China’s Influence on the International News Media

By Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryIt went under the radar in most of the U.S. news media, but Michael Bloomberg, former New York City mayor and current head of the Bloomberg Media Group, publicly apologized to the Chinese government at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore. What did Bloomberg do to offend the Chinese government? Nothing. Some months back, the Bloomberg media group had carried an interview with former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson who criticized both the Chinese and Russian governments as “autocratic.” Johnson, in his opinion, made it clear that these governments do not represent their people. Among those at the Singapore forum were Chinese Vice-president Wang Qishan and some senior Chinese businessmen.

There is no doubt in my mind that the apology was made to curry favor with representatives of the Chinese government and Chinese business interests. The fact that Bloomberg himself was kowtowing to the Chinese government is a dangerous precedent. If the head of an important news media group in the United States is willing to apologize to the Chinese government for remarks from a former British prime minister for expressing his opinion (and may I add a pretty correct evaluation of what both the current Chinese and Russian governments are), then it may be possible that the Bloomberg news media might carry more pro-China materials in the future.

This has happened in the past. The New York Times and Washington Post both once carried full news advertising clearly from the Chinese government expressing how “great” the China under the Communist Party of China was and of clearly slanted pro-China news. In the 2010’s, a lot of news that was critical of the Communist Party of China simply did not appear in a lot of the U.S. news media, and clearly there is no doubt as to why; many news media outlets were taking Chinese government money. It was also true to see stories critical of the Chinese government right next to pro-China propaganda in the same news media outlet. And yet even with the pandemic that has affected the United States and the world, the growing hostility of China in the Asia-Pacific region, and the threats against Taiwan and possibly the U.S. territory of Guam, it still seems that some of the U.S. and international news media are willing to tow the Chinese government line.

What makes all of this scary is that now I have to wonder whether Bloomberg news will be willing to tell the truth about what is happening in China, and if they are willing to say anything true I have to question how true it is. There is no doubt in my mind that the Chinese government will use its influence to bribe, browbeat and control the news narrative. I expect this. But how much of the U.S. and international news media is willing to go along with what the Chinese government wants? How far are they ready to play ball, and might the U.S. and international news media kill stories that might be vital for the public to know about what is happening in China? This is horribly frightening, and now makes me question at least Bloomberg in regards to what information they may present on China.

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