On a muse, I decided to see what was being aired by the Chinese government’s media mouthpiece 新华(Xinhua). To my surprise, three of the “TOP STORIES” on the English language version dealt with the turmoil in Gaza, two of which took a clear anti-Israeli slant in their titles (“Israel shells houses, schools in 11th day of offensive” and “Dozens of Palestinian children killed”).
I should note that at the time, only one on the Chinese language version did not focus so much on Gaza, with only one story at the time, with two more local stories, and a story about Obama’s chosen intelligence officers instead of the extra Gaza stories and the Russia-Ukraine gas standoff.
Now, in the U.S., our politicians voice unanimous support for Israel. This makes sense, as there is a strong right wing pro-Israeli lobby in our country and our government has a large investment (to the tune of $2.4 billion dollars) in the very military that is involved in Operation Cast Lead, and it’s bad policy to bad mouth those in which one invests.
Now, this represents a marvelous asymmetry with the news less than a year ago. China was the one that found itself at the center of a controversy surrounding Tibet in the run up to the Olympic games. Ethnic riots occurred in Tibet and there was a distinct difference to the flavor of reporting coming from China’s official outlets and that coming from Western sources.
Of course, the real source of our countries’ collective stances is not some high-minded ideal that unites U.S. support of the militarily dominant Israel and that of the virtually powerless Tibetan ethnic movements or one that unites China’s defensiveness with regard to Tibet with its over attention-calling to Gaza.
What we have instead is old fashioned geopolitical PR maneuvering, which in the age of the Internet is more clearly visible than in the past, and I must say, it isn’t pretty.