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.

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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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