Chinese journalists see bias in Western coverage of Kunming attack

CHINA - Western media's "double standards" in reporting Saturday's terrorist attack in Kunming, Yunnan province, reflect their ideological bias against China and a lack of professional ethics in journalism, officials and observers said.

On Monday, the All-China Journalists Association condemned major Western media outlets, including CNN and AP, for "turning a blind eye" to the terrorist attack at a Kunming railway station, where 29 people were killed and 143 injured.

Certain media organisations adopted an ambiguous attitude toward the knife-wielding terrorists, calling them "attackers" or "activists" while some even defended the brutal stabbing spree that caused heavy civilian casualties, the association said in a statement.

Three days after the Chinese authority declared the incident was a "terrorist attack", foreign media, such as AP, were still referring to the perpetrators as what "the official Xinhua News Agency said was a 'terrorist gang'" and seek to shift attention from the tragedy by attributing it to "Uygur-Han conflicts".

"The ruthless killing of innocent people by violence and terrorism fully exposed their anti-human, anti-civilization and anti-society nature, and the group of rioters are indisputably terrorists," the association said.

"We call on journalists around the globe to obey the code of press ethics, discard political bias, work together to condemn terrorist violence of any form and uphold righteousness," it said.

The appeal gained resonance from the ongoing second session of the 12th National People's Congress and the Foreign Ministry.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Fu Ying, spokeswoman for the session, called for more understanding and support from the international community for China's fight against terrorism.

Calling the mobs "inhuman killers", Fu said terrorism has no borders and China urges more international understanding and cooperation as it steps up anti-terrorism efforts.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei also urged the world on Tuesday to denounce "unequivocally and unreservedly" similar violent terrorist incidents.

"Terrorists are common enemies of all mankind ... no matter where the incident takes place or who it targets," Hong said.

Experts said that Western media's double standards shown in their reports on Kunming stem from the Cold War mentality of rejecting China based on ideology, which can cloud foreigners' understanding of the incident.

Zhu Lili, a professor of Journalism and Communication at Nanjing University in Jiangsu province, said: "The intensity of the wording is weaker than when they reported on similar cases in London and Boston. The quotation marks show suspicion of China's investigation. The citation of the so-called Uygur-Han conflicts oversimplifies the landscape, trying to justify the cause of the murderers.

"But on the other hand, China also needs to publicize information fully and in a timely manner to make the investigation process transparent and trustworthy," Zhu said.

Zhu said Chinese media should speak louder to convey the truth of the incident and report in various frameworks to inform the global audience.

Misunderstanding exists between Chinese media and their Western counterparts, said a senior Western journalist in Beijing, who has been reporting on China-related news for years.

"Chinese media tend to preconceive the Western ones as not objective, while the Western media tend to believe that Chinese ones are all the governments' mouthpiece," he said after Tuesday's Foreign Ministry news conference on condition of anonymity.

"Changing the situation calls for a boost in communication and exchanges among practitioners of the industry," he said. "The Western media also need to improve and better understand the mentality of Chinese readers."

On Monday, the United States identified the attack in Kunming as "an act of terrorism" and extended its condolences for the loss of life, the US State Department said.

"Based on the information reported by the Chinese media, this appears to be an act of terrorism targeting random members of the public, so we are calling this an act of terrorism," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told a news briefing.

He Liu and Xinhua contributed to this story.

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