One is a star of one of President Donald Trump’s favorite television networks, Fox Business. The other is a polished debater on Chinese state media known for her confidence in China’s rise and scorn for “biased” Western media.
After weeks of back-and-forth sniping on television and Twitter, Trish Regan from the Fox Business Network and Liu Xin from China Global Television Network are facing off Wednesday night on Regan’s show to argue on behalf of their respective governments about tariffs and technology.
The debate might be just another weeknight segment for Fox Business, but it’s eagerly anticipated in China, where nationalism and distaste for the United States are running high as the White House tightens the screws on Beijing in their ongoing trade dispute.
“With anchorwomen like her, and companies like Huawei, why would China need to worry about its rise?” read a typical patriotic comment on Chinese social media praising Liu, who is one of China’s best known faces despite her regular show appearing on an English-language channel.
Hashtags about the upcoming debate have been viewed upward of 150 million times, with some Weibo posts retweeted tens of thousands of times.
Nearly all of China’s tightly controlled state media outlets have covered the Liu vs Regan showdown, often framing the anchor as a symbol of Chinese toughness and rationality. Liu’s employer CGTN – the international division of China’s all-powerful China Central Television network, or CCTV – has hailed the clash between the two anchors as nothing less than a “historic first.”
From the Chinese government perspective, the debate may be a small victory before Liu even utters a word on Fox Business. Over the past decade, the ruling Communist Party has invested heavily to push its state media into the global conversation and shape international discourse.
While many Western outlets have shrunk, Chinese organizations like CCTV and the Xinhua News Agency, once the key cogs of the domestic propaganda machinery, have turned their attention outward and expanded aggressively. The state organizations have spent millions on state-of-the-art hubs in New York, London, Cairo and Nairobi, where hundreds of its journalists work.
Newspapers like the party-run People’s Daily these days curate English-language feeds on Facebook and Twitter – services banned inside China – that share everything from Foreign Ministry statements to panda videos.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping, meanwhile, has demanded state media pledge “absolute loyalty” to the Communist Party and, above all else, “tell China’s story well” to the outside world.
Now with Chinese state media getting bigger and bolder – so are its reporters.
SOURCE: Gerry Shih
The Washington Post