks will do the same in Beijing. So the real story should be about the Americans initiating the conflict. But the paragraph goes on, “(China) fought a deadly border clash with India, an unresolved border that threatens to erupt again.” The first point to make is that it wasn’t deadly, not by a long shot. Soldiers from both sides fought a hand-to-hand battle killing no one. There is a snide implication in the tone of the article that might suggest to you the Chinese were responsible whereas in reality, we don’t know who started the row with both sides blaming the other.
The next point made is that, “(China) has seen the abrupt end of the so-called “golden era” of relations with the UK. The use of ‘so-called’ suggests that the writer is being sarcastic and that no such golden era ever existed, implying that the UK has always been hostile to China. If so, then he should have stated that. Then the writer accuses China of being, engaged in a war of words with Australia. Big deal! Sticks and stones and all that but it is not news surely. He adds that China has, fallen further into a rivalry with the US, without specifying the nature of the rivalry he is referring to. For the last ten years the Chinese have been growing their export markets in a most capitalistic fashion as they compete in the open markets with everybody else and there is nothing unusual about that. Militarily, the US spends more each year than the next six biggest spenders on defence, one of which is China, so the Chinese are hardly competing with them in this arena. So where, I ask, is this newer and deadlier rivalry he writes about?
But the point he makes that gets to me is that, (China) forced a draconian national security law on Hong Kong, earning international condemnation. This accusation is the most important point he wishes to make but it is buried amongst the other noise in order to slide it by you. Let’s look at the facts of this though. At midnight on the 1st July 1997, the United Kingdom ended administration for the colony of Hong Kong and returned control of the territory to China. Originally they had a hundred year ‘Lease” on Hong Kong and this expired. You can read about it here.
But basically the British gave it back and it became an integral part of China with the sole proviso that Hong Kong could continue with its capitalist system for a further fifty years. That was not a problem because the whole of China had become capitalist by that time. However, the British could not insist that Hong Kong remain a democracy given that China was governed by communism so the clear understanding then in 1997 was that Hong Kong would fall under a communist system of central Government while retaining capitalism as their economic doctrine and that’s what happened.
But China was communism with a capitalist economy so no change there. Residents who did not want this were free to leave and indeed, the UK facilitated this by offering UK citizenship to any residents who wished to avail of it. So for twenty years, Hong Kong proceeded normally with little change in the day-to-day lives of its inhabitants. In the last few months though, Hong Kong witnessed serious rioting with death on the streets, mass violence and destruction of both public and private property. It seemed to come from nowhere and the Chinese Government accused foreign security agencies of inciting the violence and paying cash to the participants for it. They may be right on that score but you won’t read about it in the Guardian if they are. At any rate, the Chinese allowed the local Hong Kong authorities to handle the problem until the leaders of the rioting began to plead with the West to intervene militarily. The correct analogy to make at this point would be, if spontaneous rioting erupted in New Orleans and lasted several months before the ringleaders pleaded with China and Russia to intervene militarily, how do you think Washington would respond? The National Guard would flood New Orleans, introduce a curfew and kill anyone on the streets after it. There would be mass arrests, special courts and prison sentences of thirty to life duly dished out. The Guardian would then most probably report that democracy had prevailed and the terrorists were behind bars where they belong.
In the case of Hong Kong, China imposed a national security law called the anti-sedition law, which targets the crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, with penalties as severe as life in prison. In the US, incitement to secession is considered to be treason, with all that implies. The US is engaged in a world wide war against terrorism, using it as the justification for invading several foreign countries. Subversion is a crime punishable by prison. The accusation of collusion with foreign forces is the basis of Russia-gate and efforts to impeach Trump, so if secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion are forbidden under our own democratic laws in the West, what is the issue with China applying the same laws in their territory?
So let’s read that paragraph again. “In just the last two months, China has ordered the closure of a US consulate in the country’s southwest in response to a similar move from the US; fought a deadly border clash with India, an unresolved border that threatens to erupt again; seen the abrupt end of the so-called “golden era” of relations with the UK; engaged in a war of words with Australia, bringing relations close to an all-time low; forced a draconian national security law on Hong Kong, earning international condemnation; and fallen further into a rivalry with the US that is forcing other countries to choose sides. Increasingly, they are choosing the US.” Looks a bit different now, doesn’t it?
I am certainly not pro-Chinese nor am I anti-West, but I would like to read fair and impartial accounts of world affairs, particularly on the pages of what has been traditionally a quality newspaper. I do not want to read the kind of impartial, one-sided shite above though and such obvious tainted propaganda will not help in forming my opinions under any circumstances.
The tabloids don’t even sink as low.