Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 17:25 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 17:25 | SYDNEY

The dangers of the Chinese media


Linda Jakobson


3 October 2012 14:08

Yesterday I saw myself misquoted by Xinhua, China's official news agency: 

On the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, China, as the host of the Six-Party Talks, has functioned as more than just a coordinator. Linda Jacobson, East Asia program director at the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Australia, said China had played a responsible part both in facilitating talks and in solving emergencies, which was conducive to regional security.

I have not spoken with anyone from Xinhua for exactly one year. A year ago I attended an international seminar organised in Beijing by the Chinese Foreign Ministry's international relations institute about the Korean Peninsula. I agreed to be interviewed by a Xinhua reporter. I asked to see the quotes, and was shown them but later informed that my quotes would not be needed. In the quote which I checked and approved I said: 

Back in the period 2007-2009 China was looked upon as a constructive player in the 6-party talks BUT since the Choenan Incident in 2010 and Beijing's choice of reaction thereafter, China's credibility as a broker on the Korean Peninsula has come into question.

This is annoying. Xinhua's confected quote will be reproduced in literally dozens of newspapers and other news services worldwide. Xinhua News Agency is, after all, China's sole official news service, and used widely around the globe.

I'm not the only Lowy Institute scholar to be misquoted by China's media, and this incident serves as yet another example of how frustratingly difficult it is to convey one's thoughts to Chinese readers. Millions of Chinese citizens are keen to learn about foreigners' views, but the official media continues to either censor or intentionally misconstrue any stance which does not conform to what the propaganda officials have deemed as the correct interpretation.