By Gao Jian (Global Times, 5 April 2020) – As the novel coronavirus is spreading rapidly in Europe and the US, China, which is walking out of its epidemic plight, is providing necessary supplies and medical assistance based on the spirit of humanitarianism.
But what is astonishing is that some Western media, instead of supervising their governments to effectively tackle the outbreak, deliberately slander China and maliciously interpret China’s goodwill. Some labelled China’s assistance as a “geopolitical weapon” and accused China of taking advantage of the plight other nations are facing to save its tainted reputation caused by an alleged mishandling of the epidemic.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, Western media’s coverage of China’s viral fight has gone beyond our understanding of journalistic ethics, the most extreme case being the Wall Street Journal using the term the “sick man of Asia” to ridicule the Chinese people who were engulfed in the viral fight. We cannot help but ask, in such a civilized era as today, why do the media from the so-called “civilized” nations behave so brutally? Is this the brutal right that their so-called freedom of speech bestows upon them?
The smear tactics and slandering of China by some Western media outlets are a reflection of anxieties in the mind of the Western elite. To their dismay, the once impoverished China is rising fast, and another cruel fact is that the social governance in developed Western countries can hardly fit the dire epidemic situation. When Western media cannot explain how China has made a U-turn during the outbreak in a rational manner, they prefer to resort to ignorance and slander.
Unfortunately for them, anxiety cannot morph into the miracle drug to combat the crisis, and slander is not the vaccine for the virus. If people in the West and their countries’ establishments only wish to pass the buck to other countries, it will only lead them down a wrong path. We witnessed that in Britain and the US, tens of thousands of volunteers and retired medical staff went to the frontline of their countries’ anti-viral fight, the kind move of which shows the powerful spirit of a nation.
Some believe the media must be endowed with freedom of speech, which is a standard feature of a civilized society. But it does not mean media can make up news without investigating or proper research, nor does it mean that media can hurt a nation’s sentiment with little respect for morality. This is only for civilizations littered with savagery if they commit such acts.
There is no denying that media play a vital role in participating in social and public life and construct social discourse. But in this globalized era with developed internet technology, if a public media outlet smears a country and its people who are trying to lend a helping hand, where does its social credibility and public value lie in? Its only function left is to incite confrontational sentiment and mislead people, thus bringing their nation or country to the edge of a cliff.
The author is a scholar at Shanghai International Studies University. [email protected]