Toronto Star

How Globe got it wrong publishing Beijing propaganda

- Rosie DiManno

This is when the Globe and Mail got it right. From the paper’s July 30 lead editorial, headlined: “The continued imprisonme­nt of the two Michaels is an act of pointless cruelty.”

“We keep hearing that Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig are suffering in conditions ‘akin’ to torture, but there is no such thing. Their false arrest and unjustifie­d incarcerat­ion amount to torture, period.”

This is when the Globe and Mail got it wrong. The double-truck spread, smack in the middle of the glorified Report on Business section, on Sept. 19 — last Saturday.

Headlines include: “Tree fellers turn into tree lovers.” “University’s admissions offer out of this world.” “A chain of celestial lights to celebrate inclusiven­ess.”

Which, inclusivit­y, doesn’t include the ethnic minority Uighurs, a million interned since 2017 in at least 87 camps surrounded by watch towers and barbed wire fences within Xinjiang region — camps the Chinese government denied existed until satellite imagery put the lie to those claims.

I won’t go into details about the content of the cheerful stories published in the Globe’s prime real estate pages — I’m not the one being paid to shill — under the “CHINA WATCH” banner.

Suffice to say that “CHINA WATCH” is the internatio­nal propaganda arm of state-run English-language newspaper China Daily.

Only in tiny letters at the bottom of each page does it state: Content produced by China Daily and distribute­d in the Globe and Mail.

I’m not in the habit of calling out other newspapers, particular­ly since the Star has a policy of not calling out our own selves when we deserve to be boxed about the ears. But the Globe brands itself “Canada’s National Newspaper” and fancies itself the paper of record.

So, on the record, the Globe has accepted Judas silver coins to whoremonge­r for the Communist Party that rules The People’s Republic of China. A Chinese government that is at diplomatic and political war with Canada — hence the two poor Michaels, caught up in the interminab­le wrangle, essentiall­y held hostage by the regime for 654 days (as of Wednesday).

Now, everybody knows these are trying times for the newspaper industry. But of all the papers in Canada, the Globe and Mail is least threatened by economic hardship, owned by the Thomson family — its chairman, David Thomson, wealthiest Canadian, as per Forbes, with a net worth of $32.5 billion, as of last year. If the Globe splashes around in the red, the Thomson clan can just sell off one of its Group of Seven paintings. Not that it would ever come to that.

Further, the Globe was the first signatory in this country to the Trust Project, a global coalition of media organizati­ons with the intent of promoting truthful, accurate, fair and transparen­t journalism — because journalism is under siege everywhere, lacerated as purveyors of fake news.

China Daily is fake news. China Watch is fake news. At the very least, the Globe should have made that clearer. I put the matter to the Globe braintrust in emailed queries.

“As you point out in your questions, the China Daily pages are indeed paid advertisem­ents,” acknowledg­ed Phillip Crawley, Globe publisher and CEO, in his emailed response. “The content is visually distinct and had been labelled as produced by a third party (China Daily). However, we believe the pages should have been more clearly marked to reflect that it was a paid advertisem­ent for our readers. We will explore how to make this more clear in the future.”

Crawley added: “We have run these ads occasional­ly for years and like all advertisin­g, they have no impact on our editorial coverage. You can see this in our daily reporting of China, our editorials” — he cited an opinion piece regarding the arrest of Jimmy Lai — “and the excellent investigat­ive work put out by our Asia correspond­ent, Nathan VanderKlip­pe, who is based in Beijing.”

(Lai is a longtime champion of the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement.)

Indisputab­ly, excellent coverage of China — the Globe was the first western newspaper to open a bureau in what was then called Peking, more than six decades ago.

But readers won’t learn the truth about Tiananmen Square in the China Daily (or China Watch), won’t be told about the horrors and ethnic cleansing inflicted on the mostly Muslim Uighurs, won’t be enlightene­d on the regime’s crackdown throttling of Hong Kong and certainly won’t be provided with an accurate representa­tion of why the two Michaels were thrown in prison.

That was the China version of tit-for-tat — the regime’s hamfisted response two years ago, scooping up the Canadian businessme­n shortly after the arrest of Meng Wanzhou on a warrant from the United States. America accuses Meng, chief financial officer of Huawei, of fraud, alleging she misled the bank HSBC about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran. Meng is under house arrest in Vancouver, fighting extraditio­n to the U.S.

On Tuesday, China again urged Canada to immediatel­y release Meng and let her return home so as to “safely bring bilateral relations back to the right track,” according to Chinese media reports. At the daily news briefing, a government spokespers­on asserted: “Under the pretext of ‘at the request of the United States,’ Canada arbitraril­y took compulsory measures on a Chinese citizen, which severely violated her legitimate rights and interests.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been able to do nothing — that we know of — to secure the release of the two Michaels, after nearly two years of detention. In June, Kovrig and Spavor were charged with espionage-related offences, which is bollocks.

A whole bunch of boldface Canadians have since signed a letter urging this country to knock off the extraditio­n proceeding­s against Meng, so that the Michaels can be sprung. This is hostage diplomacy — a prisoner swap, the stuff of despots and unethical government­s.

And we won’t even get into the further strong-arm squabbling between China and the U.S. over China-owned TikTok and China’s pressuring of Canada to integrate Huawei technology into our 5G network.

China has invested colossally and with sophistica­tion in propaganda supplement­s that have appeared in respected publicatio­ns such as the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, as well as opening scores of state TV satellite bureaus around the world — all pegged to “reporting the news from a Chinese perspectiv­e.” Which means gerrymande­red and self-serving. All while literally ripping out internatio­nal coverage within China: foreign magazines censored, the BBC flickering to black when carrying stories on such sensitive topics as Taiwan and Tibet and foreign correspond­ents booted out of the country.

Because the Red Dragon can. The Globe and Mail has, under the rubric of provided content, become a party to that.

China is a bully and the Globe, alas, is a pimp.

 ??  ?? Canadians Michael Kovrig, left, and Michael Spavor have been jailed by China for almost two years.
Canadians Michael Kovrig, left, and Michael Spavor have been jailed by China for almost two years.
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 ?? THE CANADIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO ?? Beijing urged Canada this week to release Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou to “safely bring bilateral relations back to the right track,” according to Chinese media.
THE CANADIAN PRESS FILE PHOTO Beijing urged Canada this week to release Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou to “safely bring bilateral relations back to the right track,” according to Chinese media.

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