As many people know, China doesn’t have a good reputation in the media, especially in the West. There’re a lot of issues ranging from regional disputes to environmental conservation where China is often criticized and with reason. Yet at times, the criticism can be misleading or biased. This New York Times article is an example. It’s not me who’s making these claims, it’s another major newspaper, the UK’s Guardian, which calls out the NY Times for its bias in an article in which China is criticized for, apparently, obeying international law and refraining from assassinating a drug lord hiding in a neighboring country. The drug lord was wanted for masterminding the murder of 13 Chinese sailors on two cargo ships on the Mekong River. As he was proving to be quite elusive, China considered using an aerial drone to kill him, something which the US has proven very skilled at, but eventually declined. Another interesting fact is that nine Thai soldiers were involved in the murders of the Chinese sailors. Can you imagine soldiers of one country killing 13 individuals of another country? I think China deserves plaudits for serious restraint in the way it hunted down the drug lord and moved to create joint patrols to police the Mekong where the murders happened.
The core of the Guardian article is that China could have, but ultimately refrained from using an unmanned drone to kill the drug kingpin, due in large part to consideration of international law. In contrast to a certain superpower which does this with somewhat reckless abandon in the Middle East and Central Asia.
At first read, the NY Times piece seems to be rather straightforward- China caught a major crime figure who ordered the deaths of 13 Chinese, using its influence and resources to get neighboring countries to cooperate. But the Guardian writer is incisive enough to show the subtle ways how the Times writer tried to portray China in a negative light unfairly. The Times’ article’s headline itself implies that China was being a regional bully “Beijing Flaunts Cross-Border Clout in Search for Drug Lord.”
The Guardian writer does a good job to sum up the hypocrisy of the Times coverage:
“So even when China refuses to use weapons the US routinely uses, by citing precepts of international law, respect for the sovereignty of neighboring countries and at least the pretense of due process, this shows that China is a growing threat to US interests in the region….. The fact that China’s restraint is depicted in US media circles as evidence of the growing threat it poses highlights the mindset that drives this.”