By Irfan Shahzad Takalvi
There certainly is a method in this madness. It is obvious. Vilify China, malign the country, its institutions and beyond that its very people, is the ostensible objective.
China’s ban on airing of BBC World has generated a lot of debate in recent days. Prior to that, however, the UK had also banned airing of CGTN. Yet, it was not only a tit-for-tat decision on part of Beijing.
Global media’s especially BBC’s reporting on China in general as well as Hong Kong and Xinjiang in particular need to be understood in proper context. What has been reported about Xinjiang, specially, is devoid of required journalistic standards of fact-fullness and transparency. It amounts to slander. It is based on flimsy and in some cases out-rightly concocted ‘evidence’. In case of origin of COVID-19 and China’s response to pandemic as well, facts have been twisted, situation has been angled to give a certain, preconceived message.
Add to it the reports about situation in Hong Kong – where those vandalizing public and private properties and putting thousands of lives in danger are promoted as ‘heroes of democracy. One can easily decipher that this falls drastically short of standards and level of journalism expected from a media houses of global repute. Impartiality is lacking.
Why so? My understanding is that it is out of desperation. This is not limited to any one major Western media house but some indeed are doing it with noted intensity. As mentioned above, anti-Chinese ‘reporting’ is a common thread of propaganda that runs through almost all the media in the West. The objective is to demonize China, to present China in a negative light, to falsely show China as a nation that has no regard for rights of people, including its own.
This desperation is a result of failing to digest China’s miraculous peaceful rise, and in recent months, failure to digest China’s splendid successful effort against pandemic. It is aimed at creating an image of China that ignites doubts in the minds of people in increasing numbers of countries that are flocking to China as partners of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Xinjiang, again, is an example worth mentioning. Xinjiang, undoubtedly, is bridge between China and the Muslim World – more so between China and Pakistan. What the West is trying to do is to turn this bridge into a wall. Western media is serving as the vanguard in this attack, in the form of misinformation and disinformation. That is how BRI, and its flagship projects such as CPEC, are being targeted – for sabotage.
The reality is that Xinjiang of today is a peaceful, fast developing, increasingly open region of China. I have had chances to visit Xinjiang a number of times over past about 13 years, repeatedly. I have met people of all ethnic backgrounds and all walks of life. It would not be an overstatement to say that Xinjiang’s people are living happy, content lives.
Yes, there may always a segment of society in every country which is never happy with their government and state’s policies. No country and region is an exception, and so may be Xinjiang of China. But one has to talk about the majority. My own direct observation is that 99.9% of people are happy being the citizen’s of a rising global power; they are confident about the way their nation is developing continuously and their lives are being transformed, towards the better.
Let us make no mistake that the way China has dealt with extremism and terrorism has brought peace and stability not only to Xinjiang, but it has also contributed positively to peace and stability in the whole region of Central and west Asia. Furthermore, vocational training and educational centers – what the Western media so falsely labels as ‘camps’ – have changed the lives of thousands – if not hundreds of thousands of families towards better. While reporting about Xinjiang, Western media so conveniently and unprofessionally highlight the concocted stories of few individuals whose sole purpose is to garner undue sympathies, seek asylum and get visas – so on and so forth. And it is not limited to Western media alone: the same we see increasingly elsewhere.
It is a professional duty of independent and impartial media that China’s story – be it response to pandemic or effective de-radicalization, anti-terror and anti-extremism policies – is reported that way it exactly is. Importantly, how China’s policies contribute towards regional and global peace, stability and development must be told. Transformation of people’s lives, and their socio-economic development, particularly in Xinjiang, should be reported about as those actually are. Examples of inter-ethnic harmony must be shown to the world. China’s transnational development and connectivity initiatives that are making hugely positive impact on the lives of partner countries must be reflected to the world.
The author is founding president of Eurasian Century Institute (ECI), Islamabad, which also runs a center dedicatedly studying Xinjiang. He may be accessed at firstname.lastname@example.org