No coincidences in politics, it's all one big US theatrical game

Tom Fowdy
The United States and the mainstream media it influences are the masters of depicting world events in a theatrical-like fashion in a bid to pursue American foreign policy goals.
Tom Fowdy

There are few coincidences in politics. The United States and the mainstream media it influences are the masters of depicting world events in a theatrical-like fashion. That is, the ability to create a stage show of a "problem" with amplified coverage, to manufacture outrage and attention, and then of course to parachute their own foreign policy proposals in as the solution.

I have learnt this through experience. It became obvious to me by 2020-2021 that the "leaks" of Xinjiang-related stories and content about China to the mainstream media, including the BBC, were always coincidentally coordinated by foreign policy priorities and goals pursued by the US government.

Such as, for example, early that year the BBC released a feature story it pushed very aggressively alleging "rape" of Uygur detainees, right in the run up to the US push for coordinated sanctions with the European Union and allies against Xinjiang, with the specific objective of arousing opposition to the "Comprehensive Agreement on Investment" (CAI).

Or alternatively, how the deliberate release of "forced labor" stories coincided with planned US bans on the import of Chinese-made solar panels and other goods, using this premise. In each instance, the US was coordinating the narrative deliberately and presenting the flow of events as a "theatrical show."

As a further example, when I was 18 years old, I remember how the mainstream media in Britain began excessively placing emphasis on Muammar Qaddafi in Libya and the emerging civil war (which was backed by Western powers).

I remember how it created a build-up of fear over his planned military action against the city of Benghazi, accusing him of killing civilians and thus created a "moral alarm" of "we need to act!" which, not surprisingly, culminated in the NATO-backed bombing campaign which was not a "no-fly zone to protect civilians" as marketed, but very much an effort to oust his regime.

For me, this moment was also a geopolitical turning point in history specifically because it was the last successful Western military regime change to occur, and exacerbated the distrust of Russia and China.

But going back to theatrics, again I observe the US has launched a new propaganda offensive against China. It might be added that through its unparalleled influence of the mainstream media, the US ultimately has control of the direction the relationship is "steered" in by creating the illusion of reality through these theatrics.

If it wants to escalate, it will deliberately leak or amplify negative and tension-building stories, such as the Xinjiang ones, but if it wants to de-escalate, such coverage is noticeably toned down. In doing so, the US also has firm control of the political direction in which its allies take and uses the flow of "narrative" and "debate" to subsequently limit or contain their engagement with China to their own devices. Hence, as I mentioned at the beginning, this is what the 2021 Xinjiang propaganda offensive is all about.

Therefore, this new "propaganda offensive" is tailored to a similar thing, which is targeted at Europe with the goal of undermining a new wave of engagement between Beijing and EU state leaders.

Recently, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited China. The US and its proxies find this kind of engagement disdainful as they are determined to push Berlin onto a different course. It's said that soon Italian leaders will also visit China, despite the US having strong-armed Rome into withdrawing from the Belt & Road Initiative.

How does the US respond to this? The way it always does, by deliberately unleashing negative news and pushing narratives with the goal of driving a wedge into China's relations with these countries.

This time around, the US is pushing hard to frame China as a backer and player in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. As always, there has been concerted press coverage focused on the matter, such as Beijing's exports, while unsurprisingly these "leaks" have been backed up with political rhetoric from key figures such as Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell.

Also, unusually, there has been a sudden surge of "spy scandal" stories, particularly in Germany, with people being arrested on accusation of colluding with Beijing.

As I have said before, it is important to note in all circumstances that the definition of a "spy" is ambiguous and shifts in accordance with political boundaries and objectives.

The CIA, after all, never gets prosecuted for its actions in Western countries, does it? So we might wonder why these stories have come to surface at this specific moment. As I have stated, there are no coincidences in politics, it's all one big, theatrical game.

(The author, a postgraduate student of Chinese studies at Oxford University, is an English analyst on international relations. The views are his own.)

Special Reports