US media narrative on Xinjiang attempts to ingrain hostility toward China
Published: Oct 10, 2023 07:29 PM
 Illustration: Liu Xidan/GT

Illustration: Liu Xidan/GT

A recent nine-day visit to Xinjiang in September 2023 by 22 foreign journalists from 17 overseas media organizations reported favorably on the vibrant local economy and China's efforts to preserve the local traditional and diverse cultures.

Instead of ending the flood of lies in the US media about Xinjiang, a US State Department agency, the Global Engagement Center, attacked this fact-finding visit, the visiting journalists and also China. This US agency released a 58-page report warning that China's information campaign on Xinjiang "could sway public opinion and undermine US interests." The US corporate media dutifully picked up the report and spread it. 

An AP news story "The US warns of a Chinese global disinformation campaign that could undermine peace and stability" used quotes from other government-funded organizations to reinforce its lies. This included Freedom House, which is 90 percent funded by US federal grants. 

The anti-war movement in the US is aware of the media's role. At a recent rally in front of CNN News followed by a march through busy Times Square to the New York Times media conglomerate, the resounding chant was: "Corporate media, we can't take lies anymore! Stop your drumbeat for war." This reflected the growing rage at the role of the largest media conglomerates in promoting militarism and racism. 

"Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth." This comment, attributed to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels, is obvious in how news coverage in the US is organized today. Sometimes this leads even well-meaning people astray. They might say that "I've heard so often that there is slave labor and genocide of the Uygur Muslim people in Xinjiang, so it must be true."

I've held a series of talks and interviews with different audiences describing the diversity of cultures, modern cities and new farming techniques in Xinjiang, which I visited this May. My comments were greeted with a mixture of interest, curiosity and a frustrated suspicion from the US media, which have continually lied in the past and demonized a targeted country to justify each war.

In discussing my visit to Xinjiang, I often begin by asking an audience not to take only my short visit as the basis for their understanding of conditions in Xinjiang. It is more important to ask why no Muslim country has ever backed up the charges of genocide in Xinjiang, charges that the US government, its politicians, as well as talking heads in the media repeat endlessly. 

A visit by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation with 57 member states and later a delegation from the Arab League praised the Chinese government's policies and the harmonious relations and respect for the religion and culture of the people that they observed.

The June visit by the delegation from the Arab League was immediately denounced by the VOA. The VOA is a US government-owned news network that produces digital, radio and TV content in 48 languages and distributes it internationally. This response exposes how threatened the US is of a different view of China reaching people around the world. 

The media industry in the US is privately owned by a handful of billionaires. These media conglomerates combine advertising, broadcasting and networking, news, print and publication, digital, recording, and motion pictures, and most have international reach.

The most dangerous aspect of this web that seeps into every area of conscious life is that the media is intermeshed with the top US military corporations.  

All of the military corporations are also privately owned capitalist corporations. Their survival is based on enormous, government subsidized military contracts. Military corporations make the highest rate of profit with the highest returns to stockholders.   

This reality means that the corporate media functions as the public relations arm of the military corporations. The media's task is to sell war, and to justify war.   

The media in turn works with the well-funded think tanks who strategize, provide reports and talking points to the media and to the politicians - Republican and Democrat alike - who vote for ever increasing military budgets.  

This message is reinforced by continual claims that the media in other countries is controlled, combined with constant reassurances that a "free press" exists in the US. 

The US media focus on Xinjiang has a dual role. It is attempting to ingrain deep hostility toward China because the US corporate rulers fear China's growing economic strength and its attractive trade and development plans.  

The US media is also attempting to deflect attention away from the massively destructive US wars against Muslim people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, by claiming concern for Muslims in Xinjiang. China is showing the reality by inviting increasing numbers of visitors to see Xinjiang for themselves.

The author is a political writer and activist for 50 years in the US. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn