New York Times smashed for double standards on lockdown tweets

By Wan Lin and Xu Keyue Published: 2020/3/12 22:29:25

Prison officers stand guard after an ambulance (rear) entered the Sant'Anna prison during a protest from inmates' relatives in Modena, Emilia-Romagna, in one of Italy's quarantine red zones on Monday. Inmates in four Italian prisons have revolted over new rules introduced to contain the coronavirus outbreak, leaving one prisoner dead and others injured, a prison rights group said on Saturday. Photo: AFP

The New York Times's contradictory comments on the lockdown policies of China and Italy sparked criticism among Chinese netizens, in which it labelled China's epidemic prevention measures infringements on personal liberties while deeming Italy's move to risk its economy as "brave." 

On Sunday, the New York Times reported on its twitter platform about the lockdown situation in various Italian regions, saying the action is "risking its economy in an effort to contain Europe's worst coronavirus outbreak." The post showed a different stance from its other tweet 20 minutes ago that claimed the lockdown in China "came at great cost for its people's livelihoods and personal liberties."

The biased coverage quickly drew attention and provoked anger among netizens on social media. 

In a survey on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo, more than 6,200 respondents as of Thursday agreed that the contradictory viewpoints the newspaper has held on similar measures imposed by China and Italy is a shameful double standard. 

The New York Times' post regarding Italy's lockdown measures received more than 1,600 retweets, with critics flooding in and slashing its big shift in attitude from its other tweet about the same policy in China.

Shen Yi, an expert from Fudan University, told the Global Times on Thursday that such double standards reflect a tendency of the New York Times to always take sides in their reporting based on ideological motivations.

"It is hypocritical and arrogant for the newspaper to prefer highlighting the positive points in the reports of countries who have a similar ideology to them but criticize those who don't on the same issue," said Shen.

By doing so, Shen noted, the newspaper can redirect readers' attention from the belated preventative measures of Western countries to the judgement of China's epidemic control policies and even political institutions. 

The epidemic challenges global health and safety as the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic on Thursday. The media discussion at this moment should be about how to effectively curb the spread of the disease that threatens millions of people's lives, not about the political institutions or economic indicators, said Shen. 

A total of 15 new cases were reported in China on Wednesday with 8 in epidemic-stricken Wuhan, capital of Central China's Hubei Province. Among the other seven cases outside Hubei, six are imported, according to Chinese authorities. 

Meanwhile, as of Thursday, more than 45,000 cases have been reported outside China. The number was 37,371 on Wednesday, according to the World Health Organization. 

China has been sharing its month-long experience and exchanging information regarding COVID-19 containment with the world, yet various Western media outlets like the New York Times seem to be more focused on smearing and denying China's efforts to protect people's lives, which, Shen believed, in no way helps with epidemic prevention and control around the world. 

"I hope they cover the epidemic fight in the US and other Western countries as they do in China," he said.


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