International media coverage of China: Chinese perceptions and the challenges for foreign journalists
International media coverage of China inevitably plays a vital role in shaping perceptions of that nation around the world – and media organisations from around the world have, over recent decades, devoted ever greater resources to reporting ‘the China story’. Yet recent years have also seen a growing rhetoric within China criticizing international media organisations and, in particular, the ‘western media’ for being fundamentally biased against China – and, indeed, frequently depicting foreign media as being part of a wider plot to discredit China and its people.Such criticisms have received a high profile in official Chinese media – but have also been echoed by ordinary Chinese citizens in online debates.
So are international media organisations, even as they invest heavily in covering China, actually playing a role in alienating Chinese people, and thus contributing to tension between that country and the outside world, in particular the west? How far do ordinary Chinese people share their government’s criticisms and suspicions? And how much justification is there for such criticisms – or has the Chinese government in fact misunderstood (either inadvertently or willfully) the intentions and methods of foreign media organisations?