Monitoring of the global media space shows that since the beginning of this year, a comprehensive information war has unfolded against the PRC. The headlines and content of the leading Western media reflect their obvious bias and politicized anti-Chinese orientation. The content of the information flow in China has been changing for several months, but the unconstructive and critical tone remains.

The Center for the Study of China reviewed the editorials of popular media in the United States and Western Europe – the topic of Chinese propaganda to improve the image of the People’s Republic of China has been on the front pages for a month now. It is clear that the growing second economy has been criticized for a long time from various Western tribunes. However, the current campaign has exposed all the hysteria and double standards in the work of the Western media. Why this topic is important for Kazakhstan: apparently, all the partners of the PRC can also go further under the information blow, and therefore it is advisable to understand what can be expected.

What results can be summed up from a brief review of Western media?

1. China was the first to defeat the coronavirus epidemic – this was recognized internationally, but this outcome is not politically appropriate for Western countries.

Chinese progress in healthcare against the background of COVID-19 is a generally recognized fact, not an ideological fiction of the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO and other international organizations have publicly praised China’s measures against the epidemic. Observers noted that after that, the tone of a number of Western media changed from criticism to describing the Chinese experience as an example to use. This provoked a wave of suspicions that China is paying international media for this propaganda.

As a result, today popular Western media directly accuse China (and Iran and Russia along with it) of allegedly “using various propaganda tools to improve its international image and present its authoritarian system as more prepared to overcome the crisis.”

By the way, here we can assume that the recognition of success cost WHO US funding of $ 400 million. Trump apparently took great offense at the recognition of the Chinese victory over COVID-19 by this international structure. Although, for example, the popular American publication “Business Insider” concludes that ” in trying to cut funding for WHO in the face of a devastating pandemic, President Trump has provided significant propaganda support to US rivals such as Russia, China and Iran.” Trump’s methods, apparently, have the opposite effect.

In particular, it can be suggested that Trump and his administration were very much hurt by the fact that the first winners of the epidemic were not the United States, i.e. the ambitious principle of “America first” does not work.
There is total chaos on the American domestic agenda today with 709 thousand infected people (at the time of preparing the material) and there is no end in sight yet.
Moreover, the conflict between Washington and the United States on actions against the epidemic is growing in the United States, Trump has an increased risk of losing in November this year. Therefore, the global shift of attention to the PRC is tactically very beneficial for Trump now in order to distract the domestic audience from his failures (the question is whether this will help him?).

In response to Trump’s actions against the WHO, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, has already stated: “this is an example of an ineffective reaction of the president, and it says that “a weak person, a bad leader does not bear any responsibility. A weak person blames others.” Such a decision of the president is dangerous, illegal and will be quickly challenged.” Most likely, these actions of Trump will still have an impact during the November campaign.

2. Western countries are now in a critical situation, and the PRC, on the contrary, is actively sharing medical experience and providing humanitarian assistance.

Apparently, the West does not like this very much. Well, there is something not to like here – since the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic in other countries, China has offered its assistance to more than 120 states and international organizations. Assistance is provided in the form of supplies of protective equipment, medicines, tests for the detection of COVID-19 and medical equipment. China makes about half of the world’s mask production – more than 110 million masks per day.

The PRC provides expert support, shares technologies for the treatment and control of the epidemic, and has also sent groups of experts to such countries as Italy, Kazakhstan, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Cambodia, Malaysia, Laos, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Ethiopia, etc. Video conferences are regularly held with specialists around the world, including with EU countries.

Apparently, such a scale and activity of international assistance amazes the imagination of Western political circles, who order information attacks on the topic: today, China will do everything possible to absolve itself of the blame for the coronavirus epidemic. But is the provision of humanitarian assistance a measure of reputational rehabilitation?

In the American and European media, China is accused of positioning itself as “a responsible power capable of resisting the most severe natural disasters, as well as using this experience to help other countries fight the coronavirus.”

The Kazakhstan Center for the Study of China in this publication is not engaged in protecting the image of China (this country is able to defend its own interests), the question is raised here in fairness: is this not the case in reality? Wasn’t China the first to cope with the epidemic and isn’t sharing this experience with others?

In general, if Western propaganda is actively sticking the label “Chinese” to the COVID-19 coronavirus, then why does it not recognize that advanced methods of treating this unknown infection are also “Chinese” and, accordingly, this will be “a sign of the effectiveness of medicine and science in the PRC”. Double standards are back on the face…

3. An incomprehensible situation is being created – why, if China has really managed to curb the COVID-19 epidemic, can it not tell the whole world about it?

At the same time, if Western countries were the first to manage to curb the pandemic, then it would be “ringing out of every iron”to the whole world. Now Western media would shoot reports all over the world, interview “heroes”, give someone a Nobel Prize, shoot hundreds of TV series and movies with action-packed scripts, write books (and again give the Pulitzer Prize, for example), numerous forums and conferences would be held. And as a result, the whole planet would have learned about it and would have remembered it for another 50 years.

However, as soon as China tried to tell about its success – it was immediately attacked in the traditional Western style: “this is propaganda paid for with Chinese money!!!” “The Chinese want to avoid responsibility for the epidemic!!!”. And is anyone responsible, for example, for global influenza epidemics, new types of which appear every year?

And wait, but doesn’t the media and PR market of the West work on the principle of “any whim for your money”? CNN, Forbes, BBC, WSJ, The New York Times, DW and others are also sold to any propaganda (and if the country is “inconvenient”, then the price tag simply becomes higher, because the risks for the media are more tangible). Therefore, if there is a supply, then there will be a demand.

What does the current situation reflect?

First of all, these are strict double standards – you can tell some people about your successes, others can’t. However, such approaches do not work much anymore, and it is no longer possible to simply ignore Asia – Asian countries are regaining their influence, as it was historically, it’s just that China is on the front flank and therefore all the “bigwigs” from Western competitors are flying directly into it.

Further, the nervous reaction on the part of the “Western propaganda machine” reflects the emotional mood of the ruling circles of Western countries. This is understandable, because the pandemic, which was not predicted by anyone, unexpectedly highlighted all the systemic problems of the seemingly “ideal” Western world. But it turns out that democracy is not an ideal form of political structure for all times (the death rate from COVID-19 is in practice higher in democratic countries, this is not propaganda, but statistics).

And the economic models of Western countries also turned out to be unprepared for the crisis (which did not come from traditional risky sectors like energy, financial bubbles, etc. where Western analysts usually expect them from). And Western health systems (where the most difficult cases were sent for treatment for a long time) – in fact, they turned out to be overestimated “bubbles” or simply inaccessible to the majority of the population (then democracy does not give the declared equality of opportunities?). In the coming years, political science will probably experience another boom in research on political systems and their effectiveness.

In general, if China had really underestimated the situation in January of this year and failed to cope with the crisis – then all the border countries around the PRC (including Kazakhstan) would have felt the impact of COVID-19. Since the first days after the announcement of the epidemic, Kazakhstan has been closely monitoring China’s actions and was preparing to take similar measures in its practice.

This largely gave the opportunity to the team of President K.Tokayev was able to mobilize the state relatively quickly and take control of the epidemiological situation (without this, most likely, the crisis would have been very acute). Isn’t that a fact?

Today, China is actively helping Kazakhstan and many other countries-not only with reciprocal humanitarian support,but also with proven treatment methods. The recent visit of a group of Chinese doctors had a significant impact on the introduction of new practices for the detection of COVID-19 and treatment of coronavirus pneumonia in the Republic of Kazakhstan (the advice of doctors from China on respiratory rehabilitation will be included in the National Clinical Protocol for the Diagnosis and Treatment of a new type of coronavirus).

But apparently any constructive message in the media about such a necessary cooperation for our country now will be perceived by the biased Western media as Chinese propaganda.

Some interesting materials on the topic:…/opinion/china-coronavirus-propaga…/how-chinese-propaganda-is-r…/a-52796337…/china-steps-up-western-media-…/coronavirus-cnn-chinese-propagan…/…/Coronavirus-sheds-light-on-China-…/le-coronavirus-declasse-l-occiden

China Studies Centre,

Nur-Sultan, 2020

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