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RNZ interview an exercise in China-bashing

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On RNZ’s website today (16 September) you will find two stories about the meeting of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and China’s President Xi Jinping. The two leaders met separately alongside the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Samarkand held 15-16 September.

One story provides a balanced and informative account of this meeting and, in the process of doing so, reveals China’s ‘concern’ over the war in Ukraine. The other uses the meeting as an exercise in China-bashing, stoking unnecessary levels of fear and mistrust.

The first story, published as a print article in RNZ’s ‘News’ section at 12:05 pm, reports Xi’s willingness to work together with Russia but also that Xi has ‘questions and concerns’ about the situation in Ukraine. The authors of the article point out that China hasn’t endorsed Russia’s invasion but has grown trade and other ties with Moscow since it was launched. The article is credited to the BBC.

The second story, posted as an audio recording in RNZ’s ‘Radio’ section at 12:48 pm, contains a previously recorded interview with Professor Anne-Marie Brady. In this interview, Brady quickly segues from the Putin-Xi meeting to state her contrary view that China has been ‘providing support to Russia during the war in Ukraine.’

Brady goes on to describe Xi as a ‘spectacular failure as a leader’ and cites the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation as a ‘China-centred order’, comparing the member countries to those centred around Russia during the Cold War era. Also, as an aside, Brady raises ‘the fear that [Xi] will launch an attack on Taiwan.’

Brady’s interview, introduced by RNZ Midday Report’s Māni Dunlop, is speculation masquerading as news. Her interview is followed by another with Mr Tim Loughton, a British Conservative Party MP, who proceeds to double-down on China. Curiously, Loughton’s interview is not published on the RNZ website.

Loughton’s denunciation of China as a threat to the ‘rules-based international order’ and perpetrator of crimes against humanity is a position promoted by the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, of which Loughton is a member. His membership was not disclosed in the interview. Nor was the fact that Loughton was one of five British MPs banned from entering China, Hong Kong and Macau by the Chinese government in March of last year for spreading ‘lies and disinformation’ about China.

The claims of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China are unfounded. Loughton, like Brady, has an anti-China axe to grind. Apparently, RNZ is happy to provide a media platform for them to do so.

Shame on RNZ for using a genuine news story to stoke further anti-China sentiment. From New Zealand’s publicly funded and independent news source, frankly we expect more.