ESSAY: HAMAS ATTACK AS CHINA SEES IT
CCTV's Xinwen Lianbo and Xinhua News tell the story mostly from one side of the divide -Focus is on Gaza -Israel portrayed as instigator -US blamed for bias and hypocrisy -China feigns neutrality
It’s called the “Palestine-Israel Conflict” in Chinese state TV terminology. The October 8 foreign news on Xinwen Lianbo opens with scenes of Israel bombing a building in Gaza. Joint casualties exceed 660.
The Palestinians are grief-stricken. They are shocked at the Israeli attack. Streets of Gaza filled with emergency vehicles. CCTV gives a Palestinian view of the “conflict.” China state media has good sources in Palestine including Hamas which it quotes, and can field TV crews on the ground, though the footage here is not clearly attributed.
This aerial footage of Israel striking targets on the ground is attributed to Israeli military sources.
More footage from Israeli side:
In keeping with its “neutral” stance, China references the UN where numerous countries call on both sides to stop it.
“Multiple countries call on both sides to exercise restraint to prevent the situation from escalating.”
From the front page of China Daily on October 7, the first day of coverage. It’s not the top story of course, that’s for someone else, but it creates the false impression that Israel started it, leaving out the massive surprise attack by Hamas killing hundreds.
This is perhaps the first report in the Chinese state media in English on the Hamas attack, quoting Hamas official Mohammed al-Deif exactly two hours after the surprise strike was launched.
An early Xinhua report offers some balance to the generally pro-Palestinian coverage, highlighting Israeli casualties in the “surprise offensive” by Hamas. It quotes Netanyahu saying “We are at war.”
This report caused a double-take as it looked like China was condemning the violence but it turns out to be about an incident in Syria involving a drone and does not address the Hamas surprise attack or Israeli reaction to it.
Again, Xinhua privileges its sources in Hamas by airing the Hamas claim of firing 150 rockets at Israel in “response” to the strike on a residential tower, omitting mention of the 3000 plus rockets fired previously and without warning.
Before the smoke has even had a chance to clear, anti-US agenda is attended to by Chinese scribes in Beijing, casting blame on the US for its “biased position” and hypocrisy.
Near the bottom it is acknowledged that Hamas, “the ruler of the Gaza strip” undertook a “sudden military operation” involving thousands of rockets.
It also credits Israel with a “response” rather than an unprovoked attack.
The view from Beijing seems to harden with his next piece, in which the tried-and true technique of using sock puppets to express Chinese thinking without having to attribute it to a Chinese source is utilized. What about???
What about the legitimate rights of the Palestinians and their independent state?
Sudan, hardly a model of peace and good governance itself, gets prominently quoted as a proxy for views that align with the view from Beijing.
The Xinhua news wire reports show an editorial bias to the side that launched the attack. This is screen grab from Xinhua’s website on Saturday which cover, in reverse chronological order, articles posted 12+ hours after the Hamas surprise attack which was launched on October 7 at 11:30 AM, Beijing time.
Xinhua quotes Abu Obida, a spokesperson for the “Al-Qassam Brigades”
The first scenes of the “conflict as reported by Xinwen Lianbo on October 7 are mostly scenes recorded from inside Gaza along with the plumes of rocket fire.
The chyron reads:
“Israel-Palestine large-scale conflict breaks out causing serious casualities”
The news report also includes footage from Al Aqsa Mosque which Hamas is using as a rallying cry in its “Al Aqsa Flood” campaign against Israel. CCTV includes recent footage of Israeli troops in the mosque which is located at a long-contested and sensitive site also known as Temple on the Mount.
The extensive coverage of October 7, 2023 concludes with archival footage from October 5, which CCTV presents in a manner that suggests an Israeli provocation.
“Israel troops launch search operation on the West Bank of the Jordan River.”
Editor’s note: The scale and consummate coordination with which the massive coordinated sneak attack of thousands of rockets and some 27 violent border breaks involving thousands of armed rampaging men and a fleet of motorized paragliders suggests, contrary to CCTV’s attempt to make this look like a tit-for-tat, that the Hamas attack is a major offensive long in the planning, a go-for-broke offensive of sorts, and one that bears the likely support of Iran and could lead to a widening gyre of regional violence.