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“China panic” distorting the news   

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The so called “China threat” now permeates the Australian media, often fueled by irresponsible scare tactics. Journalist Duncan Graham believes the current climate is distorting basic reporting.

Damn the Chinese – who do think they are, shoving Aussies around? Their latest arrogance after banning our barley and booze is President Xi Jinping demanding we search for a missing boat. 

Here’s proof again that we must spend more bucks on bangs, and snuggle closer to the US to protect our sovereign shores.

Just one quibble, minor but critical: The Chinese didn’t ‘demand’ anything. They asked for our humanitarian help in finding a fishing boat lost in the Central Indian Ocean.

The search involved several other nations, though tragically when the capsized Lu Peng–Yuan YU  was found by the Indian Navy all 39 crew (17 Chinese, 17 Indonesians and five Filipinos) were either dead or missing.

Under international agreements nations run search and rescue operations in their regions. The Chinese ship went down in Australia’s zone, though 5,000 km west of Perth.

News Ltd papers ran this headline on 18 May: ‘China’s President demanding Australia’s help to find missing boat.’

The first par then read: ‘The Chinese ambassador to Australia has issued a demand on behalf of his nation’s leader, calling for help in the search for a missing fishing vessel.’

‘Issued a demand’ then morphs into Ambassador Xiao Qian telling the media that ‘a number of countries were being asked to assist … President Xi has made very important instructions … to co-ordinate with our friendly countries … for a possible immediate search and rescue.’

The Ambassador remains respectful, calling, asking and wishing but never demanding. No other media used the word. The ABC said Mr Xiao ‘requested’ help.

Your correspondent thought this strange and complained to News Corp, the Australian Press Council and the Independent Media Council as the story was also published in Perth Now. This is part of the Seven West Media Group and not a member of the APC.

Readers’ Editor Laura Newell speedily replied: ‘The content was not written, nor altered by a member of our staff, which makes it difficult for us to judge whether the “request” for aid was a demand or not.

‘Regardless, we have removed this content, which we hope you will consider a satisfactory outcome in this matter.’

Offer accepted with a rider: ‘Even though the story came from a third party, I presume your subs read before posting.

‘In this case, the language used doesn’t reflect the facts in the copy, suggesting an intention to provoke and further damage Oz-China relations.

’That may have been the political agenda of News Corp. It shouldn’t infect the West unless that’s also your paper’s policy. I hope not.’

The story was taken down in WA but has since been reinstated. It remains on News mastheads around the country. The APC has yet to respond. Likewise News Corp.

Duncan Graham has been a journalist for more than 40 years in print, radio and TV. He is the author of People Next Door (UWA Press) and winner of the Walkley Award and Human Rights awards.

We welcome contributions from AWPR members and supporters. These guest posts do not necessarily reflect the views of AWPR.














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