Anyone else spotted, in media reports on the various demonstrations across occupied Tibet, a remarkably similar syntax used by television channels and newspapers? The extent of agreement is so striking, appearing in a range of diverse organizations, news agencies and publications, as to suggest we are witnessing some invisible hand orchestrating coverage on the issue of Tibet. The source of such manipulation is perhaps revealed by key terms which are consistently repeated, in general these are phrases that restate and endorse China’s bogus territorial and political claims on Tibet. In which correspondents and editors saturate reportage on Tibet with descriptions such as ‘ethnic areas’, ‘ethnic Tibetans’, ‘Tibetan areas of Western China’ or feature fact-free headlines claiming a Tibetan ‘self-immolated in Sichuan Province China’ (when in fact it happened within Amdo Region of occupied Tibet).
That the public are being drip-fed such distortions is a serious concern, more so as a significant number of people are either factually unaware of Tibet as an issue, or its political and historic geography, and invest trust upon mainstream media, who they are reliant upon, to provide objective, independent and fair coverage. What’s on offer however in no way could be described as respecting such journalistic standards, indeed what’s paraded, as the latest factual bulletin on the situation in Tibet, is usually a carefully constructed deception. This is revealed as true when we examine the relationship between media organizations (particularly those based in China) and the Chinese Regime. At the highest levels it could described as cosy, with media moguls of news channels enjoying extremely cordial ties with the authorities in Beijing, we are of course talking dollars and politics here, and long ago the supposed ‘seekers of truth and justice’ jumped into bed with China’s totalitarian regime.
This closeness must surely result in a certain accommodation on the part of foreign media, eager, to not only maintain, but strengthen its position within China, we should at this stage pause to consider what ‘benefits’ would China’s authorities seek to gain from such an alliance? Would it be too fanciful to imagine that it expects, what it considers to be a more ‘sensitive’ and ‘aware’ understanding and reportage on issues such as Tibet, from its western media buddies? Such an arrangement, no doubt reached at the highest of executive levels during some convivial social occasion, would encourage the development, within an organization, of a ‘position‘ on such sensitive subjects. There would develop an almost unspoken agreement and editorial policy, supported by the conformity of those not wishing to undermine career prospects, to follow a certain line. The result of such a nexus of influences would render a news channel or agency vulnerable and compliant to any influences or indeed demands placed upon it by China. Some decent journalists would no doubt find such a view difficult to accept, others would seek to deny such a collaboration, yet the report that Bloomberg News was censoring articles, from its own staff, which would upset the Chinese Regime was a disturbing confirmation of such censorship See Article HERE
Yet there exists a more basic, equally troubling factor, that leads to media misrepresentation on Tibet making its way onto our internet, newspapers, televisions and radio, the degree of control imposed by China over foreign media channels operating in that country. This is most acutely felt when dealing with thorny topics such as Tibet or human rights, and foreign correspondents are effectively chained to a series of administrative regulations and requirements demanded by China’s Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Information, which makes free and independent coverage of these areas almost impossible. The stranglehold is so great that foreign journalists, when seeking information on say reports of demonstrations inside Tibet, have become virtually entirely dependent upon the official information from Chinese Government sources, such as Xinhua. So while Tibetans are being killed by China’s paramilitary in Kham, an information official from the Ministry of Information is handing out a propaganda script on the events to the gathered foreign press corps in Beijing, who dutifully report that. via agencies such as Agence France Press, Associated Press or Reuters, as factual news.
The reality is that what’s being reported is disinformation authored by China’s propaganda machine, complete with the very distortions and key-phrases that we read, see and hear in our media reporting on Tibet! Now these poisonous untruths, having entered the global information stream, reach across social platforms such as Twitter, where well intentioned folk; who maybe know a little about Tibet, are concerned to read in the LA Times of a crackdown in Tibet and so feel naturally compelled to tweet to the wider world the news source they just read. Yet in so doing, the lies so cynically engineered and imposed by China’s regime, are repeated, reinforced, exposing others to the corrosive deception that seeks to conceal the odious realities of China’s occupation of Tibet.
In the Editorial offices of Sydney, Washington DC or London such ‘reports’ on Tibet, arriving from their Chinese controlled correspondents in Beijing, are often given the semblance of some balance by featuring the opinion of authoritative commentators or academics. However, far from introducing impartiality or challenge to the caustic propaganda masquerading as balanced news, such views are themselves infused with a bias, albeit of a different objective, that equally misrepresents the reality inside occupied Tibet. That commentary, like the disinformation fabricated by China’s spin machine, has an identifiable and consistent lexicon, this most commonly takes the form of misrepresenting the causes, nature and objectives of political struggle waged by Tibetans. If we read or hear such narrative we can see an insistence that demonstrations in Tibet are seeking cultural and religious freedoms, a reaction to economic, educational or social disadvantage, or as a protest against China’s policies (with the implied message that any moderation would result in a happy and passive Tibetan population) Such commentators are always eager to report self-immolations as extreme acts of support for the Dalai Lama, careful to avoid any mention of the fact that such sacrifices and protests are conducted with the central demand of Tibet’s independence. Just as China’s psychopathic violence and killing of Tibetans is obscured, diluted and evaded by a media serving as a willing conduit for China’s propaganda, so it is that the courageous actions of Tibetans, who resist China’s tyranny to assert their nation’s independence, is ignored, misrepresented and denied by a handful of commentators and organizations, who are the media’s go to for a supposedly balanced and informed take on Tibet.
Thankfully, there are alternative news sources and we would highly recommend the following as offering a more factual, independent and honest reportage on Tibet.