Failed attack campaign against Winter Olympics shows incompetence of US government
Published: Jan 27, 2022 05:42 PM
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Sergey Naryshkin, director of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, stated on January 18 that the US Department of State was engaged in a concerted campaign of exerting allies, NGOs and media to "aggressively and maliciously interfere in the preparation process for the Beijing Olympics" and "discredit the organizers" by pushing negative coverage. There have been multiple angles in this campaign: including publicizing claims that the official app for the event was compromised on a security level, claiming athletes would be subject to espionage and therefore shouldn't bring their normal mobile devices, attacking China's zero-COVID policies as being too arbitrary, and ramping up propaganda targeting the country over the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

The agenda is clear: To ensure that the Winter Olympics amounts to an outright political humiliation for China and that the country is not able to procure any gains in prestige by hosting the event, but instead suffers through an onslaught of non-stop negative publicity designed to give legitimacy to boycotts and further harden public opinion in the West against it and public opinion in support of more Anti-China policies. All of which are part of a process known as "manufacturing consent." This is the same public opinion war against China that the US has waged since 2019. Xinjiang has been the primary focus of this war, which is designed to incite hostility, negative emotions and discouragement of engagement with China under the claim of "genocide." Major news institutions such as the BBC are also culpable and actively taking a lead in this effort. 

Yet, this ramp-up is recent. From July to the end of November, the Biden administration effectively put its China policy on hold. Coinciding with the crisis of Afghanistan, the White House sought to stabilize the relationship with Beijing whilst they configured their own priorities. In conjunction with this, mainstream media coverage on Xinjiang stopped almost entirely throughout this period. If one looks at the BBC's coverage, they published 51 articles pushing attacks over Xinjiang (amounting to nearly one per week), yet for the months of August, September and October, the number reduced significantly. For the beginning of the year, it is worth noting there was a very aggressive push in line with consolidating Biden's own entrance into the White House and the build-up to coordinated sanctions, the goal being to exert opposition to China in Europe and block the Comprehensive Investment Agreement (CAI). 

It was following the period of silence in the summer, and then the Xi-Biden summit, that the US then flipped back into ramping up hostility against China with the means of discrediting the Winter Olympics. Just weeks after the summit, the "Uyghur Tribunal" - a Kangaroo Court publicity stunt citing dubious experts and witnesses, coincidentally declared its result. This was then followed by a new round of blacklisting of Chinese companies, the passing of the "Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act" which banned all imports from Xinjiang on the assumption all were produced by "forced labor" and then the declaration of diplomatic boycotts. In line with this, industrial-scale negative coverage of China has resumed, all with the goal of delegitimizing the Winter Olympics as much as possible. 

Of particular note is how the BBC used its "BBC Sport" division (a section which by its own standards ought to be completely impartial and apolitical) to push pro-Boycott propaganda related to Xinjiang. As one particularly disturbing example, on January 14, it gave a platform to anti-China basketball player "Enes Kanter Freedom" and led with a headline: "Beijing 2022: Enes Kanter Freedom urges athletes to boycott Winter Olympics". The article subsequently then began to push allegations against Xinjiang, including making the completely false statement that the "UK government had declared a genocide" in the region (only a handful of low mark MPs did). This marks a disturbing blend between sports coverage and political broadcasting, showing how the broadcaster is complicit in manufacturing consent, using the Winter Olympics against China.

In summary, the campaign against the Winter Olympics is relentless. It is deliberate, political and coordinated. As the event approaches, it is bound to get worse. However, China is likely to remain confident as it increasingly perceives that a certain small group of countries has no right to dominate or dictate world affairs anymore. Many world leaders will attend the event, and as set out in a recent Politico article, America's boycott campaign at large has been met with failure as many countries show a hesitancy to cooperate. It has not achieved its objectives and this illustrates the incompetence and underlying weakness of the Biden administration. Still, many audiences are not aware of how they are being consciously tuned to hate China through an onslaught of daily atrocity-laden propaganda, and it is time for the world to wake up.

The author is a political and historical relations analyst. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn