As far as Chinese state media is concerned, the front-page headline event from the 2020 U.N. General Assembly was U.S. President Donald Trump’s address.
Of course, since Trump was sharply critical of China in his speech, Chinese coverage has been universally negative, but Trump seems to have a tight grip on the front pages of Chinese Communist papers while Chinese dictator Xi Jinping receives only cursory coverage below the fold.
Some of the big Trump headlines in China’s Global Times over the past two days included “Chinese Mission to the U.N. Rejects the Attack and Slander Against China In the Statement of the U.S. At the General Debate of the 75th Session of the U.N. General Assembly,” “Why Trump’s Shock Speech Cannot Split the U.N.,” “Trump’s U.N. Address Censured,” and “U.S. Fails to Act Like a Major Power at the U.N.”
Rounding out the front page of the latest edition of the Global Times was a slam at Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for daring to give a speech in Wisconsin in which he warned American politicians to be careful what they say around Chinese diplomats. The Global Times sputtered that Chinese diplomats never spy on anyone or interfere in the affairs of other nations and diagnosed Pompeo as suffering from “anti-China delusions.”
The much greater volume of sputtering directed at Trump was prompted by him blaming China for the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus. Article after article in the Global Times fulminated at Trump for daring to “smear” Beijing, which is only trying to help the world recover from the pandemic and has demonstrated its good global citizenship by making some promises about going green in 2060 to combat climate change.
“Obviously, Trump does not regard the UN as a platform for cooperation — he just views it as an arena to play out the ‘games’ among the great powers,” another editorial alleged, lavishing praise on the U.N. as the great vehicle for globalism.
The Chinese editorialists happily parroted left-wing U.S. media outlets that portrayed Trump as isolated and lonely at the U.N., supposedly limping back to Washington in defeat after failing to convince the world to hold China accountable for the coronavirus or reimpose sanctions on Iran.
“Any responsible media and country will not join his anti-China camp as they know that the Trump administration’s unilateralism and hegemony will make them suffer, and the U.S. will end up being isolated from the rest of the world,” a handy “Chinese expert” predicted in one lengthy critical screed.
Xi, on the other hand, received much briefer and less prominent coverage from the Global Times. One article simply printed the transcript of his U.N. speech in full, another was a one-sentence post that saluted Xi for “putting people and life first in battling Covid-19 [Chinese coronavirus],” and a brief editorial applauded him for sending “another stern message opposing U.S. unilateralism and hegemony,” which is Chinese Communist Party code for “stop hassling us about spreading the coronavirus and using forced labor.”
The most in-depth coverage provided of Xi’s speech by the Global Times largely quoted Chinese officials and academics agreeing with the authoritarian president and claiming Trump was razzed behind the scenes at the U.N. by numerous nameless countries that were afraid to criticize him publicly. The same standardized praise for “multilateralism” was repeatedly endlessly in all of the articles, even as the Chinese paper criticized Trump for “offering nothing of substance in his speech.”