When the former communist leader was escorted out of the party convention, speculation of a ‘purge’ quickly arose
By Timur Fomenkopolitical analyst
During the 20th National Party Congress of the Communist Party of China, a storm of media speculation ensued over a brief scene where the country’s former leader, Hu Jintao (2002-2012), appeared to be removed from the podium, after being seated next to Xi Jinping. It’s unclear why he was escorted out of the congress, and no comment was ever made, though, unsurprisingly, coverage began to aggressively speculate that Hu had in fact been ” purged,” deliberately contrasting his more collective form of leadership versus Xi’s “one-man” centralization.
The idea that a former national leader, now 79, was publicly ‘purged’ on live television footage of a super-important political event, is simply ridiculous. Yet that is where we are today in terms of coverage of contemporary China. Even well over a week after the alleged incident, media articles continue to pour in, speculating on the fate of the former secretary-general, invoking paranoia and negativity towards China, and brushing aside the logical explanation that he could have left the event because of “bad health.”
The Western media’s attitude towards the Hu Jintao “incident” is representative of a broader gaslighting culture towards anything China-related. That being so, with all the opportunities they can find, Western corporate news outlets will actively blast them to create a protracted course of negative, speculative and sensational coverage that they drag on and on, in an attempt to lead a war of “public opinion”. against Beijing. In this toxic atmosphere, China is being targeted for small details and subject to scrutiny that other countries don’t get.
Since the United States began to escalate its campaign against China, a war of public opinion has accompanied it with the aim of advancing American political goals by manipulating the global conversation on Beijing. A quick look at opinion polls in Western countries shows how devastating this Washington-led campaign has been. While journalists and think tanks like to assert the decline of positive views about China to substantiate their view of how “evil” China and Xi Jinping’s actions are, the reality is that there is had a concentrated and organized militarization of public opinion against China by journalists, politicians and experts associated with the United States.
And part of that campaign involves this endless pursuit of gaslighting every little detail in protracted controversy and drama. Some recent (but not exhaustive) examples of this include how endless speculation about the origins of Covid-19 has been used to weaponize conspiracy theories regarding a supposed lab leak in China – an issue that has been pushed by the US State Department and the media – the alleged public disappearance of tennis player Peng Shuai, the recent scuffle outside the Chinese Embassy in Manchester, disputes over Taiwan, the impact of China’s zero-Covid policy, debris from Chinese rockets falling from space, the list goes on.
What all of these stories have in common is that they don’t just happen and then die. They are dragged over and over continuously until the next item in the news cycle comes up. What viewers need to recognize about this model of reporting is that agenda-driven journalism like this is ultimately selective and seeks to manipulate public opinion through what it chooses to report. highlight and what he chooses not to highlight. Any speculation that purports to oppose China in any way will be given maximum coverage, deliberately. The same cannot be said for other countries. Why, for example, do some human rights activists or protest events receive publicity, but not others? Why are some causes deemed more “valid”?
On top of that, what the Hu Jintao debacle also helps us understand is how the discursive fear and “public imagination” of communism is also being used as a journalistic tool in order to weaponize “speculation” politically. . The media plays on the public assumption of China’s secrecy, brutality and paranoia to twist completely normal situations to imply worst-case scenarios. It is thanks to this that the hypothesis according to which the Covid-19 could not have had a “natural explanation” acquired such legitimacy. In such a mindset, every little thing is seen in the context of a larger, sinister conspiracy theory with a communist agenda hidden within it. This type of discourse has also allowed fear and paranoia of “Chinese influence” to proliferate, creating consent for lockdown-related policies.
One example is branding Huawei as a national security threat so it can be excluded from 5G networks. Even though Huawei was in the networks of Western countries for over a decade, you might notice that it wasn’t a threat until it suddenly was, and that’s how the manipulation works .
Therefore, the gaslighting regarding the fate of an elderly man is nothing more than a deliberate manipulation aimed at weaponizing negative sentiment against China and casting a shadow over the 20th Party Congress, as they do not want Beijing to establish its own narrative regarding the event under any circumstances.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
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