While a comparatively early report by Guanchazhe (Shanghai) came across as sort of neutral, a report by Huanqiu Shibao (the Chinese-language sister of the “Global Times”) on Monday used the Su Yutong vs Deutsche Welle story for a bit of domestic nation-building. Using purported netizen comments, Huanqiu criticizes Su for being “naive”:
“You are reporting negative news about China all day long and think Germans will like you for that? Naive! You are planning to sue Deutsche Welle for violating local labor laws? What a joke. You don’t understand Germany and German law. When you leak a company’s internal information, the company has every reason to discharge you”, some netizens said.
The paper leaves much of the criticism to “netizens”, but adds some message of its own, too. According to a BBC survey [probably Globescan], China’s image in Germany had been deteriorating for a decade, and 76 percent of Germans currently held a negative view of China, writes Huanqiu. That journalists like Su Yutong, from important positions, were blackening China’s name had something to do with the country’s negative image. When Chinese people badmouthed other Chinese people, ordinary people abroad tended to believe them.
We, too, hate some dark phenomena in our country, but we also hope and believe our motherland will improve. Reasonable overseas Chinese people will be happy and proud about China’s economic construction and development during the past thirty years. China has its shortcomings and you can criticize them, but not with a maximum zoom, and opposition against everything.
The article also describes the development of Sino-German trade and adds that during the sanctions on and from Russia, Germany’s economy had shrunk by 0.2 percent during the second quarter this year. And using comments on overseas-Chinese social media, Huanqiu suggests that “constant negative headlines at Deutsche Welle about China wouldn’t help bilateral cooperation”.
The Asia-Pacific Committee of German Business (APA) would probably agree. When German chancellor Angela Merkel visited China during summer, the APA had recommendations for the two heads of government, Merkel and Li Keqiang, concerning a better climate for Chinese investment in Germany. Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) reported:
It was “the common task of governments and companies on both sides to promote a good reputation of Chinese companies in Germany”, the recommendations, on hand at dpa newsagency in Beijing on Tuesday [July 8], say. This was about a “fair and accurate” presentation. Background [of these recommendations?] is Chinese criticism of German media which “irresponsibly and inaccurately report about Chinese human rights and political issues”, a position paper still in progress says.
APA chairman Hubert Lienhard, talking to journalists, resolutely denied the existence of this paragraph in the raft. However, only a week ago, a draft of the paper containing this criticism circulated in the German embassy in Beijing. Accusations like these were, however, not adopted in the recommendations to the two heads of government, recommendations the APA commission does not want to publish. [...]
The APA doesn’t need to be “behind” the most recent events at Deutsche Welle, and if the links are as crude as suggested both by Huanqiu Shibao and some of Su Yutong’s supporters remains an open question. But there seems to be a trend towards cozying up to Beijing – and the pendulum that hit Zhang Danhong in 2008, and four more of her colleagues at the DW Chinese department in 2010 on its way to more “China-unfriendly” coverage, now seems to have hit Su Yutong, on its way back to more “China-friendly” coverage.