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Western media unlocked: Unmasking hypocrisy and propaganda

By Xupan Yiru and Meng Zhe | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-10-10 18:34

The use of think tanks as a political tool to promote an ideological bias or government agenda is becoming more and more prevalent in the current climate as many Western nations struggle to come to terms with their systemic failures, and divert their people's attention to unrelated matters.

"Unmasking Hypocrisy and Propaganda" is the latest episode of China Daily's documentary series "Western Media Unlocked".

While some think tanks are aimed at promoting benevolent goals such as global cooperation or environmental causes, others have a more insidious agenda. Often cited by media outlets as "independent institutions of scholarly research", some think tanks, who are tax-exempt and do not have to reveal how they are funded, are precisely the opposite.

In fact, many think tanks are funded by governments and even weapons manufacturers.The Australian Strategic Policy Institute, ASPI, gets its funding from the Australian and US governments and has been integral in the anti-China sentiment in Australia, said political commentator Jordan Shanks.

By producing pro-American and anti-China literature, ASPI has risen to a dominant position in shaping Australia's foreign policy towards China, according to Geoff Raby, former Australian ambassador for China.

Meanwhile, some think tank experts have dubious credibility. Adrian Zenz, the German scholar often cited by Western media as the "expert" on Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, claimed that in Xinjiang there may be more than one million people detained. But the Grayzone, an independent news website, revealed he based this claim on a single report by Istiqlal TV, a Uygur exile media organization based in Turkey.

Such think tanks and experts are not doing research, said Shen Yi, a professor at Fudan University in Shanghai. Instead, they are practicing propaganda and are often used to indirectly push the agendas of the governments and corporations that financially support them.

Researchers, politicians, and media collude to drive anti-China sentiment worldwide. First, so-called independent researchers or institutions release a report making accusations against China; then certain Western politicians quickly follow up and make statements citing the report; next, media outlets report the news; last, certain Western governments take advantage of the media's leverage as tacit approval for further actions such as passing legislation to ratchet up pressure on China.

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