A welcome about-turn: the Süddeutsche Zeitung renounces its Chinese propaganda supplement

Virtually unnoticed by the general public, the Süddeutsche Zeitung seems to have decided to discontinue supplements from the Chinese Communist Party’s China Daily. News of the termination of this presumably very lucrative business relationship was tucked away in a third-page article by the Süddeutsche Zeitung’s correspondent for China, who claimed that the “China Watch” supplement was only meant as a one-time affair. In November 2017, things certainly sounded different. In response to our criticism, the managing directors stated in an email to the International Campaign for Tibet that they intended to include the supplement in their print edition “bi-monthly.” This would mean that at least two more print editions should have appeared this year if the SZ had not, apparently, thought better of it.

Even if it remains unclear what made the management reconsider, it is a decision worthy of praise. Other media should follow the Süddeutsche Zeitung’s lead and terminate their advertising deals with this propaganda-peddling newspaper. They should distance themselves from cooperation with Chinese state media, which not only serve as the mouthpiece of an authoritarian country and party leadership but also take part in the most perfidious oppression. Since 2013 TV and the state-run press in China have broadcast forced confessions from dissidents clearly jailed unjustly to silence them and intimidate the public. This clearly contradicts international human rights standards as well as China’s own written laws.

Thus, the International Campaign for Tibet, along with the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) and the French Ligue des droits de l’Homme, made an urgent appeal to the Parisian Le Figaro to discontinue its monthly China Daily supplement. In Germany, the Handelsblatt continues to publish advertising supplements from China Daily, as do many other leading media in Europe and America. It is high time to call out this cooperation for what it is: the selling-out of journalistic credibility.

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Kai Mueller

Before joining the International Campaign for Tibet in 2005 as Executive Director in Germany, Kai Mueller served on the board of Amnesty International Germany and worked as research associate in the German parliament. He heads the Berlin office of ICT. Since 2015, he also coordinates ICT's United Nations initiatives.