Pacific Dialogue
Double standards, double blades
By Liang Xiao  ·  2021-04-25  ·   Source: NO.17 APRIL 29, 2021

Despite strong opposition from its own people and neighboring countries, the Japanese Government has asserted its decision to discharge the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant's wastewater into the Pacific Ocean. Western societies, headed by the U.S., however, have thus far managed to provide a display of unprecedented generosity toward Japan. U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken publicly "thanked" Japan for "its transparent efforts in its decision to dispose of the treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi site." Mainstream media outlets across the West issued their reports with relative objectivity that same day, but the influx of news simmered down within a week. It seems no one cares enough to follow up on the progress. 

It stands in sharp contrast that the Occident stays cool in the face of Japan's misdemeanor, but splits hairs when it comes to China. If the Chinese Government were to act this irresponsibly, how would they respond? The Chernobyl disaster in the Soviet Union is a case in point. The year was 1986. The West propagandized the severity of this accident, harshly condemning the inadequate response and complete disregard for human life on the part of the Soviet Union Government, and even added the term "Chernobyl moment" to the overall vocabulary in reference to a catastrophe. This nuclear accident, in a way, acted as one of the catalysts for the collapse of the Soviet Union. The nuclear accident of Fukushima, graded level seven, has been another one of the most serious nuclear meltdowns in history. However, it came and went nearly unnoticed by Western critics, and Japan's plans to release the nuclear wastewater into the Pacific were hailed as a "proper response."

Apparently, the evaluation criteria for good or bad do not root in the nature of the conduct but in the "moral camp" one country is assigned to. An ally is always right; a rival, and China in particular, is always wrong.

To use that approach to comment on China issues is both over-simplistic and problematic.

If Western states insist on confusing right and wrong by adopting double standards, their people will find it hard to distinguish between truth and tale. For instance, the terrorists from Chechnya, Russia, and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China, were glorified as "freedom fighters," with their acts of violence downplayed to the extreme. Two terrorist attacks, one in Beijing on October 28, 2013, and the other in Kunming on March 1, 2014, were portrayed across the Western media as protests instigated by "Uygur-Han Chinese conflict" together with the "widespread discrimination against ethnic minorities in China." Similar terrorist attacks also occurred in Europe. On March 24, 2017, a ramming attack took place in London. On October 2 that very same year, two young women were stabbed to death in Marseille. It is hard to say whether or not the culprits behind these two terrorist attacks considered their acts to be in protest of tyranny. 

The embrace of double standards on behalf of their media has fallen into the tool pool that Western governments dip into when engaging in propaganda warfare. Without the supervision of public opinion, governments have swayed to the more irresponsible end of the spectrum, casting disaster onto all. One more example to illustrate this perspective. As the COVID-19 epidemic surged in the beginning of 2020, the British Government, with no adequate scientific verification whatsoever, put forward the cure of "herd immunity." It did not prepare anything to effectively enter the battle against the epidemic, sticking to the naïve notion that the coronavirus was a mere influenza strain and people could automatically acquire immunity.

The loss of so many lives caused by the initial failure cannot be recovered and no politicians were punished for this "manslaughter." The Western media, however, had no qualms smearing China's anti-epidemic plans. This is a blatant failure on the fronts of journalistic ethics, professional integrity and the fulfillment of the social responsibilities of mass media.

The West's pride and prejudice have resulted in the global spread of the coronavirus. If they continue to turn a blind eye to Japan's discharge of nuclear wastewater into the Pacific, they risk setting in motion an unpredictable and irreversible chain of events that might negatively impact all of mankind.

Copyedited by Elsbeth van Paridon 

Comments to liuyunyun@bjreview.com 

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