As the British newspaper The Guardian reported, the Telegraph had maintained the lucrative connection with the Chinese propaganda sheet China Daily for more than 10 years and, together with its print edition, had delivered its supplement China Watch. In addition, the newspaper maintained a subsection on its website that originated from People’s Daily Online and naturally also ran unrestrained Beijing PR. No wonder, since this is the English version of the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee. The Guardian quotes some typical headlines from articles that have since been deleted. The headlines read, for example, “Why are some framing China’s heroic efforts to stop coronavirus as inhumane?”; “Traditional Chinese medicine ‘helps fight coronavirus’”; and “Coronavirus outbreak is not an opportunity to score points against China.” The Telegraph is reported to have received about £750,000 a year for supporting Chinese state propaganda.
The step by the Telegraph comes late, and the motives for it remain hidden. The paper follows newspapers such as the Süddeutsche Zeitung and The New York Times, which have also withdrawn from such cooperation. Until the end of 2019, the Handelsblatt was the only German newspaper to carry China Watch. Despite several inquiries, its management does not want to comment on the conditions of cooperation with the Communist Party. And also Le Figaro in France or Le Soir of Belgium refuse to respond to appeals from civil society, including the International Campaign for Tibet. Transparency and openness would be essential, especially for newspapers that are important watchdogs in a democratic society. This lack of transparency does not match the image of independent media and damages their credibility.
The termination of China Watch by the Telegraph is a long overdue step. It was and is a shame for free Western media to disseminate propaganda of a regime that uses violence to attack freedom of expression and mercilessly censors the media. It is incomprehensible why free Western media can be bought by a system that harasses, persecutes and imprisons countless people who dare to insist on their human right to freedom of expression. It is high time that the remaining China Watch inserts in Western newspapers are now discontinued.