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The Economist’s Anti-China Stance on Diaoyu Islands

September 20th, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

The following tweet by Gady Epstein, a correspondent for the Economist based in Beijing, is not surprising. The way I read it, he seemed dissatisfied that China and Japan haven’t yet escalated their tension into war.

Yes, this is that same trash magazine that had a sort of mea culpa not too long ago for their role in justifying British imperialism against the Chinese. Remember the Opium Wars? Yes, they ‘regretted’ fueling that war! Earlier in the year they announced a dedicated section to China coverage, and in response I suggested they have an editorial overhaul, because that very announcement were filled with bigotry they said they wanted to avoid. Apparently, that overhaul didn’t happen, and their century-old tradition of fact-twisting continues. Here we are today, on the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands dispute, I just want to share a few bits of the anti-China propaganda this thing, The Economist, is.

First of all, check out the image below. This was the fishing trawler from Hong Kong recently being harassed and trapped by the Japanese coast guard ships. This is obviously no fishing ship ramming into Japanese coast guard ships.

About two years ago, another trawler was caught by the Japanese coast guard. The Japanese government actually raided Google’s office in Japan to take down a video that was leaked unto Youtube of the incident, recorded by it’s own coast guard. From that video, it looks more like the fishing trawler collided with the Japanese coast guard ship because the coast guard ship maneuvered into position to block.

Below is The Economist’s narrative on that event:

Two years ago, when Japan arrested the skipper of a Chinese fishing boat for ramming a vessel just off the islands, it detected retaliation when China blocked the sale of rare earths essential to Japanese industry.

Ridiculous. Whenever Chinese fishing vessels go near to fish, they are the ones to be harassed by the Japanese! What the Economist has done here is to flip truth upside-down, turning Japanese coast guard aggression into Chinese fishing ship aggression. Especially considering that the Diaoyu Islands belong to China; look at official Japanese and Chinese government records. (See Han-Yi Shaw’s exhaustive analysis of both government’s records here.)

The Economist writes:

Which all sounds very rational, until you consider history—especially the parallel between China’s rise and that of imperial Germany over a century ago. . . In that context, disputes about clumps of rock could become as significant as the assassination of an archduke.

China is merely asserting what is rightfully hers. If any parallel to be drawn to pre-WW2 Germany, it is Japan. This is a country defeated (as Germany was in WW1), and now leveraging America’s ‘pivot’ to be more aggressive in laying claims to land not hers. Japan has just taken the step to ‘nationalize’ the disputed islands. That is extreme provocation.

It continues:

The Senkakus row has boiled over now because the Japanese government is buying some of the islands from a private Japanese owner. The aim was to keep them out of the mischievous hands of Tokyo’s China-bashing governor, who wanted to buy them himself. China, though, was affronted. It strengthened its own claim and repeatedly sent patrol boats to encroach on Japanese waters. That bolstered the leadership’s image, just before Xi Jinping takes over.

This logic is rather silly. So, the Japanese government buying the islands is not for its own “mischievous hands?” Since Gady Epstein is based in Beijing, I wonder why he doesn’t talk to the Chinese to get this logic straight.

If that stupid logic is to be in the article, then for balance’s sake, at least offer a Chinese perspective to refute, no?

Why shouldn’t China be affronted by this agitation to further ‘legitimize’ Japanese claim to the islands within the Japanese public?

The Economist is correct to say that this bolsters the right-wing vote within Japan. However, in Xi Jinping’s case, it does not matter. China will react the same way no matter which candidate is contending to be the next President.

For all the talks about the desire for a more ‘free’ Chinese society and for more ‘human rights,’ the Economist certainly knows how to propagandize against Chinese interests when they matter.

Below is another twist of facts:

Having helped create nationalism and exploited it when it suited them, China’s leaders now face vitriolic criticism if they do not fight their country’s corner.

Ordinary Chinese anger comes from Japan being increasingly aggressive in the Diaoyu Islands over the last couple of years. What evidence does The Economist have for the Chinese government “creating nationalism?” The article presented no evidence whatsoever.

The anti-China view towards that public anger is ‘nationalism,’ because such an emotive word suggests irrationality and unjust. Chinese anger is perfectly justified. If anything, the Chinese media are doing their share to warn people against violating laws and to remain calm.

Imagine if Japan blocks American access to Guam and harasses American fishermen there. Americans protest against Japan. Now try to argue American government creating nationalism.

At least there is more hope within the magazine’s readership. A reader, typingmonkey, responds:

typingmonkey Sep 20th, 20:00
yada yada yada

Remind us which country has open disputes over islets with Russia, Korea, Taiwan and China?
And which country has elected shrill nationalists as mayors of its two primary cities, with national ambitions?
And which country has suddenly chosen to nationalize title to a set of islands?
Could it be…Japan?

Yet upon which country does the Economist always place both blame and pressure?

Seems to me the entity most at risk of losing credibility here is the Economist.

Ever wonder why a growing number of Chinese netizens think pieces like this Economist article in the Anglophone media are propaganda?

The Economist would conclude with the following advice:

Asia needs to escape from a descent into corrosive mistrust. What better way for China to show that it is sincere about its peaceful rise than to take the lead?

Very cute. What the world needs is for the likes of The Economist to be more honest in their reporting about our world. We do not need it to fan the flames of mistrust through distortions of facts. The people sorely lacking sincerity are in fact the likes of The Economist!

  1. raffiaflower
    September 21st, 2012 at 03:15 | #1

    “Dogs smelling each other’s posteriors”.

    LOL! Of course, one must respect the universal right to the freedom of speech, as Western propaganda organs such as Economist would solemnly opine.

    However, would this dyslexic Japan shill dare to apply the same slur to a certain royal couple whom a French editor now alleges were caught on video as well, going @ it like, uh, in furry heat? Go for it, Gady Epstein, splash it in your yellow rag Economist!

    It’s your right to free speech – now whoever said you might end up, in a jiffy, in the circulation room counting unsold copies of Economist, which might be waaaaay too many? Just saying.

  2. September 21st, 2012 at 05:08 | #2

    Grady Epstein regularly appears on Sinica podcasts. He is, by a comfortable margin, the most ill-informed, bigoted person in their lineup.

  3. September 21st, 2012 at 10:14 | #3

    The Japanese has been the most aggressive in their action around the islands. They have acted the hardest on Taiwanese fishermen to the extend that some Taiwanese fishermen are flying the PRC flags to prevent attack by Japanese coast guard.

    Due to mainstream media distortion, incident such as the following were Taiwanese fishing boat was sunk by Japanese coast guard is never reported.


    The Taiwan government also recalled their representative back from Japan to protest the “nationalization” of the islands by the Japanese.

    A few days ago, an ROC F-16 was spotted carrying bomb with slogan that says “Diayoutai belongs to us”. If it is an PLAAF aircraft it would make headline news worldwide on alleged Chinese aggression.


  4. Black Pheonix
    September 21st, 2012 at 16:56 | #4

    People, like Grady Epstein, who have no understanding of basic property laws and sovereignty laws should not pretend to speak rationally on such issues, because such international issues cannot be resolved by men with SHIT to offer (when it comes to such matters) and their emotive shrills.

  5. September 21st, 2012 at 23:05 | #5

    Btw, what do you think of Sinica? I heard it once – I think it was on the Foxconn fake story. Sounds like a hangout for Western journalists based in Beijing. If Epstein is a frequent guess there, then that already says something about it. I have a lot of respect for Kaiser Kuo.

  6. September 21st, 2012 at 23:09 | #6

    Btw, on the Japanese government logic that China and Taiwan didn’t claim for some period of time before 1971, I thought it is rather silly.

    Think of it this way. I come to your house, kill a few family members, and then take your family heirloom. Ten years have since passed. During that time, there was a 2 year period you didn’t bother to protest my ownership of the heirloom. Now, there is news that the heirloom supposedly worth a LOT.

    So, you insist on wanting it back.

    I stick this idiotic logic at you that you really “didn’t care” for it until you found it was valuable.

    Did I miss something?

  7. KLstar
    September 22nd, 2012 at 09:10 | #7

    One of the first stories that any expat learns upon moving to China is that during the period of the Concessions there was a sign in front of the Shanghai racetrack that said something like “No dogs or Chinese allowed.” I’ve heard it said that the sign is actually a myth, and it never existed. But whether it did or not, its existence has been repeated so many times that it might as well have existed. And it’s just as well: the myth or reality is a good reminder to expats of the racial and racist basis for colonialism, and its nasty consequences.

    Which is just a long, long way of saying that Gady Epstein surely knows that story/myth, and the ugly history of equating the Chinese with dogs. But, for whatever reason, he went with it, anyway. yinyang is actually kind in his post, and doesn’t come out and call it what it is: racist. Epstein no doubt would gasp and express exasperation and indignation that anyone would suggest he is a racist. It’s all a misunderstanding, he’d say. You all don’t get my sense of humor, he’d say. You all need to chill out, he’d say. But all of Epstein’s saying, let’s face it, is just one more brick in a wall of hateful bias that’s obvious to anyone who bothers to read the Economist’s acid China section.

    Shame on him, and his editors.

  8. September 22nd, 2012 at 11:00 | #8

    In most parks, it is very common to forbidden dogs to be in there. Especially, during the 19th century when pets do not have the rights they have today.

    Many concession parks, establishment etc do not allowed Chinese to be in there. That’s a historical truth. Many times, there is a sign that says “No dogs allowed” too. So it becomes “No dogs or Chinese allowed” when it is known and spread around China. Technically, that can be right too because in essense Chinese and dogs are not allowed.

    Is anybody really surprise? At one time “No colored allowed” is a common sign on most stores in the US. In the movie “We were soldiers” it was highlighted again.

  9. September 22nd, 2012 at 11:00 | #9

    In most parks, it is very common to forbidden dogs to be in there. Especially, during the 19th century when pets do not have the rights they have today.

    Many concession parks, establishment etc do not allowed Chinese to be in there. That’s a historical truth. Many times, there is a sign that says “No dogs allowed” too. So it becomes “No dogs or Chinese allowed” when it is known and spread around China. Technically, that can be right too because in essense Chinese and dogs are not allowed.

    Is anybody really surprise? At one time “No colored allowed” is a common sign on most stores in the US. In the movie “We were soldiers” it was highlighted again.

  10. pug_ster
    September 22nd, 2012 at 15:06 | #10

    Sinica is usually a very good podcast when they don’t talk anything about politics. Gady Epstein’s comments like this is actually not surprising he makes these idiotic comments all the time in Sincia podcasts.

  11. September 25th, 2012 at 21:35 | #11

    Why waste time reading the obsolete “empire mouthpiece”? I received an excellent article on the currency war behind the Diao Yu Tai conflict and copied it to my blog (www.guo-du.blogspot.com) with commentary. How come some HK (normally anti-China Pro-US) activists could unexpectedly breach the professional defence of the Japanese coastguard? How come Taiwan is becoming more courageous than ever in this territorial dispute? They even exchanged “water cannons” with the Japanese yesterday (with photos by AFP). This article (in Chinese) I re-posted helped me to make sense out of these otherwise mysteriously unlikely events. I believe it has been widely circulated by now? It might be worthwhile translating it for this site.

  12. no-name
    October 3rd, 2012 at 07:15 | #12

    The anglosphere nations (US, UK, Aust, Canada) still harbour very great disdain for China and virtually every day and perhaps every hour they enthusiastically scrutinise China under their scope and come up with no shortage of anti-China or anti-Chinese sentiments. Words like ‘crash’, ‘riot’, ‘disturbance’ and even ‘black hole’ are used for embroidering and embellishing their evil comments. Such comments are clearly a direct link to anti-Chinese pogroms carried out in the past like the infamous 1871 Chinese Massacre that occurred in California. Today, this anti-Chinese atmosphere still persists today. The US is CLEARLY the unseen or hidden instigator behind the current Diaoyu furore. The US is planning carefully for a coming conflict off China’s coast. Yet the dengist leaders in China are quite fast asleep. I wish the dengist clique could wake up and waste a little of their time reading my article at http://www.scribd.com/doc/108541922 and see the danger just right ahead at the corner ….

  13. pug_ster
    October 4th, 2012 at 19:50 | #13


    I thought this is a funny read of a Japanese ‘scholar’ thinks that why ‘Senkaku’ islands belongs to Japan.

  14. October 5th, 2012 at 15:47 | #14

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