In an online forum – Insights & Impact – held by CGTN on Friday, six international journalists debunked Western anti-China bias and shared their views on the media’s responsibilities in the global response to COVID-19.
Since the very beginning of the pandemic, the Western media has criticized China’s anti-virus policy. In the Western media coverage, China’s dynamic zero-COVID policy is a failure. What’s the real situation in China?
“I spent most of my time in China from 2020 to around mid-last year… I can tell you without fear of contradiction that it (‘dynamic zero-COVID’ policy) is the most effective policy in protecting lives,” Mubarak Mugabo at Uganda’s The New Vision said at the forum.
In the early stages of the outbreak, China adopted strong public health intervention measures. Son Minea from Cambodia’s Khmer Times believes these measures have allowed the country to open up today. The “dynamic zero-COVID” policy, in Minea’s eye, did little interruptions on his adventures in China. “I had the most beautiful time in China, enjoying a lot of places in Beijing like the Great Wall and the Forbidden City,” Minea said.
Fortune EqbejiAbang from News Agency of Nigeria described China’s handling of COVID-19 as “applaudable” as the country has put effective mechanisms in place to contain the virus and prevent people from infections.
When the pandemic first appeared, China took immediate steps to halt the spread of the virus, which the Western media outlets criticized. Within months, the virus had been eliminated in the country. China then adopted its “dynamic zero-COVID” policy to control the spread and save lives, which the Western media also criticized. And now that China has re-opened, the Western media claim it’s too soon and that China’s COVID response has failed.
Mugabo believed Western criticisms are not about policies, but about China. “China has to look bad at all cost,” Mugabo said that the Western media has the narrative to depict China in a negative way.
Tristan Duterte Nodalo at CNN Philippines also acknowledged the disconnect between the real situation in China and Western media reports on the country. He believed first-hand information is crucial in reporting. “It’s different when just writing about China from the Philippines… and writing about China when I’m in China,” Nodalo said.
Since China refined its COVID policies in December, the Western media has blamed China for “lack of preparation” and the “extreme pressure” on the Chinese medical system.Eric KipkorirBiegon at Kenya Broadcasting Corporation said China has mobilized resources from nationwide to secure people’s safety in the pandemic. The Chinese are satisfied with their country’s policies in the past three years, and this is “not easy” for such a vast nation with over 1.4 billion population.
“People from other countries can feel free to criticize what China authority has been doing, but it’s absolutely unreasonable to do it without talking it into different contexts, especially considering China is the most populous country,” Minea shared his views at the forum.
Muhammad Zamir Assadi at Independent News Agency of Pakistan believed that China’s being discussed by the international community is “good news” as this shows the country’s significant role in the world.
Journalists at the forum agreed on the significance of “fact-checks” in media coverage. However, we are not just facing a pandemic, but also an “infodemic” as fake news keeps spreading on the Internet throughout the pandemic, Nodalo said.