Near-total silence on US midterms from Chinese media
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As the world closely watched the results of the U.S. midterm elections trickle in, Chinese state media was notably quiet. The limited coverage that did break through attempted to portray the United States as an angry society that resorts to violence during polls.
Semafor analyzed several broadcast and newspaper headlines in the Sinosphere. Here’s what we found.
As of Nov. 10, there has been virtually no major coverage from some of China's most consumed news sources including People's Daily, the Communist Party's mouthpiece, the state-owned Xinhua News Agency, and "Xinwen Lianbo," the flagship evening news show from China's largest TV network CCTV.
Only People's Daily ran a back-page article on Thursday recapping how an official from China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs described the election as America's "internal affairs," emphasizing that there needs to be stronger U.S.-China relations regardless of the election outcome.
Xinhua News only ran one short story under its international news tab on Wednesday, with the headline: “U.S. midterm election exit polls: Majority of voters view U.S. status quo negatively.” The article recapped how most voters saw inflation as their top worry, and did not provide any election result updates.
In the days before the election, Xinhua appeared to magnify Americans' distrust in the election system and their concerns about potential violence during the polls following the recent attack on Paul Pelosi, husband of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
On Nov. 7, Xinhua published an article about a "sharp rise in midterm election complaints across the U.S." even though the Associated Press story they rehashed information from only detailed complaints in Oregon and Idaho.
Joshua Kurlantzick, a China media analyst and journalist, told Semafor that the Chinese media silence stemmed from the fear authoritarian regimes have about the democratic process.
"Beijing generally doesn’t want to highlight that other countries have free elections and that they can be unpredictable," he said.
Taiwanese media offered more detailed coverage of the U.S. midterm elections on Tuesday and Wednesday, albeit most articles and broadcast segments were pushed behind domestic news updates.
One article from the Liberty Times, Taiwan's largest newspaper, detailed how regardless of which party takes control of each chamber, the U.S. will continue to implement "tough-on-China" policies in a rare moment of bi-partisan agreement, noting that Republicans, however, have a more aggressive stance when it comes to Taiwanese sovereignty.
"There is a strong consensus on the threat posed [from China], so even after the election, [Robert Ross, a China expert at Boston College] believes that the National Defense Act and the Taiwan Policy Act will not be affected." -- Liberty News Taiwan
Both newspapers and broadcast news in Hong Kong detailed how there was no "red wave" Republican victory that many American and international news outlets expected.
The primetime evening news segment of TVB News — one of Hong Kong's most-watched TV channels — appeared to lay the blame on former U.S. President Donald Trump for the GOP's disappointing results, highlighting how many of the proposals echoed by Trump-backed candidates may have been too controversial for voters.
"U.S. President Joe Biden celebrated his party's win in the high-stakes midterm elections, hailing it as a good day for democracy and America. Part of the reason is that the Gen Z vote out-trumped Trump supporters." -- TVB news anchor