The Free Beacon described the years of “sympathetic” coverage of the Economist magazine about the Chinese company Huawei Technologies. Then the report combined information with some sort of influence by documenting the magazine’s profitable business relationship with the infamous corporate giant. The Free Beacon noted that The Economist did not recognize this economic relationship for nearly a decade.
Huawei’s deep financial and operational ties with the Chinese Communist Party are no secret. The CCP has the final say on Huawei’s international activities. This shows that the CCP was a silent partner in the Huawei-Economist deal.
According to Yuichiro Kakutani’s Free Beacon report from 2012 to 2018, the Economist Intelligence Unit (the magazine’s advisory division) released at least seven reports commissioned by Huawei to “advance its political agendas and address cybersecurity concerns Clear away those of Western governments. “Huawei said the reports had an impact on UK broadband and communications policy.
But here’s the damn quote that implies the news and editorial departments. The magazine itself had “defended Huawei in a cover story in 2012 – the year in which the publication’s consulting department worked with the company”. Titled “Who’s Afraid of Huawei?” The story “accused western countries of using cybersecurity concerns as an excuse to oppose legitimate competition from Huawei.”
I visited The Economist website and read the August 4th 2012 story. The Free Beacon sums it up fairly. The editors of The Economist called Huawei “China’s new world champion”. The article mentioned Chinese cyber espionage, Huawei’s government ties, its “opaque ownership structure and secret culture”, and other security and competition issues – Customs column devoted to the list. However, the editors dismissed these critical questions as “annoying”. This quote shows the editorial stance: “Huawei’s competitors have a vested interest in raising concerns while hiding their own reliance on Chinese subcontractors and subsidies.”
Replacing a boring word with a harsh word is a euphemism. The term “euphemizing” also has a rhetorical meaning: a statement that is characterized by evasive or dismissive language. The Economist’s 2012 Huawei coverage rejects deep national security concerns as anger.
The Free Beacon’s Bottom Line: Chinese money bought favorable (euphemized) treatment, if not cheap coverage, and positive editorial stance in a news and business journal that has long been considered one of the most influential in the world – influential in terms of his editorial acumen, scholarly reporting, and clever story selection. The Economist’s international subscriber base is well educated, affluent and connected.
It appears that the CCP has managed to sway The Economist’s influencers, and not in one or two cases, but for eight critical years. The CCP didn’t just target The Economist. Huawei has tried to co-opt media everywhere. But The Economist is reportedly influencing the influencers in capital cities around the world, which gives it a unique leverage.
For the past two decades, Huawei has conducted espionage operations, extortion, economic corruption and influence on behalf of Beijing while positioning itself to dominate global and regional communications infrastructure and international digital systems.
By the summer of 2020, the UK government was determined to deploy Huawei’s suspicious 5G technology – hence the political influence attributed to the Economist Intelligence Unit reports remained. I bet the magazine’s gentle and euphemized coverage helped put a stop to attempts to contain Huawei’s activities.
The word “influence” dominates this column. “Influence operations” are a major national security issue. Influence operations are difficult to define. In 2009, RAND Corporation offered: “Efforts to influence an audience, whether it be an individual leader, members of a decision-making group, military organizations and personnel, specific population sub-groups, or mass audiences.”
From a Chinese perspective, Hunter Biden’s alleged business deals in China would be viewed as an attempt to influence a single leader.
Congratulations to the Washington Free Beacon for documenting how caustic and effective China’s influence operations can be.
To learn more about Austin Bay and read features from other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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