PAUL MALONE. The anti-Chinese bias of media commentators on China

How is it that commentators on China get away with outlandish statements that don’t pass the most minimum scrutiny?

Take for example Dr Clive Hamilton’s statement  commenting on tensions with China and broadcast on SBS TV on May 5 that: “The United States is not going to unilaterally undertake some sort of military action, but Beijing may well do that.”

Why the SBS editorial team did not throw this statement into the dustbin as the mumbling of an ignorant buffoon, beggars belief.

Clive apparently has forgotten that it was the United States that invaded Iraq, based on a lie and in total disregard of the United Nations?  He is apparently unaware of the US airstrikes on Syria in April 2018, again with no international approval and based on what has now been exposed as false claims of a Syrian Government sarin attack.

Since the end of the Cold War in 1991 the United States has used its armed forces abroad 160 times, according to the US Congressional Research Service.   Had Clive forgotten Afghanistan and equally importantly Vietnam where lies like those he now peddles that China threatened South East Asia, cost over a million lives?

In trotting out his nonsense, is Clive aiming to repeat that exercise and perhaps set a new record death toll in a war with China?

And what of Clive’s second statement on SBS that “China has been very aggressive in some of its stances in recent times, putting pressure on Taiwan and ramming boats from Vietnam in the South China Sea”?

He should take note that Chinese aircraft carriers are not sailing off the coast of Florida and around the Bahamas.  It is the United States that has warships sailing off the coast of China. This action has cost lives, such as in the 2017 collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a Philippine-flagged merchant vessel, the ACX Crystal, where seven US sailors died south of Tokyo Bay in the East China Sea. Australians will also well remember the June 1969 tragedy when the USS Frank E Evans crossed the bow of the aircraft carrier Melbourne during a training exercise in the South China Sea. Seventy four US sailors lost their lives.

Before calling again on Clive to comment on China, SBS should ensure that he takes a course in modern history at a recognised university.

But SBS is not alone in choosing ignorant anti-Chinese commentators to speak on China/Australia or US/China relations.

The ABC tends to find US/China “experts” who push a US perspective, or Australian commentators whose starting position is critical of, or hostile to, China. Such commentators can be found at a number of “think-tanks” such as the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) or the Sydney Institute.  They have a long history of pushing US propaganda, not an independent Australian position.

The choice of these commentators is not due to a deliberately conscious bias.  More likely the ABC sees itself as being unbiased by avoiding people who might be seen as pro-China.  It could have the head of the Australia-China Relations Institute, former Labor Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr, as a commentator and it occasionally does.  But he can be smeared as a “pawn” of the Chinese in a way that Australians who push pro-US government views are never painted. Similarly if an Australian of Chinese origin argues a pro-China case, this can be regarded as due to pressure applied by the Chinese government, or a fear that their family back in China might be persecuted by the government.  Chinese Australians are thus denied the right to present a pro-Chinese positon in the same way as an Australian with Irish ancestry can express a pro-Irish position or a person of Greek origins can be pro-Greece.

There are a host of people who have independent views who could provide varied commentary.  The Independent and Peaceful Australia Network has a host of people who could be called upon for comment, but rarely are.  But then they would be seen as biased in favour of peace.  Unlike ASPI they don’t have US arms manufacturers backing them and guaranteeing their independence.

And if IPAN is too pacifist, media outlets could choose to have someone like Brian Toohey or Pearls and Irritationscontributor Dr Paul Perversi to present an independent view on Australia/China relations.


Paul Malone is a journalist and author with over 30 years of experience having worked for the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Australian Financial  Review and the Canberra Times, where he was Political Correspondent for five years and wrote a weekly column until late 2017. His latest book Kill the Major – The true story of the most successful Allied guerrilla war in Borneo will be released in July

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17 Responses to PAUL MALONE. The anti-Chinese bias of media commentators on China

  1. Michael Flynn says:

    May I suggest we all support trade with China and stop supporting the US Republican Party’s re-election of Donald Trump campaign by blaming COVID 19 on China. All countries should look closely at the origins and response to the pandemic, lead the enquiry in their own countries then co-operate for better health measures. The Murdock press in Australia should be accountable for damage to barley, beef, wine, students and tourism by its “Batty” rants. Perhaps the social licence to damage the national interest has expired. Is there a case for de-registration of a newspaper that fails its readers ?

  2. In reply to Clive Hamilton on Taiwan and Vietnam.
    I can tell you before Tsai comes to power waving her Taiwan Independent flag, Ma was doing very well with mainland China. Would you allow Tasmania to claim independence from Australia or Hawaii from USA for that matter?
    Vietnam took some aggressive claim against historically recognised China’s territory and China is trying to defend it including the islands in South China Seas.
    It was so obvious that USA is the instigator behind all these problems but blame the easy target China and you are too clever to fall for it. Go and talk to Phillipines now.

  3. Andrew Glikson says:

    The medieval state of mind referring to adversaries as “goodies” and “baddies”has time and again led to wars throughout history, including recent history. The growing journalistic paradigm of a “yellow peril” may end up doing the same. There is nothing moral about the persecution of the Uyghurs nor about the atrocities triggered, mostly by the West, in Viet Nam and the Middle East. Journalists appear to have forgotten what a nuclear war would look like and by becoming adversarial have become a part of the problem not the solution.

  4. Jerry Roberts says:

    Agree with Evan. We fall into the error of assuming China is the good guy because America is bad guy. Safer to assume they are both bad which means we have to be good. Hugh White makes the point. We need to build up independent strength which is a radical change of policy requiring higher taxation. Meanwhile we have foolishly bought into a trade war, demonstrating both major parties remain heavily committed to USA. Simon is on the money watching the reserve currency.

  5. There is a pronounce degree of historical dementia and asymmetric bias in much of the anti-China commentary.

  6. Anthony Pun says:

    There are two types of anti-China bashers, those who are ideologically oppose and honestly believe that Communism is evil; and the second type is the one does it for a living. Both groups have a significant part of their cohort, a racists outlook. Some in the first group are at least intellectually honest whilst the some of the second group sells their soul to the devil for 30 pieces of ‘gold’. The second group is more likely to goad us to a hot war with China – eg. the great military industrial complex!

  7. Simon Warriner says:

    The writer of this piece needs to spend some time learning about Operation Mockingbird, the scheme the CIA has implemented to ensure western media, particularly in the “5 eyes”, falls into line when required.

    The ponzi scam that is the US dollar is about to implode, and under the traditional model this calls for a large war to create circumstances that allow a monetary reset.

    Ergo, US Vassals, such as Australia must beat the drums to bring the masses to the leaders bidding. Clive is just a stupid tool in the hands of well practiced masters of the art of propaganda.

  8. Andrew Glikson says:

    It is doubtful too many can self-righteously claim a “high moral ground” in a world armed to its teeth with nuclear weapon, bent on saturating the atmosphere with carbon gases destroying its atmosphere, biosphere and future generations.

  9. Alastair Harris says:

    Clive Hamilton has no credibility or intellectual rigor to his anti-Chinese diatribes. And as you point out he’s certainly not alone. The Australian Strategic Policy Institute is habitually dragged out by the ABC and other so-called independent media, as an honest commentator when it is fully-bought-and-paid-for by US and international arms dealers. Conflict of interest anyone? Apparently the normal ethics and protections for journalism do not apply when your journalistic target is the Chinese Government. The great Australian tradition of promoting a “yellow-peril” lives on strongly. Thanks for your piece.

  10. Colin Cook says:

    Very well said – I totally agree. The anti-China content on ABC and SBS – which slips passed without balance – is a matter of concern. Much is due to the funding cuts imposed on our public broadcasters forcing greater reliance for ‘news and commentaries’ on such biased, well-funded outfits as the ASPI. It would help public understanding if these sources were given longer credits instead of the near-subliminal flashes that are the norm.

  11. Ian Lincoln says:

    Paul writes “Unlike ASPI they [IPAN] don’t have US arms manufacturers backing them and guaranteeing their independence.”
    “Guaranteeing” their independence? Did Paul mean the opposite , e.g. “impugning” or “compromising” their independence?
    (The same could be said of ASPI funding from the Department of Defence.)
    Or was his point that IPAN’s independence is guaranteed by their not having funding from arms manufacturers?

  12. Absolutely Paul and the bias is starting to take the form of group think.
    The USA is clearly in decline as a global hegemon – the rest of the world has not looked to it as for leadership during this pandemic and its socio- political fabric is fractured and polarised – while China, a superpower presiding over the globe’s most stable geopolitical environment is clearly on a mission to “lead humanity” (as it terms it) into the future. Unfortunately, the US is irretrievably in decline while possessing an enormous nuclear arsenal.

  13. Evan Hadkins says:

    From the abuse and name calling I gather Paul disagrees with Clive.

    It’s surely true that there are others with different views to Clive’s.

    That the US is so roguish in its behaviour does not mean that China is not aggressive and won’t be more so in the future.

    If you know some uni students here from China (far fewer these days due to our government and the unis), have a chat.

    • Clive Hamilton says:

      So angry Paul. But you left out the context. I was not asked about Syria, Iraq or Florida. I was asked about the risk of military conflict in the South China Sea and Taiwan. I think it’s true to say that every strategic analyst accepts the possibility of some act of aggression from Beijing–just go ask a Taiwanese–while the prospect of a US-initiated attack in that part of the world is extremely unlikely, even with a madman in charge at the White House.
      As for Vietnam, that country welcomed a US warship into its harbour last year as a signal to an increasingly aggressive Beijing (e.g. annexing Vietnamese territorial waters) that it is friendly with the US.
      So while you are casting around in history for examples of US aggression, the people who live adjacent to China today can see where the danger lies. Talk to them.

      • Mike Scrafton Mike Scrafton says:

        “I think it’s true to say that every strategic analyst accepts the possibility of some act of aggression from Beijing”

        Perhaps I don’t fit the category, but I don’t accept that it is a likely or even rational held possibility. Nor do many other contributors to P&I.

  14. George Wendell says:

    Spot on – the bias is palpable and ongoing. Clive Hamilton appears to have a massive blind spot on the US, in fact he doesn’t even bother to question the country’s historical and present geopolitical behaviour in the least, nor it’s imperialist rise. It surprises me that he can even get away with this as an academic – I thought they were supposedly trained to write with balance.

    I note in the last two days that China has started to withdraw from buying some products in Australia, and that will have serious consequences for farmers. Once again journalists especially in the SMH try to put this down to a single event, and that is the desire for Australia to push for an inquiry into the origins of Covid-19.

    I would say it is the straw that broke the camel’s back because the pro-US tirade against China in the Australian MSM, and from some members of the government has been going for a very long time. China has been withdrawing investment for several years now. Media coverage has been permanently patronizing, demeaning, sometimes racist, culturally ignorant, utterly biased, and its treats China as a liar every time. Not so the US. The CCP and PRC are just fed up with not being taken seriously, and I don’t blame them in the least. It’s been going on for nearly 200 years.

  15. Teow Loon Ti says:


    A bias media does not seem to understand that prophasies can be self fulfilling. Much of their propensity for making an enemy out of China can be explained by neuroscience. Early humans evolved a brain sensitive to threats from predators. Now that we no longer have tigers and lions on our tail, the brain conjures up imagined enemies to keep the senses alert to threats; and even to entertain ourselves. Neuroscientist Dean Burnett (2016) in his book “Idiot Brain” says, “It’s cruel irony that in looking for threats so diligently, the brain ends up actually creating them.”


    Teow Loon Ti

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