As if the supply of anti-China disinformation has exceeded the demand in the US, the American government decided to blow federal money to export it. On February 4, the US House of Representatives greenlighted the America COMPETES Act, in which a sum of 500 million dollars was allotted to "produce journalism for overseas audiences that is critical of China," according to American Prospect, a US-based magazine.
The move appears to be dangerous and desperate but not at all unforeseeable. It just marks a crescendo of the US' unrelenting and undisguised smear campaign against China. For years, the US has concocted piles of erroneous reports and made numerous groundless accusations. Negative coverage of China, at the tip of its disinformation iceberg, is merely news—it's a 24/7, all-season regular program that takes bias and negativity as its unchanging formula.
To better understand the nature of America's slanted portraits of China, let's dig deep into the different tones and rhetoric recently adopted by US politicians and media outlets when it comes to similar issues.
Take the "Freedom Convoy" protest in Canada first. As a convoy of angry truckers crammed onto the roadway to blockade a key US-Canada border bridge and occupied the city center of Ottawa, this was what media from its neighboring country had to say: "By illegally occupying streets in downtown Ottawa, it has upended daily life in a city of 1 million people," a Washington Post editorial wrote. CNN cited a portfolio of polls and pinpointed that "a strong majority of Canadians oppose convoy protests."
But bear in mind that roughly three years ago, when rioters jammed onto the main streets of China's Hong Kong, a city that is home to over 7 million people, vandalizing public facilities and wreaking havoc on the entire society, the same American media outlets joined forces to justify the barbaric riots as "peaceful protests," in total disregard of the daily life of Hong Kong residents (or did they really care?).
Another moment of American-style hypocrisy manifested itself when Amnesty International published an "apartheid" report on February 1. A report that is written by several "experts" and published by a "famed" international organization— should such a publication contain anything critical of China, the US media will go full steam ahead to manufacture thousands of pages of "convictions". But this time around the subject matter in that report is focused on Israel—one of America's closest allies. This article will not discuss the authoritativeness of that report. But just let's have a look at how the US side has since reacted. Following the release of the report, dozens of US legislators slammed it as "biased," "baseless" or "racist." The Wall Street Journal penned a lengthy editorial to denounce the report as "slander" and a distortion of history, while the New York Times, which has been vocal on the issue and adept at citing such reports, didn't publish a single word on the report. However, such indignation and "self-censorship" only happen when US allies are involved.
After Adrian Zenz fabricated his fraudulent and groundless "Xinjiang report," US politicians and media outlets thronged together onto a self-stylized moral high ground. To blackwash a place that they only "surveyed" in the false report and pretend to care about a group of people they speak of only when it permits attacking China, they won't hesitate a second to deploy their hatred-rooted, bias-driven diction and labels.
[Special Coverage: Rediscovering Xinjiang]
Bias and bigotry have reached their peak in American media's slanted coverage of COVID-19. From the efficacy of China's COVID-19 vaccines to the effectiveness of China's epidemic control methods—never minding the lab leak conspiracy these people fabricated to frame up China in vain—they appear to have willfully set aside what little ethics they have and all of their objectivity when covering any issues pertaining to China.
Every time China has achieved a milestone in its vaccination drive or donated a batch of its vaccines, the America-first media squad never once forgot to mention that Made-in-China vaccines are "inferior" or that China's vaccine donations were tantamount to nothing more than "vaccine diplomacy." But when COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates kept climbing on American soil even among previously vaccinated people, they blamed it on breakthrough cases. Through their gloomy lens, China's zero-COVID-19 strategy seems like a mess; and a dozen cases in China appear to be "destructive." Even when China kept infections at bay while holding the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games during a global PANDEMIC, the US media peddlers somehow managed to lend their criticism: the Games, they said, were "joyless."
While the US adopted a negative stance on China's use of an Olympics "bubble" (a.k.a. its closed-loop epidemic management system), isn't the US creating and living in its own anti-China disinformation "bubble" where objectivity is absent, and where biases and Sinophobia flourish.
Some US politicians and media might be willing to dwell indefinitely within this kind of negative environment filled with anti-China propaganda, and by allocating half a billion dollars in the course they are officially making it a business. One Reddit user commented satirically as quoted in the American Prospect article, openly expressing opposition to the US government's policies: "Propaganda to get the people to support war and the war machine! [A] Perfect way to spend our tax dollars!"
But living in a toxic political space always has consequences. In a society brimming with disinformation and misinformation, how can the public find its moral compass in a time of crisis? When American media and US politicians spend more time, energy, and resources on slamming another country's COVID-19 vaccines and epidemic control methods while frequently boosting conspiracy theories, they have also fostered the "Frankenstein" side of the American crowd to attack the COVID-19 vaccines and restrictions deployed by their own country.
Also, when the US is staging a relentless smear campaign against China, the entire Asian community has borne the brunt of the targeted hatred in American society. A recent report from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism has found that anti-Asian hate crimes surged 339% in 2021, adding to the 150% hike that already occurred in 2020. By funding a campaign of badmouthing China and the country's people, the US will not only blur the line between objective news coverage and pro-American propaganda but will also obscure the limits between reality and falsehood, which risks reinforcing racism and bigotry that are already deep-rooted in the US.