How Western media promotes color revolution: a case study of Hong Kong

By Shen Yi Source:Global Times Published: 2019/9/9 22:23:40

Photo: Xinhua

A color revolution live drama has been staged in Hong Kong since the summer of 2019, during which the media is making a profound impression. Some media outlets of Hong Kong and the West have fully played their role in agenda-setting and content control and have effectively shaped the information flow with both traditional and new media. A typical street riot has been packaged as a "nonviolent and noncooperation" movement and a democratic struggle, which is quite marketable in the West.

Those biased media outlets, with a gate-keeper's role in the color revolution are placing their audiences who trust them, themselves, and the political-socio-economic structure where they are located, into a dangerous information cocoon. Audiences in such a cocoon can only access information in line with a particular ideology and see the facts that have been filtered and tailored.

The special role of the media, in particular Western media, has deep historical origins. During the Cold War, mainstream Western media outlets voluntarily acted as watchdogs of national interest, selling Western liberal ideology to the Soviet bloc. They cooperated with Western countries' diplomatic and intelligence agencies to carry out covert subversive operations, a tacit operational mode.

Since the Cold War ended, the operation mechanism of color revolution, constituted by non-governmental organizations, transnational action networks, traditional media and new media, has played a role in instigating color revolutions in many countries and regions including Yugoslavia, Egypt, Libya and Syria.

The collusion between hegemonic powers and media oligarchies has played a crucial role in this process. For hegemonic country, the voluntary cooperation between traditional and new media, especially in information screening and content censorship, has provided strategic support to its diplomatic strategy. For media oligarchies, joining hands with hegemonic power can help with their expansion in the global media market. Such collusion mechanism is subtle, sophisticated, and dangerous.

Related media outlets have fully demonstrated the possible operation modes during the unrest in Hong Kong.

First, Western media reports have filtered facts. In the street riots, Western reporters stood on the side of the mobs, oriented the lens to the desired direction and then released the videos or pictures via media platforms, creating a filtered information environment, in which all published information has been censored. Social media platform owners cooperate with such censorship, under political pressure and ideological requirements from European countries and the US. 

Second, the report, analysis and commentary by traditional Western media outlets or social media focus on filtered facts, instead of what is actually happening. Those who set the criteria for filtering the facts collaborate to tell stories based on selected information. Publishing on monopolized media platforms, the subjective information has been reported and broadcast as "objective, rational and neutral."

Third, these media collaborate with agents to constantly seize and increase their political influence. After the Cold War, Western mainstream media outlets have made efforts to repeatedly promote and spread the color revolution in non-Western regions, so as to expand, intensify and consolidate their own discourse power. These efforts stem from the continued demands of monopolized media oligarchies to make profits. Unscrupulous scholars and irresponsible media outlets have volunteered to be agents of European countries and the US, in order to pursue their short-term profits. 

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who lectured the world on so-called "internet freedom," tweeted on August 13 that "May we all stand in solidarity with the people of Hong Kong as they speak out for democracy, freedom from repression, and a world they long to see." A netizen responded that "No please. Last time you stand with solidarity with others, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen… all of them burned to the ground."

It is crucial to wake up from the dreams created by the Western mainstream media. The practice of these media actively participating in the color revolution will eventually be discarded by history. This tendency cannot be stopped by any forces.

The author is director at the Research Center for Cyberspace Governance, Fudan University.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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