Angela Köckritz and German DIE ZEIT embrace for yet another round of China-bashing

Angela Koeckritz and DIE ZEIT throw China tantrum: We are so oppressed

German Media, As Always Faster Than Justice, Throws China Tantrum: People, We are so oppressed! [Angela Köckritz: ‘Sie haben Anwalt Zhou’]

HAMBURG – Crass and disturbing piece by Angela Köckritz, ‘China correspondent’ for DIE ZEIT, parading her emotional baggage and anti-China sentiments before the latest crackdown on corrupt lawyers in China. It makes for fascinating reading largely because she is so rich of victim-mentality. She doesn’t even hide her political motives of regime change, and at the same time exposes her own totalitarian beliefs.

First of all, China oppresses its people. Everything is oppression. China must be freed from oppression by Western white knights. If someone is arrested in Germany, it is because they’ve committed a crime. If someone in China is arrested, it is because they were human rights activists or democrats. If you don’t accept this ‘good West vs. evil China’ narrative, that’s probably because you hate freedom, despise Western values, or worse, you collaborate with China.

READ: The Rising Cult of China Experts

Second, China has no rule of law. You can see that, because Ms. Köckritz, the German media, German politicians, and even a German foreign minister all tried confidently and without shame to “influence” the process. They failed. So, they felt offended. What went wrong in history that white man (or woman) cannot blackmail Asian bureaucrats anymore? Don’t those Chinese policemen and the courts know who DIE ZEIT is? We will ruin your reputation, humiliate your families, and demonize your entire nation for this insult and lack of reason. Beware of the wrath of a revengeful foreign correspondence club.

In fact, whenever you read that ‘China has no rule of law’, you may as well see it as media code for Western powers losing control over Chinese internal affairs, or Western organizations not having it their way in the kingdom.

Third, Ms. Köckritz is accusing everyone else of doing what she does, namely judging people without a trial, trying to coerce police and intimidate justice workers, and abusing her guanxi with the diplomats and politicians. Ah, but is only corruption if the Chinese are doing it. She once idiotically described how she knowingly broke the law (not registering her Chinese assistant) just to see what happens (the assistant got arrested), participated in anti-government protests, and called up her buddies from the German embassy to limousine her to Beijing’s international airport, pretending she was a damsel and had to flee the country. If I as I man had the audacity to entertain the entire German diplomatic corps about my celebrity departure, they would have kicked me in the nuts. Her dramatic departure, it turns out, was staged and sensationalized, but is –to her defense- a common trope in China: If you leave, and you absolutely must leave, then you’d better say that you were forced to do so. That serves two purposes: a) it gets you in good standing in the West, or even attracts media coverage; b) it clears your good name in case anybody back in the West accuses you of conspiracy, treason, or treachery to the Western cause.

READ: The Perils of Being Associated With China

DIE ZEIT decided to prominently soap-box Ms. Köckritz. The weekly publication, known for its overtly negative China reports and its heavy censorship of oppositional views, lets her reign supreme when she depicts China as a living communist hell, with herself as the heroic fighter for justice. It shows how little she understands of history, culture, and politics. Maybe Germany, her country, needs to be permanently attacked by a vastly superior media power for Ms. Köckritz to learn the lesson of humility.

It is understood that she thought to parrot those press soldiers at The New York Times or The National Interest (etc.) who are at open media war with China and are pushing for regime change. US media are frequently dropping ‘atomic bombs’ on Chinese politics. It is brutal, it is hostile, it is dehumanizing. They do everything except killing each other -for now. Treat yourself if you want to join the onslaught; only one word of caution here: The USA is a superpower-sized media war-machine, and is able to back up its agents, terror operations, and its press soldiers with the threat of military interventions; Germany is not. DIE ZEIT is a midget compared to the NYT, and Ms. Köckritz’s whiny, sentimental diary pales in comparison to, say, NYT Didi Tang’s cool-headed ‘China crackdown targets ‘rights defenders’. Germany is out of its league, and it stands to reason whether our journalists should queue like tugs to steal a free kick to the head of a nation that’s being gang-raped by empire.

DIE ZEIT ought to know its place and think five times before spreading cheap propaganda against the Chinese nation. This is China, not Greece. Germany isn’t even a name in the book of great powers, and if US-China relations should improve, Germany could quickly become a punch ball for the real bully on this planet. German media must be more diplomatic. Do not follow that ugly empire that the United States has become. They turn on Europe the first sign you have dreams of your own. Don’t they already wiretap your chancellor, ministers, newspapers, and the entire German population?

Mr. Köckritz’s articles are all back-referential, meaning she’s building up a pile of anti-China tales that will have new readers wondering why for the love of impartiality is she being so angry. The motto seems to be: ‘Please refer to my previous history of abuses – I was wronged in China’. Everything is oppression because she’s a victim and because she said so. No fact-checking, not investigation. Just endless snowballing. ‘Freedom is under attack’ -that is the underlying propaganda message here. What do we do? This tendency for journalists to become the heroes in their own stories is now common in China. Some of the China correspondents for The New York Times, for example, became famous not for their reports (journalism is about other people’s fame, no?), but for manufacturing their own autobiographical narrative of prosecution and survival. It’s all about them. From a legal point of view, such behavior is to be expected if you give a drama and attention-seeking profession the ‘fool’s license’ to write anything it wants. Naturally, some press soldiers will want to abuse their ‘press freedom’ for their political activism, information warfare, subversion, and, ultimately, for personal branding.

RELATED When Journalists ARE the story: Angela Köckritz

While almost unthinkable in Germany (at least for now), in Anglophone societies it is common practice for foreign correspondents to assume the role of global experts (pundits/public intellectuals) on foreign policy, cultures, languages, international relations, gender studies, economics, whatever they choose. They often zigzag the entire range of the humanities, no credentials required, while Germans, based on their rigid education system, are glued to the narrow subject they’ve studied and have degrees to show for.

The advantages of the former are unbelievable flexibility and access to the mass media, thus mass audiences –more than any real scholar could dream of. More so, the journalists-turned-experts, even if absolutely untrained, now get to decide which scholar is coming in the news. That’s when those journalists form nasty old-boy schools and start to cross-reference each other’s works as if they were reliable sources or eminent authorities in their field. Then a befriended professor is quoted in the text as well, not so much to support the argument, but to elevate the journalist and her friends to expert status.

Given the absolute lawlessness in journalism (freedom of speech) combined with total lack of credentials (they often don’t even read Chinese), superior channels of mass distribution (the NYT has six China correspondents, one for every 200 million Chinese), it isn’t difficult to see who, in a philosophical sense of the discourse, is the abuser and who is the abused: The abused is not the media here, it is the Chinese society. The media manufactures consent, generalizes, shoe-horses, spreads rumors, fabricates sensational stories, yet China is not given the right to defend itself because her position, too, is manipulated and revised through the lenses of Western journalists -the gatekeepers at the Western ministry of truth. No other class of human beings has been bestowed upon their narrow heads such power as to do as they please – disrupting nations, destroying reputations, dislodging governments – without having to fear the slightest consequences. (We recall US media’s frantic support of the War on Iraq, the containment of Russia, the demonization of China, etc.).

Journalists like Ms. Köckritz play the damsel in distress in China, trying to offend as many people as possible, and when consequences arrive, she feels confirmed in her mental illness that everyone in China is out to get her. Then she goes to find cases to support her ‘theory’. This, of course, is the very formula of authoritarianism. It is precisely what she accuses China of: Constantly embracing victimhood by pointing fingers to evil oppressors (Western powers). Hypocrisy? I think so.

Isn’t it quite revealing when she throws the ‘Nazi’ and the ‘Stasi’ tropes into her reports, craving for our attention and our empathy? After all, who would side with Nazis and the Stasi on this, no one. She must be right. It is understandable that Ms. Köckritz has no intention to discuss her theories with critics. Critics must be censored. They are all Nazi, Stasi, dictators, trolls, and oppressors of freedom.

One paragraph in particular punched me in the head:

“When security agencies may do as they please, arbitration rules. Where even the manner in which lawyer Zhou was led away suggests that [they] don’t even make the effort to maintain a semblance of the rule of law.”

This is precisely the definition of her journalism, just by other names. So, it is true what the psychologists say, that authoritarian personalities mirror their own twisted ‘victim mentality’ onto their enemies. Let us shine some light on Ms. Köckritz crazy psychology by reading the paragraph again, this time with the media as its subject:

“When Western media do as they please, arbitration rules. Where even the manner in which China was reported suggests that [journalists] don’t even make the effort to maintain a semblance of unbiased journalism.”

The hypocrisy of her lecture is mind-blowing. It beggars belief. Let’s break it up a little bit more, shall we: “When Western media do as they please, arbitration rules.” Absolutely this is the case; the media may accuse everyone and anyone, and once the accusation is out there it sticks in the minds of the readers forever. Like a witch-hunt. Hence the expression: Tried at the court of public opinion.

Next sentence: “Where even the manner in which China was reported suggests that [journalists] don’t even make the effort to maintain a semblance of unbiased journalism.” Also true, as the Western journalists are the gatekeepers of information. They are the prosecutors, the judges, the jury, and the witnesses. China is evil by definition, so why should journalists hold back with their contempt? China must ‘westernize’ or else…

I understand that as a journalist, Ms. Köckritz fanatically believes that the media is holy – above and beyond the rest of us. What everyone else sees is that the media can prosecute without a mandate, put up trial without the courts, judge without a jury, make the guilty innocent and the innocent guilty, and is totally immune to criticism because ‘backlash’ against journalism is repackaged as an attack on the “freedom of the press.”

Now, that’s true abuse of power. Only a fool believes a single thing our exceedingly manipulative, self-serving, and authoritarian press says.

Dr. Thorsten J. Pattberg (裴德思 Pei Desi) is a German philosopher and cultural critic.