USAGM WATCH COMMENTARY
We have been contacted in the last several days by a young Chinese immigrant who finished his education and now works in the United States and wanted to let us know that the taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA) in the $800 million (annual) U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) is repeating propaganda being put out by the communist regime in China.
Our contact in the Chinese American community is not the only one who has noticed VOA’s tendency to parrot Beijing’s propaganda. Speaking at a White House press briefing on April 15, 2020, President Trump harshly criticized the current management of U.S. government-funded media outreach abroad, stating that what the Voice of America is saying about America is “disgusting” and “a disgrace.” A few days earlier, the White House posted a statement that “Journalists should report the facts, but VOA has instead amplified Beijing’s propaganda.”
Voice of America director Amanda Bennett, who was appointed to her position during the Obama administration, defended herself in a statement asserting that “We are thoroughly covering China’s dis-information and misinformation in English and Mandarin and at the same time reporting factually – as we always do in all 47 of our broadcast languages – on other events in China.”
Several months before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB) Executive Director Ann Noonan criticized anti-U.S. and pro-China regime Twitter messages from the U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America. Representing her non-partisan, independent NGO, Ann Noonan spoke about it on September 11, 2019 at the open meeting of the USAGM Board which oversees the work of VOA executives and journalists, as the agency still lacks a permanent CEO appointed by the U.S. President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
In recent years, USAGM Watch has seen and reported on multiple examples of the Voice of America English and Chinese services using and repeating propaganda and disinformation coming from the communist regime in China, often without any challenge or balance. Under Director Bennett’s watch, VOA Mandarin Service posted in recent weeks multiple videos of Chinese communist officials making false claims on COVID-19 and attacking the United States government. We consider Director Bennett’s defense of her management and leadership at the Voice of America to be highly misleading and filled with half-truths.
We have received recently three messages from a young immigrant from China currently living in the United States who agrees that a significant portion of the Voice of America programming in Mandarin mimics Chinese government propaganda and presents a false image of the United States to the Chinese audience. We have slightly edited and combined these messages to further obscure the Chinese immigrant’s identity because the writer, a former student who works in the United States and has a family in China, does not want to be identified by name or be involved in any political activity. We made no changes to the substance of the information and opinions in these messages.
The writer is not the only Chinese-American critic of the Voice of America and its current director. In the last three years there have been thousands of Twitter comments from native Chinese and Chinese Americans who have criticized the Voice of America and VOA Director Amanda Bennett for what they see as amplifying the Chinese communist regime’s propaganda and disinformation campaign against the United States, against the protesters in Hong Kong and against its own population in China.
Are you interested in some stories I found on VOA’s Chinese website that are “disgraceful”?
BY A CHINESE IMMIGRANT WHO WANTS TO REMAIN ANONYMOUS
Are you interested in a news report I found on the Voice of America VOA Chinese website that is “disgraceful”? I just saw one saying Americans are frequently attacking Asians because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The VOA Chinese report is titled: “口水与暴力：疫情期间美国亚裔受歧视与骚扰事件频发,” which translates “Spitting and violence: Asian Americans suffer frequent discrimination and harassment during the epidemic.”
Personally, I have never been treated like that in America. And I do not know any Asian who was treated like that by Americans. It does not reflect the reality in America at all. I have seen media in China doing a lot of reporting like the one posted by the Voice of America. My mother in China called to say she was worried about me after seeing these Chinese media reports. I told her that is not what most people have experienced in the U.S. I am very safe here. I did not think that the Voice of America would do the same type of reporting as state communist media in China.
I am not saying that an incident like the one in the VOA report never happened. I am sure it did. It is the way the Voice of America chose to write its report that troubles me.
I live in Virginia. I was a student from China but now I am working. I do not know why VOA does this. I just feel they are not doing a good job. I have seen also recently at least ten VOA Chinese video reports showing nothing but statements from Chinese government officials.
Please forgive me for not being able to provide more information about myself. I do not want to get involved in politics.
I will try to translate the VOA report for you.
VOICE OF AMERICA CHINESE NEWS REPORT
This is an unofficial translation provided by a Chinese immigrant living in the United States. We cannot verify or confirm its complete accuracy but it is close to a Google translation of the VOA Chinese report posted on the VOA website on April 24, 2020 as seen on the web on April 27, 2020 at 9:00 PM EDT.
Spitting and violence: Asian Americans suffer frequent discrimination and harassment during the epidemic
On a weekend in early April, young designer Stephanie walked on the way home in Koreatown, Midtown Manhattan, New York. A middle-aged black woman was talking to herself loudly. “She was a little crazy, she came towards me and said to herself, she lost her job.” Stephanie said. Stephanie said to VOA on the phone: “She seems to be complaining. When she saw me, she looked like she was saying,” You will follow me! “Then she tried to spit at me.” Stephanie was not sprayed by the strange woman’s saliva. “At that moment, I was a little shocked because such a thing never happened to me. And I have lived in New York for a few years.”
Stephanie, who immigrated from Hong Kong to the United States at an early age, did not associate this matter with ethnic factors. But on the same weekend, the speech provocation from another stranger made her feel very uncomfortable. “We are walking on the road, a woman suddenly said to us, do you know that the Chinese are the least vulnerable to this virus?” “She meant that maybe we (Chinese) made it (new coronavirus). She started to provoke and tried to anger us.” Stephanie explained. “I suddenly realized that these two things happened on the same weekend. I usually don’t encounter strangers making such remarks to me.”
After the start of the New Crown Epidemic, reports of Chinese people living in the United States who suffered discriminatory verbal attacks and even hate attacks because they put on their masks first appeared in the media. Multiple video clips circulating on the Internet show that Asian passengers were abused, spit, and even beaten on the New York subway. Vietnamese American Nan T. is currently doing postdoctoral research in a medical economics project at a university on the east coast of the United States. He told VOA that he felt unsafe on the subway in New York. “I feel that people are indeed evading you and projecting you a skeptical look.”
The California-based Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, Chinese for Affirmative Action, and San Francisco State University began soliciting discrimination against Asians related to the new crown epidemic in March this year. Reports of harassment and attacks. The statistical reports issued by these three organizations say that the project has received 1,135 reports from the United States in the two weeks from March 19 to April 1. “Verbal harassment”, “encounter avoidance”, “body attack”, “coughed or spit in the face” are the main types of discrimination in the report. The report says that women are attacked twice as often as men.
The largest number of reports came from California, accounting for 42.9% of the total, followed by New York State, which accounted for 18.5%. Nan told VOA that his insecurity on the subway may have come from an encounter in early March. At that time, the new crown epidemic was just beginning in the United States, and the number of diagnoses in the United States was less than 100. “I was walking in East Village, New York at about 8pm. A man pointed at me and said” coronavirus “! A very threatening look,” he said. “There were a lot of pedestrians on the road at the time, and I was the only Asian in that section of the street.” He said: “There are a lot of Chinese and Asian Americans in New York. I never had the kind of nervousness that I was afraid of being recognized before. In this city with a large number of ethnic minorities, it can be integrated naturally. “
Nan frankly said: “To be honest, what I thought at the beginning was-although I didn’t say it-but my inner rebuttal was: ‘I am not Chinese, you know, I am Asian but I am not Chinese, You discriminated against the wrong person. ‘” He said: “But after that, I think, as a racial group, it doesn’t matter whether I am Chinese or not. Once you look in the eyes of others they can be discriminated against, this is enough for them, Because you are what they think you should be. “There are a lot of fears about China now. Everyone thinks we are engaged in a cultural and economic war with China, which is the root cause. Our current situation is that we have been emphasizing that this virus originated in China. Some people in the government politicizing this issue will add fuel to the fire. ” 25 Democratic senators from the Democratic Party wrote to US President Trump on April 21 stating that the number of harassment and violence suffered by Americans of Asian and Pacific descent during the new crown epidemic continued to increase, promising to cooperate with the president to combat racism and eliminate prejudice.
New York designer Stephanie said he hopes the government will increase the efficiency of handling people ’s reports of racial discrimination. She said that after the spitting incident, she called the 311 government hotline, but 311 asked her to call 911, and 911 asked her to go directly to the police. “I don’t want to go to the police because the woman is gone. There is no place to reflect this kind of thing. I want to remind the people around me that someone here may cause harm to others.” Stephanie said. An Sam customer supermarket in Midland, Texas, USA, was cut with a knife on March 14. A 19-year-old man cut three people in a family with a knife. The FBI report said the suspect said he believed the family was Chinese who spread the new crown virus. The man may face hate crime charges.
VOA CHINESE SERVICE REPORT
As seen on the VOA Chinese website on April 27, 2020 9PM EDT.
设在加利福尼亚州的亚太政策与规划委员会（Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council）、华人权益促进会（Chinese for Affirmative Action）以及旧金山州立大学今年3月开始征集与新冠疫情相关的针对亚裔人士的歧视、骚扰和攻击报告。这三家机构发布的统计报告说，3月19至4月1日两星期来，该项目共收到来自美国各地1135个举报。