Attacks on Xi’an lockdown show Western media ignorance, ruthlessness
Published: Jan 26, 2022 06:36 PM
Illustration:Chen Xia/GT

Illustration:Chen Xia/GT

On January 25, Xi'an, capital city of Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, lifted a month-long lockdown, with the lives and work for more than 12 million people going back to normal. Thanks to the joint efforts of thousands of medical and grassroots community workers, the total number of confirmed cases was kept around 2,000 with zero COVID-19 deaths in this outbreak.
Why were there zero deaths in Xi'an at a time when COVID-19 was spreading globally and causing increasing death tolls? One should not dodge this question in order to understand the real China.  

Unfortunately, what we are seeing now is a great deal of coverage in the Western media focusing exclusively on the problems and inconveniencies, caused by the lockdown. 
There are certainly problems that come with a lockdown for a large city like Xi'an. What's more important, however, is how the local government has addressed these problems and is learning lessons to better implement the dynamic zero-COVID policy. These factors are part of a comprehensive and accurate understanding of China. 

But reading Western media coverage, people would probably feel very pessimistic, as if Xi'an was in a catastrophe, which runs counter to the fact. 

Obviously, the coverage was based on the established position and by reporters who decided to target the Chinese political system when writing about Xi'an or China. As a result, they're tied to a carefully selected narrative and even becoming rumormongers. 

The New York Times article titled "The Army of Millions Who Enforce China's Zero-COVID Policy, at All Costs" is a case in point. The author misinterpreted China's dynamic zero-COVID policy as "no outbreak at all" and then targeted Chinese grassroots community workers who are actively fighting the epidemic to attack the Chinese political system. 
This NYT article was accused by many Chinese netizens of using the most vicious words, "the banality of evil," to attack China. This usage compares the Chinese people's support for the epidemic control policy which has protected the lives of thousands of ordinary people to German civilians' participation in the Holocaust during the Nazi era. 

 It also shows Western media outlets' ignorance and rudeness toward China. They have already lost the basic moral and ethical values.

When it comes to Western reports that make predictions about China's economy last year, their ignorance was even to the point of absurdity. Just look at some examples. "China's economic miracle is ending," reads a Forbes report title in May 2021. "The slow meltdown of the Chinese economy," entitled the Wall Street Journal in December 2021. "China's Lehman Brothers moment," entitled The Guardian in September 2021.

These reports are not only the reporters' estimations, but also quote the judgment and analysis of economists. But the fact that China's GDP grew by 8.1 percent last year strongly refutes these claims.

Many Westerners, who have long viewed China based on political ideas developed during the Cold War, cannot understand the current situation which, according to their logic, is a sure sign of regression and turmoil. The Western media not only uses this same logic when reporting on China, it even tries to meet the psychological expectation of their audience by cherry-picking facts. Such interactions end up amplifying many of China's problems and popularizing many absurd predictions about the country.

In the aforementioned New York Times report, the authors seem to have intentionally chosen the term "The Banality of Evil". The crudeness of applying a term highlighting the psychology of Nazi butchers to their analysis and judgment of China, unintentionally reveals the psychology a nation standing on a pulpit. What they do not realize is that the foundation of the pulpit has crumbled beneath their feet. 

The author is a senior editor with People's Daily, and currently a senior fellow with the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China. dinggang@globaltimes.com.cn. Follow him on Twitter @dinggangchina