Why doesn't the Wall Street Journal have the courage to apologize?

By Ling Shengli Source:Global Times Published: 2020/2/18 13:23:40

Photo: IC

It has been more than two weeks since the Wall Street Journal published an article titled "China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia." There have been repeated criticisms, and the number of people who signed petitions on the White House's We the People website, asking for a proper apology from the paper, has far exceeded 100,000. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson has also demanded a public apology from the paper. But the Wall Street Journal still has not apologized, nor has it taken any actions to correct the mistake. It continues to adhere to its arrogance and prejudice. 

Using the phrase "real sick man of Asia" has revealed the Wall Street Journal's deep-seated racial discrimination, which is a clear contradiction of the values of freedom and equality promoted by the US. In the US, citizens of different races are supposed to enjoy equal rights and be treated with equal respect. Racial discrimination is not only politically incorrect, it runs contrary to social morality and the universally accepted code of conduct. In a barefaced attempt to grab people's attention, the editors of the Wall Street Journal have nailed themselves to the pillar of shame.

Today, the US is a country of diverse ethnic groups, and their integration has assured US prosperity. Chinese Americans have contributed tremendously to the US development for well over 150 years. For the more than 5 million Chinese Americans who currently live in the US, such racial discrimination exhibited by the Wall Street Journal is clearly unacceptable. Such reckless comments against innocent Chinese citizens will only encourage racism and incur repercussions against Chinese or other Asian ethnicities. 

For a rising, major country like China, the insulting headline hurts the self-esteem of Chinese people who are rightfully seeking national rejuvenation. Chinese people are now fighting the novel coronavirus pneumonia, and Wall Street Journal's remarks sound like gloating, and they disgust Chinese people. Using a disease or disaster to insult others shows a shameful lack of compassion and conscience.

The US boasts freedom of the press, but this doesn't mean there are no limits. There have been incidents of racial discrimination in the news media throughout history, and the results have, without exception, had a huge negative impact. In terms of professionalism in the news media, the insulting headline over the WSJ article is exceedingly shocking. As an internationally influential newspaper, such a nasty mistake is alarming. However, the newspaper has adopted an ostrich head-in-the-sand policy and has not provided a positive response to criticism. 

Despite more than 100,000 Chinese signing the White House petition demanding an apology, the newspaper still turns a blind eye and continues to fully display its arrogance and prejudice.

The offensive WSJ's headline has triggered a public uproar in China and China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has demanded an apology several times. On February 6, Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the article's author, Walter Russell Mead, should be "ashamed of your words, your arrogance, your prejudice and your ignorance." On February 10, Spokesman Geng Shuang said the Chinese side has lodged stern representation with the WSJ.

"China asks the WSJ to squarely face the severity of its mistake, make a public apology, and hold the persons involved accountable. However, what the WSJ has been doing since then is nothing but paltering,"Geng said.

So far the WSJ continues to play a game of words, claiming that its news department and opinion department do not interfere in each other. Even after realizing its mistakes it dare not apologize, is this because of arrogance and capriciousness or a lack of courage?

The media should pursue fair and objective reporting and safeguard basic human morality. Obviously, such a racially discriminatory headline is complete mistaken. No argument cannot change this fact. Failure to acknowledge this mistake is unreasonable, and not rectifying it is unforgivable.  

Obviously, the WSJ should realize that it has made a stupid mistake. However, it still refuses to apologize and squarely face up to the error, let alone shoulder the responsibility of a respected news outlet.

The author is director of the International Security Research Center of China Foreign Affairs University. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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