A state-run Chinese newspaper has run a commentary condemning the terror attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine, but at the same time underlined how the incident exposes the dangers of press freedom.
“We notice that many Western leaders and mainstream media outlets highlighted their support for press freedom when commenting on the incident. This remains open to question,” ran the commentary in the Global Times newspaper, part of the group that publishes the official Communist Party newspaper, the People’s Daily.
China’s media are all state-controlled and content is heavily censored, and the ruling Communist Party keeps a tight grip on dissenting views and rejects calls for greater press freedom, saying it is Western core value.
The attack should make Western governments and media rethink their approach to press freedom when it comes to causing conflict with other cultures.
“But in these globalized times, when their acts contradict with the core values of other societies, the West should have the awareness to ease conflicts, instead of heightening them in accordance with its own values in a zero-sum manner,” it said.
The commentary said that Western dominance of global opinion meant non-Western societies had difficulties getting disagreements heard by the world.
“If the West thinks of globalization as an absolute expansion and victory of certain values, then it is in for endless trouble,” it said.
Last month the Global Times slammed Sony’s North Korean-baiting comedy The Interview, saying it was evidence of Hollywood’s “senseless cultural arrogance”.
Chinese President Xi Jinping this week sent a message of condolences to his French counterpart, Francois Hollande, over Wednesday’s attack in Paris and strongly condemned the attack.
The Global Times said the attack required “resolute response and crackdown”, but it complained about the “lack of firmness” in the West when responding to terror attacks in China and Russia.
China is offended by the way Western media and governments hesitate to use the word “terrorist” to describe attacks in the mostly Muslim region of Xinjiang, where around 150 people died in violence last year, which the government blames on separatist violence by local Uighurs. China has long claimed militants in the region are trying to introduce an extreme form of Islam, but human rights groups believe Beijing exaggerates the threat to justify harsh controls.
“Even after China officially determines their terrorist nature, Western mainstream media puts quotation marks when describing these bloody assaults as “terrorist,” saying that it is a claim of the Chinese government. This always upsets Chinese people,” the op-ed said.
“It’s inspiring that mainstream opinion worldwide supports Paris. But if the West can be milder in expressing cultural clashes and consider the feelings of many others, it would be very rewarding and respectable.”