Home > Analysis, media, politics > the Economist, a case of Western media censorship

the Economist, a case of Western media censorship

I recall during the dot com explosion in early 2000, the typical Western media narrative was that a rising Internet population in China would somehow bring down the Chinese government. Of course, that didn’t materialize. At that time, I predicted, instead, a bigger audience would challenge the Western media narrative on everything related to China. As of 2010, the Chinese Internet population reached 400 million – about the total population of the U.S.. Looking at comments at some Western media outlets, I think it’s fair to say that increasingly, the narratives are being challenged by pro-China perspectives. The Chinese government still enjoys very popular support (Pew Global Survey – 87% of Chinese positive of China’s direction).

Now I predict Western media will begin a phase of rampant censorship of pro-China perspectives across the West. Or, they will close down ability for readers to comment in their articles altogether.

Here is an example.

Like many Western media, the Economist is on a crusade to paint everything China bad.  Below are some of their latest:

  1. Banyan: A half-pike up the nostril – China’s overreaction to a Japanese “provocation” has set its regional diplomacy back years
  2. China is squeezing the supply of vital rare earths. But not for long
  3. Deng’s heirs ignore his advice

Recently, I have decided to chime in. In this particular article, “A thwarted election“, there was basically not much news, except the author decided to make it out to be:

DISTURBING pictures of Nepali police in riot gear carting off ballot boxes illustrate both China’s clout in Nepal and its fears about the activities of Tibetan exiles.

I thought, if the article is going to be about India, China, and the Dalai Lama, then the following comment is fair game:

huaren2000 wrote: Oct 4th 2010 6:30 GMT
Unfortunately, the Dalai Lama is not very good at hiding his politics behind religion. As long as he is unable to separate his Buddhism from his desire to rule over Tibet, there will be more who oppose his antics – even in the West!

Here is American Humanist Association laughing at the Dalai Lama and India:

“American Humanist Association: “India vs. China””


It was deleted without notice. If not deleted, this should be the second comment beneath the article. I have read other Economist readers pointing out their comments deleted too.

I’ll reiterate my prediction – in the coming decade, we will see rampant censorship of Chinese perspectives in the Western media. If censorship turns out to be too much work, they will instead disable commenting in articles. That would simply be due to the fact that the Chinese Internet population has grown. Any Western media want to bet otherwise?


I finally received an email from the Economist’s moderator indicating the above comment was deleted “because it breaks our comments policy.” Whatever. Only if their articles could stop breaking their own comments policy first!

  1. Otto Kerner
    October 4th, 2010 at 19:46 | #1

    Maybe if you wrote comments that were more relevant to the post you were commenting on, they would not be deleted.

  2. tc
    October 4th, 2010 at 20:52 | #2

    More than one military or paramilitary ships rammed into a Chinese fishing boat (repeat, “fishing boat”) in Chinese waters, just like they always do and did to a Taiwanese fishing boat about 2 years ago, and told the whole world the completely opposite of the story. Western media parroted what they said, or called that a “collision”. When the Chinese government demanded they return the kidnapped fishing boat captain, Western media called that “aggressive”. I am totally confused. I am supposed to believe western media.

  3. October 4th, 2010 at 22:17 | #3


    The Economist article was about the Dalai Lama, election for the exile government, China, and India. My comment was exactly about those. So, when it’s day, you want me to believe it’s night? Very funny.

  4. October 4th, 2010 at 22:19 | #4


    What we see today is not entirely different than from the past. Here is a quote I’ll share with you:

    “In VS Naipaul’s prophetic novel ‘A Bend in the River,’ Salim, the Indian-African narrator, laments his community’s political immaturity, envying Africa’s European conquerors: “an intelligent and energetic people”, who “wanted gold and slaves, like everybody else,” but who also “wanted statues put up to themselves as people who had done good things for the slaves”. Salim believes that the Europeans “could do one thing and say something quite different because they had an idea of what they owed to their civilisation”; and “they got both the slaves and statues”.” (Pankaj Mishra)

  5. raffiaflower
    October 5th, 2010 at 01:32 | #5

    the difference between guided censorship and self-censorship is that

    with the 1st) the reader is more likely to be aware that he is being lied to and denied the whole/true picture; with the 2nd), the reader is actually more gullible because he believes that his news source truly reports without fear and favour.
    Thus the agenda-driven western media will continue to paint an ever darker image of China in the coming years, with slanted reporting and deleting comments that do not fit its framework.
    Two examples today: reporting on the climate conference in China, the story cites China as the “world’s biggest carbon emitter”.
    Now if a crime conference were to be held somewhere in US tmrw, betcha the story wouldn’t cite the place as the developed world’s most violent country.
    On the same page, another story cites Japan as claiming its interests in Diaoyutai dating back to 19th century and China only since the potential existence of oil since 1970s!
    No space given to fact that China has cited its claim goes back sveral centuries. Go figure.

  6. tc
    October 5th, 2010 at 16:49 | #6

    The fishing boat captain not only was handcuffed, his head was also covered by a blanket. This is to make him appear as a “criminal” who violated the Japanese law. Then they sent out the video footage all over the world — In terms of media propaganda trick, I believe, China is about 500 years behind Japan and the west.
    If Chinese people still don’t wake up, China will be wiped out of the world map sooner than you think.

  7. colin
    October 5th, 2010 at 21:35 | #7

    Every western media outlet is strictly anti-china. Period.

  8. October 5th, 2010 at 23:33 | #8


    Wow, that’s pretty dirty indeed.

    But I think when you said “wiped out of the world map” you probably didn’t mean it. If it is a zero-sum and do or die type of deal, Japan and the U.S. would not invest in China or trade with China.

    The truth is that the present U.S. world order does allow most countries to develop and prosper, though the U.S. uses her might to cheat at varying degrees.

    The Western media is not accountable for slander, lies, and half truths when the victims are outside the West. Their hypocrisy is unbelievable.

    @raffiaflower, colin

    Every hypocrisy, half truth, or lie ought to be exposed.

  9. raffiaflower
    October 7th, 2010 at 20:46 | #9

    “Every western media outlet is strictly anti-china.”
    lol. not really. There is a nano-fractional percentage of journalists who try to get the `right’ perspectives on the “real” China (whatever dat is, given its growing diversity) but their views are diminished in the western media establishment that prefers not to deal with inconvenient truths.
    some western media probably casts itself as watchdog or fourth estate over china’s monolithic one-party state whose power is pervasive and seemingly unchallenged.
    obviously there needs to be some check and balance against such asymmetry.
    however, for western media to generally ascribe corruption, cronyism,human rights, wastage, etc, as problems dat are wholly the result of one-party rule is disingenious; these problems are rife even in large democracies such as India, Indonesia, etc.
    many chinese ppl would probably be on the same page with westerners in flailing the inefficiencies of the govt and the inequities caused by the imbalance in development.
    but disagreeing with your rulers does not equate with a desire/want to overthrow a system that has been the guardian of national interests.
    you can liken it with, say, the number of americans who disapprove or are distressed by the numbers, their own and natives, killed in the iraq and afghan wars – but many still accept the idea that their government is doing it for not only their own good, but even for those reluctant countries.
    The West and China simply have different values systems.if western media is really interested in helping china improve and change, to align closer with “universal” (western) values, it should start by trying to understand the chinese point of view and providing fairer reporting.

  10. October 8th, 2010 at 07:47 | #10

    So your evidence for “censorship” is the fact that your comment, which was not germane to a discussion of a Nepalese election as it did not even discuss Nepal, was deleted. yinyang, this reveals a somewhat paranoid mindset.

  11. October 8th, 2010 at 10:54 | #11


    Read my response to Otto above.

    You want me to believe “A thwarted election” about the Tibetan exiles in Nepal electing TGIE officers, about the Dalai Lama, and about India and China trying to influence Nepalese against these activities – have nothing to do with the Dalai Lama, China, and India?

    Very funny indeed.

    This is why the Chinese people are so upset with the Western media – we all can see one way, and the Western media have no shame in describing the absolute opposite. It seems you are well versed in that art along with Otto.

  12. Otto Kerner
    October 9th, 2010 at 13:09 | #12

    Chinese and pro-CCP commenters are very heavily represented in the Economist comment sections relating to Tibet. This post appears to be way out of touch with reality.

    Not surprisingly, the caliber of the discussion in those comment sections is very low. I won’t say that this is all the fault of the Chinese commenters. Very few people have demonstrated the ability to discuss Tibet with people they disagree with without resorting to shouting slogans. But the pro-CCP side is at the same low level, if not worse.

    You posted an inflammatory comment which was only tangentially related to the article you were commenting on and it was deleted. Boo hoo hoo. Good for the Economist. There isn’t much they can do to raise the level of their discussions, but they can at least start by tossing out this kind of silliness.

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