Chinese Officials Remind Media of ‘Three No’s’ to Prevent Anti-American Sentiment

Recently, the Internet has circulated restrictions on domestic media coverage of the U.S. election, including the prohibition on reprinting foreign media without permission and on following closely the coverage. Media commentaries “must not inflame excessive emotions,” and online interactive platforms are required to refrain from inciting anti-American rhetoric.

As the U.S. presidential vote is in a dead heat, China’s ideological authorities are also restricting public opinion on the U.S. presidential election and issuing directives to various media and online platforms to guide public opinion. According to China’s Digital Times, the authorities have suggested to the media that all media platforms need to strictly follow the unified arrangement of reporting. Relevant reports should be based on standardized sources such as Xinhua, and should not be reprinted by foreign media or follow up reports without permission. The media commentary should be in line with the statement made by the spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry on the situation, and should not intensify excessive emotions, so as to prevent public opinion from being overheated. Online interactive platforms should take care to strictly guard against anti-American, U.S. boycott and other inflammatory and action-oriented messages.

Controlling public opinion has traditionally been an important tool for Chinese authorities to control society. Guangzhou dissident Wang Aizhong said in an interview with Radio Free Asia on Friday (Nov 6) that he had noticed the mainland media handling news of the US presidential election very carefully: “This is indeed happening. The Chinese government is taking a very cautious and low-key approach to the US election. I think their [the government’s] objective is twofold: First, the relationship between China and the US has been very tense in the past two years, and any commentary on US politics will be cautious. They are worried about causing unnecessary resentment from the US government.”

According to a Beijing-based media journalist who wishes to remain anonymous, radio stations have traditionally been very cautious about reporting about the U.S. government, especially when it comes to the U.S. presidential election: “The propaganda department will always send out notices telling you that you can only quote the Xinhua News Agency’s general release or CCTV news, and that reporters are not allowed to cover or send out independent articles.”

Beijing is very concerned about Washington’s attitude

Wang Aizhong said the competition between the democratic and republican parties in this presidential election is very fierce and still unfinished. The Chinese government is reluctant to leave its position because of election intelligence: “This U.S. presidential race is very competitive between the two parties, which will also lead to China’s comments on the U.S. election, more cautious. Another thing, there has been such a voice and accusation of China interfering in the U.S. presidential election more careful, try to avoid comments, avoid the U.S. accusation that China is manipulating the U.S. election.”

Chinese netizens are now looking forward to the final results of the U.S. election vote. Cha Jianguo, an independent scholar in Beijing, said on the station, “Many Chinese people are now also keeping an eye on the US vote count results day and night, and (the public) is very enthusiastic, for no other reason than two reasons: first, because of the deterioration of relations between the US and China in the past two or three years. The U.S. movements have a great impact on China’s political situation and the lives of the people. Therefore, people are more concerned about the defense of the U.S. political situation.”

On the second point, Cha said that this US presidential election is indeed different from the past: “It’s just more intense, and there’s more excitement among onlookers, so people’s interest is higher. Plus, there are also supporters of Trump and supporters of Biden among the onlookers, so it’s more gripping.”

China’s Global Times published an editorial, “U.S. public opinion institutions should be touched by the election to do some soul-searching,” which criticized the U.S. mainstream media for failing to adhere to the principle of objectivity and fairness. The commentary mentioned that no matter what the final result of this US election is, there is an additional big loser, and that is the US pollsters. They have repeatedly released polls that say Biden’s national approval rating is about 10 percentage points higher than Trump’s, but Biden’s national vote is only 2.4 percent higher than Trump’s, and the two sides are actually in a very sticky situation. Around the battleground states, some polls say Biden’s support in Florida leads Trump by 5 points, in Ohio leads by 4 points, the results of Trump won in both states.

Chinese Scholars : Chinese Government Attitudes Tend to Favor Biden

The commentary said that “many of those mainstream media are directly involved in and publish distorted polls, and in addition their prolonged position-first reporting on domestic issues has constructed some false impressions of U.S. public opinion, undermined the social environment of the polls, and exacerbated the distortion of the polls.”

Li Qiang, an independent scholar in Yunnan Province, said to this station that he carefully observed Chinese media coverage of the U.S. election and found a preference for Biden: “He is more clearly supporting Biden in this bipartisan race. In previous trade negotiations, he pinned his hopes on the 2020 election, Trump going down and replacing him with Biden. So he actually delayed the negotiations, only to have a new judgment later on.”

Li said that when it came to voting day and during the opening of the U.S. presidential election, the official media was careful not to explicitly support the Democratic Party. But in many ways Beijing’s support for the Democratic presidential candidate could still be seen.