Sunday, November 24

China claims control of airspace over disputed islands; BBC minimizes the story

The exact phrasing used by a news organization to describe an event tell you how they want readers to interpret it.

Example:  At 1 a.m. Saturday morning China activated a so-called "air defense identification zone" over islands claimed by it and Japan.  If you're not an international-relations junkie that act sounds pretty innocuous, but in reality it's nothing less than a brazen effort by China to increase its claim to the disputed territory.

Responsible nations wouldn't seek to provoke a fight.  China--knowing it has the largest and best-equipped military in the western Pacific, and wanting to prove it--is itching for one.

So check out the phrasing used by the BBC:
China has demarcated an “air-defence identification zone” over an area of the East China Sea, covering islands that are also claimed by Japan.  China’s Defence Ministry said aircraft entering the zone must obey its rules or face “emergency defensive measures.”  The zone came into effect from 10:00 local time (02:00GMT) on Saturday.
The use of the passive tense ("came into effect") gives the impression that it wasn't an act of aggression by China--perish the thought!--but rather something that just happened all by itself.

The British have a long history of trying to avoid bad news by reporting it as innocuous.  Before WW2 the Brit press devoted a huge number of stories to praising Adolf Hitler as a trustworthy statesman.  So we can expect they'll side with China and try to rationalize every act of aggression/expansion as totally reasonable.


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