Last week, Independent left-wing MEP Clare Daly took part in a panel discussion on RTÉ’s European Parliament Report with Colm Ó Mongáin. She was asked about the China Cables – leaked documents which confirmed that the Chinese authorities are running a vast chain of concentration camps which are being used to imprison and brutalise over a million people.
Daly said the camps were ‘reprehensible’ but then immediately turned the discussion to the bête noire of the liberal-left, the Trump administration. “I thought the [China Cables] were being used for geo-political interests, the Germans were being targeted for their trade arrangements with China. I didn’t hear anybody asking about trade arrangements with the United States for example, where the black population are being incarcerated in their millions,” Daly said.
“Would you not concede they are a of different order?” Ó Mongáin asked, pointing to the Chinese ‘re-education’ camps and people being ‘rounded-up’.
“No, I wouldn’t concede that,” Daly responded.
It was a revealing moment. No-one doubts Daly’s opposition to the brutality of the Chinese regime but her default position, like that of so many of the left, is to largely ignore the elephant in the room and relentlessly switch the focus instead to the United States, a free country with a democratically elected government.
Daly’s view, unreasonable and ridiculous as it is, is not confined to the margins.
Fintan O’Toole recently penned a piece for the Irish Times with the ultra-scary (and ultra-ridiculous) headline “Trial runs for fascism are in full flow.”
The Trump administration is “test-marketing for barbarism,” he warned.
RTÉ aren’t much better, with programmes featuring guest line-ups universally hostile to Trump, and news reports using breathless headlines like this one: “Deep concern” is needed over President Donald Trump who has “brought fascist appeal to the White House”.
You could be forgiven for imagining North Korea had successfully invaded the U.S. Love him or hate him, describing Trump’s policies as fascist is absurd, and not backed up by the reality of the situation, which is that Trump is President of a free country, where the press are free to endlessly criticise him, people are free to vote him in or out in 2020, and the Democrats are free, as we have seen, to try to impeach him.
Try any of that in China or North Korea and see how fast you find yourself in jail.
So while Trump Derangement Syndrome winds the media up in knots, this level of hyperbole and scrutiny is never applied to the real fascists – the Chinese Communists currently locking up millions of Muslims and inflicting brutal violence on pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
Just as in the United States, the establishment media in Ireland and European endlessly seek to make a bogeyman of Trump while mostly ignoring the real fascists running concentration camps in China.
The China Cables received scant coverage in the Irish media. RTE doesn’t appear to have reported it at all.
Recent disturbing videos which showed the brutality of the Chinese-backed Hong Kong police shooting at least one Hong Kong protestor with live ammunition, and other disturbing human rights violations don’t feature much in Irish news. Some western media outlets seem to parrot what the Chinese authorities have to say about the protests even while there are speculations that another Tiananmen Square-style massacre may be on the horizon.
Contrast that with the wall-to-wall coverage lately from all the usual suspects about how Trump needs to be impeached for supposedly “subverting democracy”. In fact, according to a new study by the Media Research Centre, US mainstream media coverage of President Trump has been 96% negative in recent months. That doesn’t seem fair and balanced to me.
But where is the similar condemnation of the Chinese President, Xi Jingping, on the world stage? In the midst of all this overtly violent police activity, many news outlets, including CNN, have released glowing articles seemingly praising Xi for pledging to help return Greek artefacts to their home country. Irish politicians have been decidedly quiet in condemning Xi and his regime, along with most other Western governments. If this is really about protecting democracy, why has President Trump become the punching bag of the Western world, while an actual Communist dictator, who has millions of Uhyger Muslims locked in concentration camps, is essentially given a free pass?
Only a few months ago, when Xi came to visit Europe, he was greeted warmly by European leaders such as Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron. Jean-Claude Juncker went so far as to say that “China and Europe must and can do great things together”. He even described the two regions as “strategic partners”, and in 2018, raised a statue of Karl Marx in Germany which was funded by the Chinese government.
The US establishment is much the same, with Democratic 2020 front-runner Joe Biden shrugging off concerns about China. Many have connected Biden’s soft stance to the fact that the Chinese government co-owned a business alongside Hunter Biden, the Vice President’s son, and funded it to the tune of $1.5 billion dollars. In fact, this highly suspicious (and possibly illegal) connection is exactly what President Trump asked Ukrainian officials to investigate, which caused the media and politicians to react so hysterically and call for his impeachment in the first place. But the media gives Trump no credit for opposing China’s brutality by signing the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, or for standing up to the oppressive regime in North Korea.
Suggesting Trump is a fascist or the U.S. is on par with China in terms of human rights abuses is patent nonsense. But it’s nonsense that is repeated in some form across mainstream media platforms every day. They should take the splinter out of their own eye, and show some actual journalistic integrity and courage by standing up to the real bogeymen in the Chinese government.