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Anti-China Rhetoric Is Off the Charts in Western Media



A key feature of mainstream Western media today is the relentless China-bashing. It is off the charts and tiring, often involving regurgitated trivia or fabricated stories with no evidence to support callous statements about the country, demonstrating a deep lack of understanding. But such stories continue to be churned out with no end in sight.

Countering this in international media by offering more balanced views for a global audience is near impossible as censorship is rife. There almost seems to be a global compact to control the narrative, a propaganda war powered by today’s digital technology.

Just try looking for a positive story on China any day of the week in any of the leading global media outlets. Apart from reports in January about the Lunar New Year, there will hardly be any, and these too are likely to have a negative spin. It would appear there is a confidential memo circulating within Western media groups that guides reporters and editors to ensure there cannot be any positive news arising from a country with 1.3 billion people.

Typically, the negative stories adhere to three core ideas, which inform the unspoken guidelines within these press rooms when it comes to reporting on China.


First is the belief that China is a threat to the world and that this belief must be relentlessly reinforced at every available opportunity. How and why China is a threat is never explored; such is the deep-rooted and almost religious nature of the belief. Sound arguments do not matter. The basic tenets of good journalism are ignored when it comes to a China story. There is no need to explain or give evidence of why China is a global threat.

Left ignored is the plentiful evidence that shows China is not a global threat – even if one can point to mistakes and overreach in certain areas. China has not invaded any country in decades, or imposed sanctions that have devasted the lives of millions in poor countries, unlike the West, led by the United States.

Second is that China must be linked to every possible global event that affects the West. This provides an opportunity for the West to bash China while simultaneously burnishing its own credentials as the supposed arbiters of what is right and wrong in international relations. From the pandemic to the Russia-Ukraine war to carbon emissions; from rising sea levels to the scramble for rare earths; from the building of infrastructure in Africa to the production of vaccines – there must be an angle to demonize the country and instill fear in Western nations (and beyond).

Indeed, media outlets are reverting to the “yellow peril” of the late 1800s. There is no subtle and nuanced approach to instilling fear like this. It is full-on and very often blatantly racist – but it is now acceptable for one to be racist about the Chinese in Western media, despite the fact that Black-White relations are very carefully described.

The third part of this phenomenon, which is surprisingly not challenged by liberal readers of mainstream media, is the sentiment that everything must be done – even illegal and unfair methods – to arrest the rise of China. Never mind the rights of hundreds of millions of Chinese to have a better life after a century of poverty and deprivation.

Headline after headline that capture this sentiment have normalized the view that there is a need to curb the rise of China, and that this is a legitimate geopolitical objective. There is no explanation about why or if it is even morally acceptable. It has become a feature of Western commentary on China to say that its rise is a concern and a threat. With this assumption unassailably in place, the West has the right to galvanize – and even bully – its allies and ask the absurd question, “what should be done about China’s rise?” – as if China does not have the right to carve its own place in the new world.

There is even a school of thought in the United States that it was America that magnanimously allowed China its first baby steps into the globalized economy, and that in hindsight the U.S. was too nice to China. This view betrays everything that is imperial about the West and why it is unable to come to terms with the legitimate rights of other nations to grow and become powers in their own right. The assumption is that the rise of others is a gift from the West, and accordingly they must never challenge its supremacy. The deeply entrenched view in the West from centuries of domination is that it will decide which nations will be permitted to be participants in the global economy according to its self-serving “rules-based order.”

Indeed, Western media seem wholly tied to the hegemonic competition view of geopolitics, constantly referencing the “Thucydides Trap” and being stuck in the Western canon as if there are no other ways of looking at geopolitics and world order. This view assumes conflict is inevitable and helps to demonize China while justifying the hegemonic position of the West – and the United States in particular – as a globally stabilizing force.

Needless to say, this is an extremely belligerent position to take, and not something media should be egging on. Whatever happened to promoting multilateralism? And why are people who speak to multilateralism side-lined as idealists or China apologists? This flies in the face of fair reporting.

So, how to fix this?

First, people in China and the non-Western world must realize that when it comes to the workings of the mainstream media we are in a new era – a propaganda war the likes of which the world has never seen before, powered by today’s digital technology. The media war is real, and tech-driven, and it is not a fight for eyeballs to deliver fair, honest, and educational news. It is almost everything else but that, especially when it comes to China or enemies of the West.

On one side is sheer propaganda aimed at the preservation of Western power. Participants include the most well-known brands in the Western media world, which are household names across the world.

The idea that Western media is run by fair-minded people who are independent, driven only by a desire to talk truth to power, is a mirage. It is a myth, and it is a bitter pill that needs to be swallowed. The idea that the Western journalist is a paragon of virtue also needs to be banished from the minds of consumers of media.

That is the first stage in enabling one to step out of the propaganda mist we are engulfed in on a daily basis, so that one can examine different viewpoints as news is consumed. This is not easy, given the current dominance of Western media outlets and their apparently collective mission.

The next step is to dismantle the dominance of Western media.

This too will be a long, hard fight. Mainstream Western media are the most powerful in the world and for close to a century, Western media have had a stranglehold on the dissemination of international news and viewpoints across the world. Many had their origins in colonialism, the preservation of empire and later the spread of Western ideas about how the world should be run. These outlets are a powerful economic force and dislodging them will require investments.

Across the world there is an opportunity to contribute to this effort, not necessarily by building large media companies but by investing in media companies that are committed to fair and objective analysis, so that local audiences in the first instance have choices and are not inundated by the propaganda of mainstream Western media. This too will not be an easy task and there are many hurdles to overcome, but this is not the space to dive into those details. Ultimately, it is all about readers becoming more aware of global issues by having more non-Western sources to rely on, so they are not victims of the current propaganda war. This is beginning to happen as more alternatives flourish.

It is an urgent need in the West too so that the mass hysteria generated by mainstream media is prevented from creating fear and pitting Western societies against the rest of the world. Today the target is China; tomorrow India and then maybe Africa.


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Gautam Adani acquires 49% in Quintillion Business Media for Rs 48 crore



Billionaire Gautam Adani’s AMG Media Networks has acquired about a 49 per cent stake in Raghav Bahl-curated digital business news platform Quintillion Business Media Pvt Ltd for about Rs 48 crore.

In a stock exchange filing, Adani Enterprises Ltd said its subsidiary AMG Media Networks Ltd has completed the acquisition which was originally announced in May last year.

The transaction was completed on March 27 for “Rs 47.84 crore”, it said.

Quintillion Business Media runs the news platform Bloomberg Quint, now called BQ Prime.


Adani group had set up AMG Media Networks for its foray into businesses of “publishing, advertising, broadcasting, distribution of content over different types of media networks”.

In May last year, it had signed a shareholders’ agreement with Quintillion Media Ltd (QML) and QBML.

In September 2021, it hired veteran journalist Sanjay Pugalia to lead its media company Adani Media Ventures.



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Twitter source code partially leaked online, court filing says



GitHub removed code shared without permission after request by social media giant, court filing says.

Twitter’s source code has partially leaked online, according to a legal filing by the social media giant.

Twitter asked GitHub, an online software development platform, to remove the code after it was posted online without permission earlier this month, the legal document filed in the US state of California showed on Sunday.

GitHub complied with Twitter’s request to remove the code after the social media company on March 24 issued a subpoena to identify a user known as “FreeSpeechEnthusiast”, according to the filing with the US District Court of the Northern District of California. San Francisco-based Twitter noted in the filing that the postings infringe on the platform’s intellectual property rights.


The filing was first reported by The New York Times.

The leak of the code is the latest hiccup at the social media giant since its purchase by Elon Musk, whose tenure has been marked by mass layoffs, outages, sweeping changes to content moderation and heated debate about the proper balance between free speech and online safety.

Musk, who bought Twitter for $44bn last October, said recently that Twitter would open the source code used to recommend tweets on March 31. Musk, who also runs Tesla and several other companies, said the platform’s algorithm was overly complex and predicted people would find “many silly things” once the code was made public. It is not clear if the leaked source relates to the code used to recommend tweets.

“Providing code transparency will be incredibly embarrassing at first, but it should lead to rapid improvement in recommendation quality,” he wrote on Twitter. “Most importantly, we hope to earn your trust.”


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Utah is first US state to limit teen social media access



Child on phoneGetty Images

Utah has become the first US state to require social media firms get parental consent for children to use their apps and verify users are at least 18.

The governor said he signed the two sweeping measures to protect young people in the state.

The bills will give parents full access to their children’s online accounts, including posts and private messages.

The move comes amidst heightened concern over the impact of social media on children’s mental health.


Under the measures enacted on Thursday, a parent or guardian’s explicit consent will be needed before children can create accounts on apps such Instagram, Facebook and TikTok.

The bills also impose a social media curfew that blocks children’s access between 22:30 and 06:30, unless adjusted by their parents.

Under the legislation, social media companies will no longer be able to collect a child’s data or be targeted for advertising.

The two bills – which are also designed to make it easier to take legal action against social media companies – will take effect on March 1, 2024.

Governor Spencer Cox, a Republican, wrote on Twitter: “We’re no longer willing to let social media companies continue to harm the mental health of our youth.

“As leaders, and parents, we have a responsibility to protect our young people.”

Children’s advocacy group Commons Sense Media welcomed the governor’s move to curtail some of social media’s most addictive features, calling it a “huge victory for kids and families in Utah”.

“It adds momentum for other states to hold social media companies accountable to ensure kids across the country are protected online,” said Jim Steyer, Common Sense Media’s founder and CEO.

Similar regulations are being considered in four other Republican-led states – Arkansas, Texas, Ohio and Louisiana – and Democratic-led New Jersey.

But Common Sense Media and other advocacy groups warned some parts of the new legislation could put children at risk.

Ari Z Cohn, a free speech lawyer for TechFreedom, said the bill posed “significant free speech problems”.

“There are so many children who might be in abusive households,” he told the BBC, “who might be LGBT, who could be cut-off from social media entirely.”

In response, Meta, Facebook’s parent company, said it has robust tools to keep children safe.

A spokesperson told the BBC: “We’ve developed more than 30 tools to support teens and families, including tools that let parents and teens work together to limit the amount of time teens spend on Instagram, and age verification technology that helps teens have age-appropriate experiences.”

There has been other US bipartisan support for social media legislation aimed at protecting children.

President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address in February called for laws banning tech companies from collecting data on children.

Last year, California state lawmakers passed their own child data law. Among other measures, the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act requires digital platforms to make the highest privacy features for under-18 users a default setting.

The passage of the Utah bills coincides with a bruising congressional hearing for TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew.



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