BERLIN – The German weekly Die Zeit is famous for its preposterous China journalism. The correspondents are mostly Chinese illiterates. They regurgitate what the next press agency gives –Reuter, AP, dpa–; or they translate shocking news they “discovered” in the Anglophone Internet the night before. This week, however, Die Zeit Online, its electronic twin, raised the boom bar for journalistic failure: A headline claims: ‘China: Police evacuates Tianjin after more explosions.’[i] Was Tianjin really evacuated? Of course NOT! The headline is a blatant click-bait fraud.
Die Zeit was founded in Hamburg in 1946 under the auspices of the British, first modeled after the London ‘Times’, then accepting the American yoke: It regards itself as liberal (thus censoring), progressive (thus thought-policing), and as the nation’s moral pedagogue (it belittles the citizens). Today, the propaganda rag reaches hundreds of thousands of high-brow impression readers. It also feeds hundreds of lesser-tier magazines and journals with leftist ideas and gossip. We could say: Whatever Die Zeit prints goes. Now, if the dystopian headline “Police evacuates Tianjin” was true, about 8 to 12 million people would have to abandon the city. Because that’s the believed population size of Tianjin. For the sake of this argument let us say the population was 9 million –that’s still twice the population of the German capital, Berlin!
Imagine what it would take to evacuate a colossus like Berlin. Stop it. Never happened. Not in a thousand years: Neither the Great Fire, nor the Thirty Years War, nor Napoleon Bonaparte himself could relocate the diehard Berlin proles. Even during the Great War when the bombs fell like hailstones through the roofs of 1.5 million homes –the mob and hoi polloi stayed put. So, returning to 2015 and China, the journalist had to ask themselves: what would make 9 million Chinese run?
Which is linked to the question of what really happened in Tianjin: An explosion took place in Tianjin, in its remote ‘Binhai’ bay area, which is about 30 to 40 km away from the city’s center. What were the press geniuses thinking when declaring the exodus of Tianjin?
The daily reports from our ‘China experts’ resemble more and more a game of ‘Chinese whispers’, or “Stille Post” in German, where an initial rumor is passed from one person to the next with just two conditions: to paraphrase it, and to raise the stake: So “Binhai blast” quickly turns into “Tianjin explosion,” from which it isn’t far to “China’s on fire!” You know what I’m talking about: Generalizations, Accusations, Sensations! It’s never just “China says…” but: China warns, China threatens, China blames! It’s never just “Some person did…” but: State media slammed…, Beijing detained…, The Government oppresses!
This is all the more impressive as Die Zeit boasts Helmut Schmidt, the former German chancellor, among its “Publishers.” Schmidt, who was also the former Minister of Defense, used Die Zeit –“How can we go without him?”[ii]– to establish himself as the German Henry Kissinger on China. Can you imagine a former President of the United States and Minister of Defense as the Publisher of The New York Times? For the Germans, however, that’s not media collusion, nor is condemnable, no: In Germany, media and state are conjoined.
Let’s compare German Die Zeit‘s ‘Tianjin evacuated’ with the versions of the British BBC and American CNN. The BBC is known for its contempt for China, and so is CNN; but even those Imperialists put the radius of the Binhai evacuation area at exactly 3 kilometers, which, since it is a non-residential area, has the numbers of residence affected at 6000. So, about 1 in every 1500 citizens was affected (or 6000 in 9 million). So, we hate to say this, Die Zeit, but: No, Tianjin was NOT evacuated! You inflated the number of evacuees by 149.000 percent!
We see such horrible distortions in Die Zeit all the time; and what lasting damage those morons achieve: Japan watchers remember the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident in north-eastern Japan, where our hysterical German media, captivated by the thought of evacuation, from ten thousand kilometers away in Hamburg orchestrated a doomsday scenario of radioactive contamination for greater Tokyo area and its 35 million inhabitants. Die Zeit ran a headline: “German meteorologists warn of danger to Tokyo.”[iii] In reality, Fukushima and Tokyo are 235 km apart.
The predictable result was the mini exodus of the angsty Germans in Tokyo. The waves of panic-stricken German journalists and expats “fleeing” the non-sinking ship of Japan before the eyes of the courageous Japanese, their elders, their women and children, let alone other foreign nationals, was shameful to witness, and a diplomatic disaster at that.
Granted, if Die Zeit reported truth and balance on China, nobody would read it. It’s the fucking Internet age, so entertain us! If, however, they manufacture a China threat the size of a Communist Moon, then shoot it down with spectacular journalistic rancor; they naturally get us hooked. Orwell could not foretell the Internet and thus had to be wrong: Not ‘survival’ is the ultimate litmus test in writing, but… ‘traffic’! Traffic it is! Lots and loads of TRAFFIC!
Let us have a look at another much-shared propaganda piece, this time not about the exodus of some city, or people, but the exodus of free markets: ‘How the Chinese Leadership seals off its country’. In this delusional piece, Die Zeit accuses Beijing of building its own IT-champions instead of having… ta ta ta tah:… American IT-companies taking over China![iv] See, for any proud nation it’s a good idea to foster its own champions in business and commerce and information technology, is it not? Not! See, China cannot do right: “The development of an IT industry and the overall control of the Internet will also serve to maintain power of the Communist Party.” Listen, if you happen to visit Germany this winter and surf the so-called Internet, you will see that it is completely owned and dominated by American IT giants. And, yes, believe it or not: the monopoly on the Internet does serve to maintain US hegemony. The authors, if they had any self-respect, should have said “China has its own IT industry, and we Germans have none –it’s not fair!”
But of course, those persons are paid to echo and channel US foreign policy into the German-speaking world, it’s not personal: It is possible that they didn’t even bother to reflect on it –that this particular IT propaganda piece only made sense from the American perspective (We want China’s IT market, so China: stop protecting your own IT market!); and absolutely made no sense from the German position –a nation whose IT sector was completely savaged and eaten up by US corporations –Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo!, Youtube, Apple, Uber, and many more.
Now, Die Zeit has already sacked its Tianjin hoax, barely 24 hours after its appearance on its website, and replaced it with an environmental version, including a brand-new headline: “Toxic fumes threaten people in Tianjin.”[v] Yet, to be perfectly honest, they didn’t have to erase all traces: The German China correspondents usually get away with anything they write. And if anybody raises troublesome objections, the hammer of the Censor falls: “Deleted. Please refrain from conspiracy theories.—The Editor.”
Is there any hope for Die Zeit? Not on this page. Go and confront any leading German ‘Foreign correspondent’ in Beijing or Tokyo about their language abilities and cultural competence and you’ll get the eye-daggers and the sneer: It’s an age-old truism proven and validated over and over again, that the most incompetent persons are offered the most powerful positions. At Die Zeit, China is Chefsache –a matter for the bosses. The bosses, of course, get to “explain” China to the readers first and assume the role as the Nation’s foremost “China Experts.” Helmut Schmidt, while he was the Publisher, shamelessly marketed his China books through Die Zeit: “How should the West react to China? A book by Helmut Schmidt.”[vi] Theo Sommer, former Publisher of Die Zeit, still writes columns: “The Chinese are coming. […] Millions come, with billions.”[vii] Josef Joffe, the current Publisher of Die Zeit, explains: “China speaks softly and carves up a big stick.”[viii]
Why all this China-fetish, pseudo-expertise, and self-important chiefs? Because the Media, just like Defense, is systemrelevant in Germany –indispensable for national security. A person who spent ten years away in Communist China without constant German supervision is a security risk. A person who spent ten years in Germany among the wrong class of people, the underclass; “common people” the upper class is destined to oversee and sacrifice as pawns to its dominion, cannot be trusted into high office either.
It’s like asking the German Minister of Defense if he’s ever served in the army or has studied the country he’s about to sending soldiers to. She didn’t. It’s currently Ursula von der Leyen (since 2013). And before that it was Karl Ernst Thomas de Maizière (2011 – 2013), and Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (2009-2011) – all career politicians. They have no inklings to know about warfare and the battle field, or plans to participate in it, but they truly know that spreading negativity about their enemies will possess them with all the power. They are essentially “trolling” the people of Germany. That’s what our media are doing as well:
Precisely because of being incompetent, mismatched, and dysfunctional at their “job,” foreign correspondents are eternally grateful for the opportunity and forever loyal to their paymasters. As reward for their unquestioning loyalty they are getting access to resources and perks completely separated from the world of experts, the common people, das Volk. Yes, some correspondents can’t handle the immorality of it and quit, or blow the whistle and die –O crap, Mistake! – a treacherous loser. Most disciples, however, have the dark stuff to become the press tyrants they were meant to be. They can’t wait to be first in Beijing and cause some serious damage.
Foreign correspondents exist; they don’t know. Their function is precisely what generates the hate and sells the foreign danger, the alarm, the panicking, the anxiety, the provocation, the disruption. Question: If what we print about the foreign nation is obviously untrue, why does everybody get so angry about it? Answer: Because we, we couldn’t help it; but YOU, you stir-shitters, yarnspinners and damned rabulists, You set us up… Oh yes you did! Yes…you… %#!$@
[i] Die Zeit, China: Polizei evakuiert Tianjian nach weiteren Explosionen, Aug 15, 2015, Hamburg (Article now removed)
[ii] Die Zeit, Helmut Schmidt, How can we go without him?, Nov 10, 2015, Hamburg
[iii] Die Zeit, Deutsche Meteorologen warnen vor Gefahr für Tokyo, April 2, 2011, Hamburg
[iv] Die Zeit, Wie die chinesische Führung das Land abschottet, March 2, 2015, Hamburg
[v] Die Zeit, Giftige Dämpfe bedrohen Menschen in Tianjin, Aug 16, 2015, Hamburg
[vi] Die Zeit, China: Besuch bei einer Weltmacht, April 25, 2013, Hamburg
[vii] Die Zeit, Eine große Einkaufstour, Eine Kolumne von Theo Sommer, March 29, 2016, Hamburg
[viii] Die Zeit, Das Spiel der Mächte, Dec 9, 2010, Hamburg