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Unbalanced media power skews espionage war

By Sun Xiaobo (Global Times)    08:33, February 05, 2015

A Chinese doctoral candidate who had been working on a wind power project at the University of Agder over the past two years was recently ordered by Norwegian police to leave the country before January 23.

The Chinese scholar's tutor, a European professor at the university was also asked to leave Norway after Norwegian authorities expressed fear that the pair's expertise would be used for "military purposes in other countries" such as missiles, without giving any concrete evidence. The allegations were denied by both the professor and the Chinese student.

The Chinese Embassy in Norway raised the issue with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday. Even the university's management was taken aback by the expulsion decision and saw no grounds after checking the research by the student and the professor. A lawyer was employed to defend the two involved.

Western countries always demand that China enhances its transparency in cases involving espionage and security. But this decision by the Norwegian authorities shows a lack of evidence and details when handling this. The Western media has to be partly blamed for the stereotyped and negative impression displayed by foreign netizens over the Chinese involved due to selective and distorted reportage of China.

Negative news in China, such as reports about human rights and espionage, are given disproportionate attention and are usually hyped up by the West. As most people outside China can only be acquainted with this country from media reports, it is no surprise that they form the unfavorable impression that China is a hypocrite and a bully.

On the other hand, domestic media has its own lessons to learn. In August last year, a Canadian couple was arrested for suspected theft of military intelligence in Dandong, Liaoning Province, a city bordering North Korea. While Chinese media outlets just carried the official message, a series of reports published in Western media depicting the couple's good nature directed the onus back at China.

Chinese media is always restrained when reporting on cases of foreign spies caught in China and hence allows their foreign counterparts to seize the narrative. As a result, these foreign spies often appear to be innocent while Chinese people suspected of espionage are presumed to be guilty. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Yuan Can,Liang Jun)

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