I came to experience the country not to promote it, nor to criticise it. I should show all of it, even if some issues are uncomfortable, controversial and unmentionable.
Writing for magazines that only want positive stories, discussion with colleagues who know nothing but the party line, foreigners uninterested in politics and under the pressure of visa renewal. No one wants to be that guy that bangs on about controversial and uncomfortable issues. So the big topics of our time, the questions people don’t ask become The Elephants in the room
Chinese media is no better. It portrays the west as anti-China, governed by incompetent, weak and unpopular leaders. America is seen as a warmonger and bully that controls oil, trade and markets for its own benefit. It interferes with the internal politics of other countries, undermining governments and selectively supporting terrorists while championing peace and democracy. It criticises other countries for human rights abuses whilst being overtly and institutionally racist themselves. The UK does little better. Known as ‘America’s dog’, it’s remembered for burning down the summer palace, stealing land in unfair treaties and in reparation for wars that forced opium addiction and Christianity on its people.
If we are objective, we can recognise the truths in the accounts of our country and its people. But they are nothing like the experiences of our daily lives. So, when this is all we see and hear reported, it’s easy to dismiss these caricatures simply as fake news or propaganda. Social media doesn’t help, with each side just repeating, often aggressively and inaccurately, the same one-sided views that reinforce each other’s ignorance.