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The West’s errant conception of China

China has entered a new era in building socialism with Chinese characteristics. The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China has mapped out plans for the new era. The Western media is taking great interest in what is happening in China and many mainstream media outlets in the US and Europe have given a lot of coverage of the event to cater to the public need. But some Western journalists do not show professionalism in their coverage and their reporting remains ideologically superficial and does not get the gist of China’s new era.
The Western media’s coverage of China in recent years generally recognizes the basic fact of China’s development and changes but their understanding misses the point of the true nature of China’s development. Their perception of China’s development path and future is absolute and lacks openness. They don’t want to see China’s success and such a subjective conception has penetrated the whole process in their understanding of China and led to their conclusion that China will not succeed.
We must admit that the Western media’s observation and analysis of China have erred. As a result, their perception of China is misleading, based on the following gauges.
First, they believe that the closer China’s development path and political goals get to the West’s political system and development model, the more China is on the right path. Once they believe China shows signs of diverging from the Western path and moving ahead faster, they consider it a wrong, dangerous direction.
Second, they believe that China’s development should focus on consolidating the West’s vested interests or helping the West safeguard their interests. China can have its own interests but China’s interests should not override those of the West and attempt to change the current world order. Otherwise, China’s development is deemed negative and challenges the world order.
Third, they believe that China’s development should not challenge the “universal values” upheld by the West. So-called universal values refer to the value system formed during the process of development of Western society, which actually parallels the continuous expansion of Western interests. Therefore, in reality and in international politics, “universal values” have to a large extent integrated with Western interests. The clashes of other value systems with “universal values” constitute an offense against Western interests. The further Western interests expand, the more frequently a clash occurs with different value systems. This becomes a major problem between China and the West.
Humanity’s knowledge and experience of self-governance is still deficient. It is impossible to establish an absolute criterion to gauge which development path is superior to the other. Instead it can only be tested by practice. In other words, the only criterion to assess China’s development path is whether it can contribute to the rapid progress of China and whether it can allow the general public to share the dividend of the country’s progress. International factors can also be considered. But such a gauge must focus on whether China’s development contributes to world peace. Factors such as whether the West appreciates or applauds China’s progress should not be given priority.
Generally speaking, public opinion in the West toward China’s rapid development is very complicated. This is understandable. The Western media’s conception of China represents their sentiment in the West which is far from having adapted to China’s rise. Their anxiety over China’s rise leads to their paranoia and unreasonable belief that “the West is all right and China is all wrong.” The influence of the Western press used to be overwhelming but the internal chaos and divide in the West weakens their position. The influence of the Western press is shrinking.
China in the new era is more and more confident. The breathless pace of development and ever-changing dynamics over the past decades reinforce China’s confidence. China can only succeed by following the path that is in line with its national condition. China cannot replicate others’ experience, particularly with its political system. This is the consensus of Chinese society. Therefore the incorrect coverage of China by the Western press can only mislead its own society and its disturbing influence on China is increasingly diluted.
(Editorial in Global Times)

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