“The irony is exquisite”: Is Phoenix trying to ruin the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s credibility?

Today China’s major websites appear to have been instructed to prominently publicize Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin’s comment [EN] about the recent Sino-Vietnamese agreement on the South China Sea dispute having nothing to do with any other country.

Liu was responding, mundanely, to Philippines President Aquino’s equally mundane reiteration that only multilateral negotiations can solve the dispute.

But Sina, Sohu, Netease, Phoenix and QQ all have the story on the front page of their news sites, the latter three particularly prominently. Beneath the main headline “Foreign Ministry: China and Vietnam solving their maritime disputes has nothing to do with any third country” there appear links to reports about the announcement of the joint declaration and Aquino’s protest, and this is the case on both Netease, Phoenix and QQ, a good indication that some kind of edict is governing the story’s treatment.

While evidently toeing the line and following instructions, however, Phoenix seems to have slipped a sneaky little spanner into the propaganda machine as it works to sell the government’s latest diplomatic achievement. Below the headline, Phoenix has helpfully added a third subsidiary link, to a story from 6 days ago titled, “India, Vietnam sign agreement, will exploit oil in disputed areas of the SCS”.

This story was a translated summary of AP’s report outlining Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang’s trip to New Delhi to oversee the signing of a new accord between Indian and Vietnamese state-owned oil companies’ to promote oil exploration in Vietnamese-claimed waters. President Truong’s trip took place precisely as Vietnamese Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong was over in Beijing, signing the above-mentioned joint declaration with China – a very inconvenient dampener on the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s happy tale of Sino-Vietnamese agreement.

With the stories placed alongside one another, the obvious conclusion was not lost on readers, as the top comments from the 41,000-strong Phoenix discussion indicate:

Is this diplomatic wisdom? [5597 recommends]

Sign agreements with both sides, masterstroke. [4012]

Compare this with the so-called agreement between China and Vietnam . . . the irony is exquisite! Well done, Vietnamees! [4009]


One Comment on ““The irony is exquisite”: Is Phoenix trying to ruin the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s credibility?”

  1. […] This looks, then, like another example of a hardline editorialising at Phoenix on a foreign policy issue. That list has been growing since mid-2011, when early posts on here kept encountering the site’s overwhelmingly Maoist comment threads on the South China Sea issue. Since then it has often been the strongest of the five major mainstream portals in emphasising PRC-Philippines conflicts in its headlines. […]


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