Propaganda – Example

Uncle Sam in China

If your news or twitter feed coughs up China-related stuff, you might have seen this from Reuters on May 25:

War “inevitable” unless Washington stops demanding Beijing halt building of artificial islands in S.China Sea

Reuters (and subsequently the Western media en masse) was making hay with a laboriously parsed op-ed in China’s Global Times that purported to lay out the PRC bottom line– that the PRC was totally committed to the island expansion program and there would be trouble, localized but uglier than we’ve been used to, if the United States was totally committed to stopping it.

Mission unaccomplished on the “misunderstanding” [propaganda] end at least, as we shall see.

The English language version of the GT op-ed stated:

For China, one bottom line is that the reclamation of these islands must be finished no matter what. If the US sets its bottom line on the condition that China must stop its construction work, then military confrontation will start sooner or later.

For understandable reasons, Reuters decided to run with the more detailed and somewhat more menacing Chinese language version:


If the US bottom line is that China must stop construction, then a clash between US & PRC is unavoidable and the degree of severity of the conflict will be higher than what people usually understand as “friction”. 

A 100% accurate, boring, and convoluted rendering of this paragraph as a headline might be PRC state-affiliated newspaper warns clashes ‘more than friction’ unavoidable if US insists PRC back down on island construction.

Instead, Reuters reduced and pureed these lumpy sentiments into the easy-to-digest China state paper warns of war over South China Sea unless U.S. backs down 

An outlet that takes the Reuter feed improved it to War inevitable unless the US backs down – China state media 

Not to be outdone, Quartz went with China Warns of ‘Inevitable’ War with US Over South China Sea 

Huffington Post:

China-US War ‘Inevitable’, According to State-Run Newspaper

And a little further down the food chain:

China Warns of World War 3 Unless the US Backs Down on South China Sea 

Maybe chalk up the “inevitable war” furor to the desperate quest for click-bait by Western outlets who know on what side their access, advertising, and readership bread is buttered (hint: it’s not the China side, at least not…mostly…yet).

This is excerpted from Peter Lee’s astute article Did “China” Say “War” With the United States is “Inevitable”?

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