Sam E Lewis
The CCP’s crocodile tears are nauseating
For those of us that have had the pleasure of living in China, amongst their friendly people, eating wonderful food on a daily basis and soaking in the fascinating culture that makes the Chinese a civilisation in their own right, one of the few great annoyances of day to day life is the lack of real news. If brevity be the soul of wit, then VPNs be the soul of sanity on the mainland. Cut off from the Western world, the only way I could read the BBC, The Financial Times, or any other media of repute that had the audacity to approach politics with impartiality, was through pressing a button that almost instantly transferred me to a land whose Government trusted its people to distinguish between right and wrong.
Thursday’s news that Ofcom, a body entirely independent of central UK Government control, had banned the broadcasting rights of CGTN because Star China Media Limited, which owns the licence, “did not have editorial responsibility” led to a fierce backlash from the Chinese Foreign Ministry. Foreign Minister Wang Wenbin, frothing at the mouth as he spoke, complained Ofcom had acted on “political grounds based on ideological bias…seriously harming the survival of Chinese media”, going onto state this would likely effect relations between the UK and China. Not to be outdone by their own Foreign Ministry, Chinese netizens caught onto this idea and screamed for banning the BBC, who it just so happens recently released a savage report detailing the horrors that go on in Xinjiang concentration camps. So detached from reality are these brave nationalists sat behind their computer screens that they conveniently forgot the BBC has been blocked since 2018.
There are two reasons this reaction should be of note. Firstly, they have inadvertently proved that the CGTN narrative has been controlled by the CCP this whole time. Indeed, by arguing the BBC is a conduit of the UK Government without any proof, it shows they are comfortable with that notion to begin with. This can’t be a surprise after President Xi Jinping in 2016 declared that the Chinese media’s ‘family name is the party’. He went onto undeniably showcase the fierce independence of the mainland's media by stating “They must love the party, protect the party, and closely align themselves with the party leadership in thought, politics and action.”.
The second reason this reaction is of note is it once more proves that we cannot trust the CCP to follow laws (including international ones) that don’t suit it. Many Chinese netizens pointed out that the UK is a democracy and as such should allow all opinions, otherwise we are hypocrites. Their reaction is almost funny for how sincere they genuinely hold the view that it’s OK for Chinese firms to operate as they wish in other countries, taking advantage of a democracy’s fundamental rights to freedom of speech, and yet, when we treat Chinese firms the way China treats our firms, they scream hypocrisy. The underlying emotion is one of “do as I say, not as I do”. The most worrying thing is that many of us in the West haven’t caught on to how this sits in the wider scheme of things. From entering the WTO to the building of islands in the South China Sea, rules made at an international level – or indeed local rules of impartiality - are ignored if it doesn’t suit the CCP’s needs.
This has been a long time coming. When Richard Nixon began the process of opening up to China in the 1970s, he was insistent, as he had been with Soviet relations, that reciprocity be the key to advancing ties. Without reciprocity, the CCP would be able to take take take without giving anything in return. That is what we have seen for many years now. From Chinese domestic markets where foreign firms must partner with local firms, transferring Intellectual Property despite no such rule existing the opposite way, to TV stations being allowed to say what they like in our country without the same courtesy being extended the other way. One twitter comment I saw yesterday suggested Ofcom cracking down on CGTN for the reason it chose would be the equivalent of arresting Al Capone and then choosing to only charge him with tax evasion.
Without Western nations making clear reciprocity is key to cordial relations in future, CCP controlled China will continue breaking whatever rules it likes. Worst of all, it knows it can get away with it by preying on our “weakness” of allowing differing views to exist in the first place. They understand us far more than we understand them, and they are using it to their advantage. Banning its one-sided propaganda mouthpiece should’ve been done years ago.