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Beijing Wishes Away Hamas Terrorism
The moral repugnancy of neutrality
To kick it off, we have the official statement from the foreign ministry, which sets the tone for the “neutralism” that fails to even acknowledge the mass terrorism suffered in Israel over the weekend.
Compare to the moral clarity you saw out of the “Quint”:
Next, I want to excerpt Phil Cunningham, who writes a very entertaining daily Substack exploring the weirdness of China’s flagship thirty-minute nightly news show, Xinwen Lianbo 新闻联播. See below for some selections from his coverage of Oct 9.
The key takeaway:
In a slanted editorial pattern that is well-established on CCTV based on its daily Ukraine coverage — Kremlin-curated footage and pro-Kremlin editorializing is followed by one or two out-of-focus shots of Ukraine and then quickly jumps to shots of US military equipment while condemning US and NATO as the root cause — you can plainly see China play sides.
After opening with a long, sympathetic, clearly-filmed report from the side China favors, there is a short, incoherent, lackluster report about the side China disfavors and then slam, bang, it’s all the fault of the US anyway.
Here it manifests itself with the opening segment in Gaza showing all the horrible destruction caused by Israel as related from a jaded Palestinian point of view (they bomb ambulances, don’t they?) followed by a muddled report on Israel which is in turn followed by a quick jump to the fearsome US Navy and Air Force and its meddling military might.
The foreign news on Xinwen Lianbo on Monday evening in China opens with a first-hand report from inside Gaza by a Palestinian journalist specially contracted to work for CCTV. The segment is introduced with a noisy bang and the Israel bombing footage seen below. Israeli military have bombed scores of office blocks and apartment buildings here…
Emergency rescue vehicles affiliated with a hospital under the Health Ministry…
…were also victims of targeted strikes…
And now for some belated background.
CCTV mentions that Hamas fired some rockets…
The massive surprise rocket attack is not denied but made to look trivial on CCTV as it is reduced to wispy jet-trails.
(There is no footage of the carnage that followed. Zero coverage of Israeli suffering, let alone dead or wounded. No coverage of the Hamas terror rampage or the decimation of an outdoor dance party where 200 revelers were shot in cold blood.)
Quoting a Hamas-affiliated spokesman, the news reader announces that the armed wing of Hamas struck several places, including near Ben Gurion airport and the southern town of Ashkelon.
(As far as I can tell, the bullet smashed window and a bombed building are the only shots showing damage on the Israeli side of border.)
The USS Ford aircraft carrier, shown in file footage below, is en route to the Eastern Mediterranean. CCTV appears to take great interest in this matter.
Finally, a look at Xinwen Lianbo’s partners in the print world. Xinhua enjoys the same authoritative news status as CCTV’s Xinwen Lianbo, while China Daily has an important diplomatic role to play in fielding external propaganda.
Mirroring the China first priorities of today’s TV news (the report on Gaza and Israel was buried near the thirty-minute mark at the bottom of a long series of slush stories in the video news pile), Xinhua and China Daily portray the conflagration in the Middle East as a minor sideshow. Minor though it might be, China does address it, portraying itself as the lighthouse of clarity, compassion, and peace while the West is divided by the issue.
Some of the same prevailing prejudices and the not-so-subtle playing of sides is evident in the state print media as well.
The print reports are more journalistically credible than the Xinwen Lianbo report in the sense that they at least minimally acknowledge the cause and effect of the Hamas “surprise attack” coming first, followed by Israel bombing strikes, whereas CCTV creates the airy illusion that Israel just starting bombing Gaza to smithereens out of nowhere for no particular reason (and targeting emergency vehicles) because that’s what Israel does.
If there is a slight editorial shift in today’s print news, it seems to favor statements from the Palestian authority in the West Bank rather than Hamas in Gaza.
Of course the Chinese state media is quick to put the olive branch of peace in its own hands, and the hands of its crony fellow authoritarians such as Russia, Columbia in their “deeply concerned” calls for “peace.” Furthermore, the article can’t resist mentioning that along with the US, China’s regional nemesis India and some unnamed European countries (you know who you are) back Israel.
For more, check out the Substack below.
From the Global Times article — this sort of lecturing two days after the attack is really something.
Here’s what an alternate timeline could have looked like…
Finally, Thomas des Garets Geddes of the excellent newsletter Sinification concludes with a roundup of Chinese think tankers’ views which also fail to grapple with the scale of Hamas’s killings.
China’s official response to Hamas’s recent attack on Israel has been to condemn “acts that harm civilians” and “that escalate the conflict and destabilise the region”, while re-emphasising the need to “restart the peace talks” and “implement the two-state solution”.
Today’s edition is a lightly edited translation of a commentary by Niu Xinchun (牛新春), director of the Institute of Middle East Studies at China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR) – a particularly influential think tank linked to China’s Ministry of State Security. For those of you who may wish to dig a little deeper, I have recommended six further reactions from Chinese analysts at the end of this post.
For more, see his Substack here: