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‘Full of loopholes’: China’s People’s Daily hits back after Pompeo blasts paper for rejecting US envoy’s piece

‘Full of loopholes’: China’s People’s Daily hits back after Pompeo blasts paper for rejecting US envoy’s piece
People’s Daily has said it is free to scrutinize pieces pitched to them, including a US ambassador’s op-ed which was rejected for being “inconsistent with facts.” The spat comes as US-China tensions hit new highs.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo locked horns with People’s Daily – an official newspaper of the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) central committee and, in Pompeo’s words, “the main propaganda newspaper” – after it refused to publish a piece by Terry Branstad, the US ambassador to China.

Pulling no punches when commenting on the refusal, the secretary of state said on Wednesday that Chinese officials are seizing on “our vibrant and confident democracy” in being able to talk directly to the Americans. Nevertheless, the “hypocritical” Beijing shows that it fears “free speech and serious intellectual debate” by refusing the publication.

Unsurprisingly, the diatribe could not be left unanswered by People’s Daily. A day later, it produced a lengthy statement, accusing Washington of “political suppression and persecution against Chinese press outlets in the United States with a Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice.” The paper then invoked some basic logic to return the “hypocrisy” blame. 

The US, on the one hand, claims that People’s Daily and other Chinese media are the CPC’s ‘propaganda machines,’ but demands that the ‘propaganda machines’ do propaganda for the United States, which is illogical, overbearing and unreasonable.

Rolling on, the newspaper reiterated that Branstad’s op-ed in question was “full of loopholes” and “seriously inconsistent with facts.” Equating itself with the US media, People’s Daily said the newspaper is free to decide on articles being pitched to them and reject publishing those containing “factual mistakes” and “filled with prejudice.”

On a more emollient note, it invited the author to make “substantive revisions” in order to get published. “On this basis, we are willing to maintain contact and communication with the US embassy,” the paper said.

The refusal by People’s Daily follows a US decision to cancel over 1,000 visas of Chinese nationals this week, citing national security concerns.

That aside, the two nations are waging another feud in the media realm. Earlier this year, the State Department announced restrictions on five Chinese media outlets for being allegedly employed to spread pro-Beijing propaganda. It added four more others to the list in June, declaring them “foreign missions” and saying they are “effectively controlled” by the Chinese government – among them Global Times, People’s Daily and China Central Television.

In a tit-for-tat response, Beijing mandated Associated Press (AP), CBS News, National Public Radio (NPR) and United Press International (UPI) to detail information about their staff, operations, and property back in July.

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