Western Media Accused of Twisting Urumqi Protests

Posted by Charlie @ Discovering Mandarin Sunday, 19 July 2009
The first photos that went around the world last week showing bloody ethnic riots in China were shocking. One memorable photo depicted two Chinese women, dripping with blood, reaching out to comfort each other.

Here in China, people understood the women were Han Chinese, victims of an attack by rioting ethnic Uighurs. State-run television endlessly ran film of the women, dazed and stumbling on the streets of Urumqi.

But by the time that image reached the Evening Standard newspaper in London, it was a different story.

"Blood and Defiance," the caption beneath the photo read on the newspaper's website, "two women comfort each other after being attacked by police."

"Their action reveals not only moral degeneration," proclaimed China Daily, the state-run, English-language newspaper, "but blatant betrayal of journalistic ethics."

In London, the Standard's managing editor, David Willis, said Wednesday the caption was simply "an interpretation" by a copy editor of information supplied by the Associated Press, which had transmitted the photo. Nevertheless, the news agency had said nothing about who attacked the women.

"If that interpretation was wrong," said Willis, "it was a mistake. In any case, we took it off the site when it was put in doubt." Readers had complained, he said.

This week popular Chinese newspapers such as Beijing-based China Youth Daily lashed out at virtually all Western media, saying riot coverage showed Western prejudice, accusing some of "intentionally" changing facts.

However, the Evening Standard was not the only target. The BBC, Al-Jazeera, The New York Times, the Daily Telegraph and even The Wall Street Journal came under siege.

- Now it is my opinion that all media is biased, and therefore used for the editor’s motives and that most public relations include a lot of spin. However having scanned through several sites for information and not just the English Broadsheets, the information came through rather chaotically and seemed fairly unanimous and this coverage seemed a lot more open than last year’s coverage of the Tibet protests.

This all said the Chinese government has also admitted to killing 12 Uighurs in the recent Urumqi protests, which is highly unusual admission from the government. This also questions the position of some criticism of the Western Press.

News Source:
The Star

Photo Source:
Day Life
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  1. Guus Says:
  2. It's really interesting how everyone has their own bias. Western media are quick to accuse non-western governments of bias and propaganda.

    It seems the Chinese understand they need to educate the Western media by providing more information - that's the lesson learnt from the Tibet. Now they see that providing photos etc. can still lead to misinterpretation. That said, of course the Chinese government also has an interest in portraying the situation in a certain way. Trust no single source!

  3. This is very true, every newspaper from the same country has slightly (sometimes not so slight) different bias.

    What interested me in this story was that they hadn't followed it up, they mentioned the accusation... But not the fact that the story that broke (the women being attacked by police) quite probably weren't, BUT people around them as it turns out had been.

    The double bias, weirdly turned out to be falsifying information/pictures so much it was almost true in this case?

    Sometimes though it is rather difficult to decipher the news. I do try not to be to political here. :)


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