At least in theory western social media sites are off-limits for People’s Republic citizens, although in reality some get around this. Censorship creates the vacuum that nature abhors, and rumour fills the space. Chinese authorities have started filling the void by relaying selective posts from Twitter and Facebook to Xinhua’s English website. As might be expected, this Chinese lens is discerning in what it reveals.
Western Opinions through Chinese Lens
Xinhua English typically features posts by famous western media like Wall Street Journal, New York Times (both banned), CNN and BBC. Given that Xinhua is the official press agency of the People’s Republic of China, it is unsurprising that this ‘breaking news’ is mostly pure porridge.
What Xinhua Would Have Its Citizens Know
Xinhua cherry-picks western posts that show the West believes that China is a stable nation with able leaders geared to seamlessly deal with challenges. This Chinese lens regularly reflects successes, as for example when the nation rallied to save the seniors from the sunken Hubei ferry with top officials in attendance.
Ann Rand believed that there is no such thing as truth, only reality as we experience it, and that this opens up the possibility of dual reality. The Nazi propagandist Paul Joseph Goebbels believed that if he said anything often enough, the German people would believe it.
Love-Hate Relationship with Twitter and Facebook
Although the public face of the People’s Republic prefers western social media did not exist, in reality it constantly scans them with its Chinese lens to feed its suspicious mind. It also counterattacks the very posts its citizens may not read. China Daily, Xinhua and People’s Daily all have their own English-language Facebook and Twitter accounts. They use these to reflect Beijing’s version of reality outside its borders, as an unconventional user with a selective Chinese lens.