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The New York Times Whitewashes Chinese Totalitarianism


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There are several articles in the “paper of record”of New York City which, in one way or another, have ended up on the side of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), practically approving its system of government and the ways in which it is carried out.

Now they not only approve of the methods, but also of the results, specifically in an article by the journalist Li Yuan entitled: “In a Topsy-Turvy Pandemic World, China Offers Its Version of Freedom.”

New York Times whitewash to Chinese totalitarianism

Many Times writers are smart about writing these kinds of articles. They use loose-lipped defenses, raise subjectivity, and the “it’s more complicated than it looks” argument resurfaces and try to put in the middle something that should be clear by now: the CCP is a threat, and they have proven it again and again over the last few years.

Something similar was done by CNN with Nicolás Maduro’s regime relatively recently, but with a much less sustained and mediocre opinion piece.

For example, the Times does not say, “there is no persecution of ethnic minorities in China,” they omit it. In the past, the whitewashing of tyrannies came with the gall to deny the crises that the socialist-communist systems were causing in the countries. For example, until not long ago, the left-wing media denied that Venezuela had a major humanitarian crisis. But the massive exodus of Venezuelan immigrants and the overwhelming evidence of the crisis left those who dared to support the Chavista regime in a bad light.

Now the impudence is not to hide the facts, but to twist them, to put a new, friendlier version on top of the original cover.

In that sense, the mere entry of Li Yuan’s article in the Times is revealing: “Surveillance and censorship bolster Beijing’s uncompromising grip on power. But in the country’s cities and streets, people have resumed normal lives.” Basically, the author accepts there is censorship and surveillance that threatens individual freedoms, “but” – there is always a but – China was able to return to normalcy because of its supposed “success” in confronting the pandemic.

“China resembles what “normal” was like in the pre-pandemic world. Restaurants are packed. Hotels are full. Long lines form outside luxury brands stores. Instead of Zoom calls, people are meeting face to face to talk business or celebrate the new year,” says The New York Times, but it ignores, of course, the allegations about the concealment of cases, that China lied about the virus outbreak and withheld important information, that it handled the start of the pandemic badly and we all paid for it. It also forgets that China colluded with the WHO to minimize the impact of the virus.

It’s all ignored by The New York Times! And yet, they themselves have brought out information about these mentioned facts. In the past, newspapers, even though they were never impartial, were characterized by being based minimally on objective facts – or maybe it was an illusion – but today they are chained to subjectivity in order to bend and not break.

The New York Times and relativism

Relative, that is the word. It’s what The New York Times is looking for. To take the debate to moral relativism: nobody is right and therefore one cannot criticize me, “the vision of the NYT must be respected, and the vision of the Chinese Communist Party too,” is that, precisely, what they want to achieve.

The New York Times argues that, in times of confinement – where governments incredibly continue to choose to lock people up by killing the economy and freedoms – China is “already back to normal.”

But abruptly, NYT forgets that from China the virus was exported that put the world in the dark and, later, the Chinese Communist Party sold its success in confronting the pandemic without any support. The Xi Jinping regime exported lockdowns, tracking people, and economic shutdown, but they only applied it for a couple of months and then they opened up. And the West bought that “remedy” that is still being applied even though its effectiveness has not been verified. Look at the case of Florida and New York.

The tyrants of this part of the world, ecstatic, saw in the virus and lockdowns an excuse to show themselves strong and firm in times of crisis and, moreover, to hide their great economic, political, and social failures. It happened in Argentina, Colombia, Spain and several states of the United States.

The New York Times, totalitarismo chino
New York Times Building, NYC. (Flickr).

But prolonged lockdowns were a reality and a mistake. Chinese citizens are used to confinement, tracking, surveillance and constant loss of their liberties. In addition, Asian countries also have experience with epidemics, which is why Taiwan did so well in containing the virus beyond its geographic characteristics.

But the Chinese regime, the one that exported the virus, hid the genome from the WHO, persecuted scientists, doctors, civilians, and lied to the world, are they the cause of success? Li Yuan apparently didn’t knew this when he wrote for The New York Times.

What will the Uyghurs think?

To say that China shows the world its “version of freedom” is to relativize the concept. China is not showing a version of freedom, on the contrary, it wants to impose its totalitarian model and what it does is demonstrate its strength. Xi Jinping tells the world: “We do it better because we are stronger and we control everyone.”

And sometimes, for good reason, China is the only power in the world that grew this year, but not because of its model, but because of the complicity of the rest of the planet. The CCP took over the health sector in terms of mass production of inputs, and that area grew as never before, to the point that much of its foreign policy in this 2020 was based on “mask diplomacy”. Donating mask for free, but also selling like never before. And scamming too.

The New York Times is wrong again on this point, “The pandemic has changed many perceptions, including ideas about freedom. China’s citizens do not have freedom of speech, freedom of worship or freedom from fear – three of the four freedoms articulated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt – but they do have the freedom to move about and lead normal daily lives. In a pandemic year, many of the world’s people would envy this very basic form of freedom,” the article says, and this is essentially false, basically because one cannot talk about realities at the moment based on perceptions. Just like mixing water and oil.

Anyway, the Times goes as far as to say in that last paragraph, because it talks about “freedom of movement,” because people can go to a restaurant, but do the Uyghurs have the same freedom that the NYT mentions in the “re-education camps”? What about the pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong? What about the billionaire Jack Ma who is now missing, causing a lot of uncertainty about his physical integrity? The self-styled “civilian journalists” who want to break the censorship? How much freedom of movement do they have?

The New York Times may whitewash Chinese totalitarianism as a system and form of government, calling it a “new kind of freedom,” but this is false. Blatantly wrong.

If the Times wants, in effect, to sacrifice or debate the sacrifice of democracy and individual freedoms by a Communist regime like Xi Jinping’s, let them say so. Already, they have given a platform to opinion articles such as: “Hong Kong Is China, Like It or Not” even if this goes against the basic Hong Kong principle of “one country, two systems,” where the freedom of the special administration exercised a major counterweight to Chinese totalitarianism.

In the end, Times articles are the kind of texts that the Chinese Communist Party celebrate because it gives them an acceptable image before the world putting forward a less harmful totalitarian version, a little “freer.”

Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón is a journalist at El American specializing in the areas of American politics and media analysis // Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón es periodista de El American especializado en las áreas de política americana y análisis de medios de comunicación.

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