All about the Global Times

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All about the Global Times

Last week, CCTV presented an 18-minute report on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s inspection tour of local media. Xi pointed at a copy of Global Times on display and said, “I read this newspaper.” It was unusual for his voice to be broadcast. The Global Times posted on its mobile edition, “All staff were pleasantly surprised. We will work harder.”

The Global Times readership includes not just President Xi but also diplomats and foreign correspondents in Beijing. It is the most accurate media for understanding Beijing’s hard-line positions. It contains unfiltered views like, “Korea should be prepared to pay the price if the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) system is deployed,” and, “As war clouds hang over the Korean Peninsula, Beijing must reinforce military readiness in Northeast China.” It is hard to say these are the average public opinions in China.

When Korean media cite the Global Times, they habitually describe it as “a sister tabloid of the Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper People’s Daily.” Therefore, the tone of the Global Times is often considered the official position of the Chinese authorities. But that’s not true.

Newspapers operated by the party and government publish a “mother” medium representing the official position along with various “children.” The “mother” focuses on the tone and perspective, but the children are in charge of making money. The People’s Daily publishes the Global Times as a for-profit business. The Global Times is more of a commercial newspaper catering to the public. This is not my personal view. Chief Editor of the Global Times Hu Xijin said in a public lecture that the newspaper is more popular press than a state mouthpiece.

Therefore, the newspaper must satisfy the needs of readers. Articles and editorials encourage patriotism and pride of the Chinese people. The Global Times does not hesitate to make exclusivist claims, and I sometimes feel, “Are they looking at all countries other than China as enemies?” It could be seen as the Chinese version of a certain newspaper representing conservative rightist view in Japan.

However, problems arise when Global Times reports are cited by the Korean media and their readers mistake them as the official position of Beijing and China’s overall public opinion. Readers who are not informed of precise circumstances may feel antagonistic towards the Chinese government, and even Chinese society as a whole. Such sentiment can affect our policy decisions. Then, the Global Times would report the anti-Chinese sentiment in Korea, provoking antagonism among Chinese readers, and the vicious cycle continues.

Inspired by Xi Jinping’s comment, the Global Times may become more extreme. But a greater concern is the reckless citation of Global Times’ provocative expressions by Korean media without providing background information.

The author is the Beijing bureau chief of the JoongAng Ilbo.

JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 24, Page 29

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