'First foreigner labeled as China state-affiliated media' calls unfair Western coverage of China part of systemic slander campaign
Published: Feb 21, 2022 11:21 PM
Photo: Screenshot of Andy Boreham's Twitter account

Photo: Screenshot of Andy Boreham's Twitter account

Andy Boreham, a Shanghai-based New Zealander, was recently labeled by Twitter as "China state-affiliated media." This might be the first time a foreigner "gains this coveted title," he told the Global Times in an interview adding that "Twitter is anything but a space for sharing ideas. It is a tool for hegemony and the status quo. And the unfair media coverage of China is just part of the systemic and high-level campaign to continue painting China in the worst possible light." 

Boreham said he was not surprised at all when he recently saw Twitter's label as he has been subject of personal attacks by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), an Australia-based think tank that has long served as an anti-China vanguard. Boreham called out some Asian American reporters working for US media who, he believes, have been producing unfair and inflammatory reports on the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Games. 

Despite that many athletes and officials highly praised the Winter Olympics saying it is extraordinary and splendid and boosted confidence and momentum to the recovery of the world amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and really enjoyed their journey to China, some Western media outlets, like the USA Today and the New York Times, considered it controversial as issues such as the political disagreement and a doping scandal lingered on. 

"To be honest, I am not really a sports person at all, but I have been forced to follow Beijing 2022 because of the unfair treatment the whole thing is getting in Western media," Boreham told the Global Times. He said he has been extremely proud of Gu Ailing, especially in the way that she really put the "haters" in their place. 

"Her presence and her cool attitude seemed to really infuriate a lot of Western pundits," Boreham said. 

The 18-year-old US-born skier Gu Ailing, also known as Eileen Gu, was bashed by US media during the Games. For example, Fox News host, Will Cain, called her out as an "ungrateful traitor" in early February and US talk show host Bill Maher lashed the Olympic medalist's decision to compete for Team China. 

"I think it would be very hard to change the negative reporting in Western media about Beijing 2022, just because they have a vested interest in making it seem as unsuccessful and draconian as possible," said the New Zealander who is also a columnist for the Shanghai Daily. 

China has already done an amazing job on controlling the COVID-19 epidemic, so many Westerners are already starting to wonder: "Were we wrong? Is China doing something good?" That makes them uncomfortable. So, the last thing Western media is going to do is allow Beijing 2022 to go ahead without negative and unfair reports that keep China in the "scary" basket, said Boreham. 

"China's 'Zero-Covid' Policy Holds Lessons for Other Nations" reads a recent article by the Wall Street Journal. This headline also surprised many Chinese observers who questioned whether this was the same media that had constantly attacked China on its COVID-19 prevention and control strategy.

During the Games, some US athletes spoke highly of their experience in China citing heartwarming stories and interactions with Chinese volunteers and organizers. Some even shared their favorite Chinese food almost every day. US skier Aaron Blunck also said in a press conference during the Winter Games that China had done a stellar job with the whole COVID-19 protocol. "You kind of heard of some pretty bad media and that is completely false," he told media. 

"Of course, foreign athletes speaking out and praising their real experience here are valuable, but it is very hard for them to break through media back home," Boreham said. 

He wrote an article in December 2021 slashing the "coordinated reports on foreign influencers" by the New York Times and the ASPI stating that "any positive news from China must necessarily be fake," funded by the Communist Party of China, and therefore should be labeled as "misinformation." 

ASPI's report mainly focused on foreign influencers who published content on Xinjiang. "I happened to be included in their list because of some videos I made in Xinjiang exploring the ancient city of Kashgar and Urumqi," according to Boreham's article. 

"Some Westerners definitely will think I have been 'bought,' but I find that extremely rude," he told the Global Times, adding that "I do what I do because I believe 100 percent in what I say. Of course, I do. Otherwise why would I work for Chinese media? It is not a question of money, it is a question of personal morality." 

As an example, a Republican would not take a job at CNN and start writing pro-Democrat news pieces, no matter what amount of money they are offered, Boreham noted. And a Democrat would not work at Fox News and spout Republican talking points for whatever amount of money, either. It's the same thing, Boreham said.

"I hope people will see that I work where I work, and I do what I do, because I genuinely believe China is an amazing place that is getting a bad deal from the West right now, and particularly from America," he said, noting that "the problem of unfair media coverage on China is so deep that it is going to take a concerted effort by a lot of people to right." 

"We are not just talking about journalists who are misinformed about the real China, although that is part of the problem. We are also dealing with a very systemic high level campaign to continue painting China in the worst possible light. It is going to take a fundamental, seismic shift to finally help the world see, and be allowed to see, the real China," he said.