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Washington Post sells China as
military threat while they fear US

The corporate media is always precise in how it frames the news. Recently came the story that China plans to increase their official defense budget (by 17.7%) this year, to $17.1 billion annually. (The U.S. will shortly raise its official budget to $315 billion.) In reaction to this development, the Sun’s headline, “U.S. worried about rise in China’s defense budget” (The Sun, March 7, 2001), expressed Washington’s concerns.

Secretary of State Colin Powell is quoted reassuringly as telling us the Bush administration will monitor the Chinese closely. And, while the Sun acknowledges that the Bush administration is “pressing” China regarding human rights, the national missile defense system (NMD), and U.S. weapons sales to Taiwan—each policy opposed by Beijing—they are “trying to appease the Chinese in rhetoric, if not actions.”

As to why China is increasing their military budget, the Sun cites two sources. One is David M. Lampton, director of China studies at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. He tells us that “Each side is reacting to the behavior and rhetoric of the other”; while “trends are not reassuring to those that want a stable, productive U.S.-China relationship in the future.”

The other source cited is Chinese Finance Minister Xiang Huaicheng, who is quoted in a recent speech to the Chinese legislature as saying the new budget is “needed to adapt to drastic changes in the military situation of the world and prepare for defense and combat given the conditions of modern technology.”

In short, it was another day during which the Sun totally excluded all dissenting commentary and opinions that refute official statements of the Bush administration.

On the same subject, the Washington Post had a slightly different approach to their story-telling. In their reaction (Washington Post, March 6, 2001). We are told before the jump (i.e., before you have to go to page A20 for the rest of the piece) that the budget increase reflects China’s aggressive interests in Taiwan. That is, their leaders now know that they “must prepare for a conflict with the U.S.” if they are to recover this island that Beijing considers part of China but whose defenses the U.S. is pledged to help.

Later in the article we learn some things which were not mentioned in the Sun article (which was published a day after the Post's!). We’re told that in a Chinese “white paper” published last October at least three major points were made:

  1. The U.S. is China’s main threat and roadblock on the path to regional military supremacy and reunification with Taiwain.
  2. Washington is “practicing a new gunboat policy and neo-economic colonialism.”
  3. The upcoming U.S. missile “defense” shield would destabilize the security of the Asia-Pacific region.
The second item is the most relevant to the discussion at hand. That is because the Post also quotes James Mulvenon, a Chinese security specialist at the Rand Corp., as saying the Kosovo bombing campaign “was a major catalyst for the [Chinese] budget increase, adding to the shock felt by the People’s Liberation Army after officers witnessed the weapons used in the Persian Gulf War. The allied victory [sic] in Yugoslavia constituted a major part of the ‘drastic changes’ enunciated by Xiang.” (Washington Post, March 6, 2001).

Accompanying the article is one of the Washington Post’s favorite tricks. Above the commentary from Mulvenon appears a photograph of a group of smiling, confident Chinese generals who looked as if they just came from an aggressive session in the war room. So the Post wants their elites to know that the Chinese feel obligated to increase their military budget after the “gunboat policy” clearly observable in the last major acts of state-sponsored terrorism by our last two Presidents. (I’m speaking about Clinton’s illegal 78-day bombing campaign of Kosovo, which I’ve argued before in Mediawise violated international law; and also George Bush the Elder’s war with Iraq, which technically was authorized by the UN Security Council, but which nevertheless flew in the face of the UN Charter and international law.)

At the same time, the Post does not wish for the rabble to get worked up over China’s concerns. A much more appropriate photograph to accompany the article would’ve been one showing the virtually unimaginable human suffering caused by U.S. barbarism, many of which can be found on the Internet. And, if the Post wanted to begin a true dialogue on this issue they might run an editorial or two questioning whether a more lawful and humane Presidency than the last two might do wonders for international relations.

The Chinese defense budget is just one of many stories that suggest the Washington Post uses jumps and photographs more cleverly than the Sun does. The Post also dances adroitly, while the Sun’s commentary is thuggishly crude and abrasive.

“Light for All” at the Calvert Street Castle appears to constitute beating us into submission with their total exclusion of viewpoints critical of our government.

Scott Loughrey

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